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The Science of HappinessMJ O'Leary
There are significant benefits of meditation for college students and their families. By meditating together, you can not only encourage your student in a practice that may help them improve their academic performance, but you will be supporting good mental health for your entire family.
Parenting a college student can be a challenge. It’s hard to know how to help them with their exams and coursework without also piling on the pressure.
Stress is a way of life for college students. According to the most recent National College Health Assessment (NCHA), only a tiny percentage (less than 2%!) of college students reports feeling no stress. And now that many if not most us have our college students living at home again because of the pandemic, we are able to see and feel all too well how that stress can filter through the family, affecting everyone in the home.
It's imperative for college students to successfully manage stress, and there are many ways to do this. Exercise, proper nutrition and taking time to relax every day are all good strategies. One of the most potent ways for students to relieve stress is with meditation.
As a meditation teacher, I’ve helped many students and families cope with stress, and have witnessed firsthand how big a difference meditation can make.
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of meditation is that it helps with stress relief. Deep breathing meditation techniques like Anapanasati (mindfulness of breath) have been scientifically proven to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which prompts relaxation.
In addition to helping with stress, meditation is known to relieve other common mental health conditions among college students, such as exam anxiety.
By creating a family meditation session, all members of the family can relax, and the result is a stress-free household.
Both college students and their families are concerned about results. Thankfully, meditation has been scientifically proven to improve academic performance and help raise grades.
Meditation improves academic performance by boosting focus and concentration, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving short-term memory. The result is better grades with less stress. Unfortunately, many college students believe they don't have time to meditate, which is one reason why it's helpful if parents advocate the practice, and perhaps even create a family meditation time when all family members meditate together.
Poor communication is one of the primary causes of conflict within families. So much tension, resentment and misunderstanding could be avoided or resolved if family members took the opportunity to speak openly about how they were feeling and to listen to one another with open ears. As most of us know from personal experience, though, this isn't as easy as it sounds. We all have our own individual stressors and pressures.
Thankfully, one of the positive effects of meditation is that it improves communication skills. It has even been demonstrated that meditation helps prepare us to hear things we don’t want to hear, so if one family member happens to mention something inconvenient or something we disagree with, we are more able to hear them and acknowledge them.
By improving communication, meditation helps family members to be attentive and open to one another, ultimately creating a more supportive family unit.
One of my personal favorite benefits of meditation is that it heightens compassion. There are specific meditations that families can use to improve compassion, namely Loving Kindness (“Metta”) and Karuna (“Compassion”). By practicing these two methods, family members can become more understanding and more compassionate of one another, leading to a more supportive household.
Research has shown that when we meditate as a group we create a sense of peace that spreads among all members of that group. In other words, if you meditate as a family you will all help one another to feel peaceful. This will reduce arguments and create a more tranquil household (which is also conducive to successful study). When parents are peaceful themselves, their kids are more likely to be peaceful, too.
There are many benefits of meditation for both college students and their families. By meditating as a group, families can help improve grade performance, reduce anxiety, and ultimately create a happier home. All it takes is 20 minutes a day of family meditation time. Why not turn off the TV for just 20 minutes and sit as a family, breathing peacefully? Everyone will benefit.