The Vermont Cynic

Meditation will help ease stress and anxiety


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Chances are you dear Cynic readers are just about Trumped out, and would rather not read another thing about Trump and his latest shenanigans.

Instead, I want to talk to about the benefits of meditation. I think we could all use some help staying sane in these trying times, especially with exams coming up.

I recently started meditating everyday for 10 minutes using an app called Headspace. I would highly encourage you to get the app and try meditating once or twice. I guarantee it will improve your mood, your outlook on life and reduce stress.

I think in the world we live in we’re always poised to spring onto the next thing, whether it’s a funny video or a presidential scandal. It’s easy to lose yourself in the tidal wave of information absorbed each day.

Besides that, our society drinks a whole lot. It’s pretty easy to develop a drinking problem, do things when you’re drunk that you very much regret or become a different person altogether after a few shots.

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I think meditation can help with some of these things. Maybe you have a bit of the ol’ social anxiety and tend to drink a bit too much to compensate. I think meditation can definitely ease that anxiety.

Try to remember what you had for dinner yesterday. How about the day before? Or the day before that? I think, in college especially, the days tend to blend together.

You remember the beginning of the semester and the end. Meditation can help keep you grounded in the present and be more mindful of what’s going on in your life.

As I’ve written about before, it’s pretty easy for me to spend most of the day cycling through Netflix and Facebook. I feel pretty darn shitty after a day of jumping around like this and getting nothing done. Various and studies have shown concentrating on one thing makes you feel good.

Try Headspace for 10 minutes. You may find you repeatedly reach out for your phone to check a text message or perhaps open up tinder. As Lily Spechler wrote about in her article on attention spans, we are collectively losing the ability to concentrate on any one thing.

I think part of Trump’s success was his ability to constantly entertain and distract us, even if we hated his guts. Maybe especially if we hated his guts.

After a session with Headspace you are asked to examine how you feel. Even after just 10 minutes of sitting still and concentrating on your breathing, you will be 10 times better. Not to oversell it.

Meditation is not about clearing your mind so much as finding calm: becoming at ease with the coming and going of your thoughts.

As the creator of Headspace said, the mind is like the sky. In its calm state it’s nice and blue. That’s its natural state. But storms can brew and drive in ugly black clouds.

This is perfectly normal. The trick is to observe these clouds made of negative thoughts and let them pass by.

You are what you think. For example, last Friday I was supremely hungover. I hadn’t slept a wink, and I was untethered from reality. I was pretty much observing myself in the third person. I should have gotten awards and medals for making it to class.

At first the mantra going through my head was, “ I’m dying. I’m dead. Holy fuck. I’m not ok.” Of course, this thinking didn’t make me feel any better. But then I tried to think positive, telling myself “You’re ok. You’re ok. You’re not dying,” and I actually began to feel better.

Meditation is about learning to not “inhabit” your thoughts and let them take over, as Dan Harris, author of Ten Percent Happier put it in a 2015 interview with NPR. Harris, now an anchor for ABC news, once had a panic attack on air. In Ten Percent Happier he talks about how he approached meditation with a lot of skepticism, but it ended up helping him a lot.

So, when you are really stressed out next week, and then your roommate leaves a pile of dishes, and you’re about to go on a full-blown rampage, take a deep breath and a take a step back and try to just watch the anger. Detach yourself from it and just watch it pass by.

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Meditation will help ease stress and anxiety