Benefits Of Meditation For Students

The benefits of meditation for students can bring both immediate improvements in terms of quality of life, they can also impact on long term living in a variety of ways. Meditating brings wonderful relief from stress, something which is good for everyone of course though during periods of study that can bring a far deeper effect. One of the things this yields is instantly enhanced ability to focus, concentrate, process information and then recall it as well. This is just the start, the benefit from developing a good meditative practice goes much further with the development of a practice impacting on both the individuals themselves and those around them.

The Top Level Benefits For The Student

Improved Concentration
Improved Memory and Recall
Improved Creativity
Improved Confidence
Improved Sense of Self-Worth
Improved Ability to be Calm
Improved Grades and Ability To Succeed

The Top Level Benefits For The School or University

Increased Levels Of Harmony
Improved Inter-Student and Staff Relationships
Improved Behavioural Profile
Improved Grades and Test Scores

The Research Which Backs This Up

As stated on the main benefits of meditation page there are two organisations which have been doing a lot of work in this field, CWAE with a TM (Transcendental Meditation) based approach and the Inner Explorer Program working with a Mindfulness approach. Whilst both have been steadily building up a consistent set of results with the students they have worked with CWAE has been building up a greater depth of sound proof for what they are doing through the various studies and reports.

That said there are various other organisations and groups around the world that have recognised the various positive effects that meditative practice has on both students and educational institutions. Much as the general public has developed and ever growing acceptance of what the practice can achieve, various schools and universities have done so too with many seeing positive movement in league tables and graduates gaining preferred employment as a result.

What It Does For Concentration

Issues of attention and focal ability became noteworthy in the 1990's and early 2000's, with students having difficulty maintaining focus on classroom activities and homework, the result being reductions in comprehension and ability to produce quality material during testing. The issue realistically being a composite of a few things, the individuals concerned having reduced attention span and low interest in what is going on, and the teachers ability to properly engage and hold the individuals attention.

These things come from various root causes. The increased environmental pace being a prime factor, with ever more going on, and a reduced ability to just be still and calm creating the resulting issues with diminished focal ability.

When time is taken to actually get used to calmness and stillness during meditation the ability of a student to concentrate on tasks and study material goes up. When you you are meditating your mind becomes steadily more comfortable with less stimulation, it feels more at ease with less going on. As such you feel less "distracted" during study times due to your increased level of comfort in calmly going through what you are doing.

The times when you feel distracted are often due to the feeling that you need more going on, your mind searching out for other things to put its attention on as the study lacks interest or is seemingly too slow paced. As you steadily get into a regular meditative practice you become more comfortable with a slower pace, and can welcome with ease calm time to study and mentally digest the information and knowledge you need to learn and acquire.

Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation Course on Learning and Cognitive Performance among University Students in Taiwan.

“a quasi-experimental pre/post test design was used to assess the effects of a one-semester mindfulness meditation course in 152 first-year Taiwanese university students and compared with 130 controls... This study showed that a one-semester mindfulness meditation course was able to improve learning effectiveness and both attention and memory aspects of cognitive performance among Taiwanese university students.”
Ching HH, Koo M, Tsai TH, Chen CY.
Source Report At PubMed

The Resulting Effects Of Improved Concentration

As you are likely very aware the effect of enhancing concentration is that learning and acquisition of knowledge, along with task completion activities, occurs at a higher rate. Things become easier to do and achieve the closer you get to devoting 100% of your attention. So eliminating distractions can be good, though what can server you far better is taking your mind to a point where it ceases to become distracted as you feel able to naturally devote your entire focus to a single thing.

Achieving 100% focus on a single thing can take a while to do of course, though through taking time to meditate you become more and more able to devote a fuller amount of your attention to a single thing. On top of that you can feel at greater ease with things happening around you, that is you feel less inclined to seek out the causes of distractions to discover what they are and why they are happening. You become able to rise above them and flow free from them.

Of course your mind will still alert you to anything which is inherently dangerous to your safety, that is the prime directive of your unconscious mind (from an NLP perspective), though other things that would have previously just irritated you become opportunities for you to release negativity and enhance your calm further.

With this enhanced ability to focus and absorb knowledge and information you can learn more quickly and also more thoroughly. As a result of this when it comes to tests, discussions, coursework, homework or whatever method is being used to demonstrate your level of understanding of a subject you will have greater ability to answer questions more fully.

How Improved Memory Recall Builds Compounds This

The ability to concentrate on a given task is important, being able to then draw from what you have learnt a week, a month, 6 months, a year or more later is very important too. Through school and university (if you choose to go) or whatever learning you are doing (self study, distance or whatever) the knowledge you acquire compounds over time. The linguistic and mathematical knowledge you have now was built from foundations that where set in your childhood. When recalling information is challenging then the acquisition of fresh information also becomes challenging.

In order to fully understand what is being learnt in the here and now you reference it against previously acquired knowledge, from there your mind can process, reassess and store the fresh information and learning in the correct manner for it.

So the importance of memory is two fold here. You need good recall so you can represent learnings during tests, grading and work (depending on your work), plus you need a memory that functions with ease so that you can process fresh learning efficiently and contrast it with previous learning for better comprehension and development of ability.

All information you ever experience is stored in your memory. All. Forgetfulness is a function of inability to recall, something which is a function of stress and negative perceptions about the self. As you become calmer and more at ease with yourself you naturally find that personal perceptions become more positive, at the same time stress diminishes and with it the adverse effects it has.

Meditative practices are becoming increasingly widespread and achieving greater acceptance as being good for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as alzheimer's. The exercising of neurological pathways and clearance of negativity and mental clutter aiding with the maintenance and strengthening of mental function. Meditation has also been involved in trials yielding positive tests for the prevention of such conditions, with doctors working from a set of at risk patients exhibiting what are believed to be key markers in the onset of such conditions.

Effect of meditation on cognitive functions in context of ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.

“Seven studies were detected through the databases search, which explores the effect of meditation on attention, memory, executive functions, and other miscellaneous measures of cognition in a sample of older people and people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Overall, reviewed studies suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, particularly in the area of attention, as well as memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility. These findings are discussed in the context of MRI studies suggesting structural correlates of the effects. Meditation can be a potentially suitable non-pharmacological intervention aimed at the prevention of cognitive decline in the elderly.”
Marciniak R, Sheardova K, Cermáková P, Hudeček D, Sumec R, Hort J
Source Article On Frontiers Of Behavioural Neuroscience

This study obviously is working with an extreme in so much as it is centred around the context of ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. That said, in that the amassed findings show positive effects in various key functional areas of the mind.

With this being the case it can thus be drawn that the development of a regular practice, meditating once or twice a day ideally, can aid the positive functioning of the mind in a efficient and beneficial manner. With neuroplasticity, cognitive and executive function all having been demonstrated to be enhanced through meditative practice it is understandable how meditating can aid anyone to strengthen their mind and its various abilities as an aid to improved recall and ability in learning, workplace and other environments.

Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem

“Using magnetic resonance imaging, we observed higher gray matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators compared with age-matched nonmeditators. Our findings show that long-term practitioners of meditation have structural differences in brainstem regions concerned with cardiorespiratory control. This could account for some of the cardiorespiratory parasympathetic effects and traits, as well as the cognitive, emotional, and immunoreactive impact reported in several studies of different meditation practices.”
Vestergaard-Poulsen, Peter; van Beek, Martijn; Skewes, Joshua; Bjarkam, Carsten R.; Stubberup, Michael; Bertelsen, Jes; Roepstorff, Andreas
Source Article At NeuroReport

One of the many things noted as a difference when medical practitioners are looking at neurological structure of those who meditate in comparison to non-meditators is with the density of grey matter. The more a person engages with meditative practice, maintaining the practice over a sustained period of time, talking months and years rather than hours, the greater the density of their grey matter. Cortical thickness has also been noted to receive positive benefit in much the same way.

Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.

“Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing were thicker in meditation participants than matched controls, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula. Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning. Finally, the thickness of two regions correlated with meditation experience. These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.”
Lazar SW, Kerr CE, Wasserman RH, Gray JR, Greve DN, Treadway MT, McGarvey M, Quinn BT, Dusek JA, Benson H, Rauch SL, Moore CI, Fischl B.
Source Report

All of this together brings a fair weight to the point that meditating enhances the health of the brain in a variety of important ways. In many ways it is like taking your brain through a workout or yoga session. With a workout or yoga you are working through your muscles and the energy system of your physical body, something you do in order to promote your physical wellbeing, strength and functionality. You exercise your physical body so that it works more effectively.

With meditation you are exercising your brain in order to have it work more effectively. As a result grey matter increases in density and cortical thickness grows too, with benefits coming in the form of improved cognitive ability, enhanced concentration and improved memory. All from taking time to become calm and take your mind through sessions which can be incredibly relaxing.

Enhancing Your Capacity To Produce Alpha Brainwaves

Part of the reason that meditation is good for enhancing your mental faculties, of which concentration and memory are the most notable here, is that it helps you to produces Alpha brainwaves.

Alpha brainwaves occur in the 8-13Hz range and bring a state of light relaxation and an expanded sense of positivity while also enabling stress relief as part of what they do. Studies have noted that when in an Alpha state students have an elevated capacity for focus and retention of information, moving through study sessions with greater ease and effectiveness than students in control groups.

A well known cognitive test of attention and conflict processing is the Stroop test, which is derived from the Stroop effect first reported by the American Psychologist John Ridley Stroop in 1935 in his Ph.D. Dissertation. The effect being that most people perceive entire words and rarely focus on the actual letters within them, thus leading to potentials for error when reading. It is something which causes issues with proof reading at times and is a strong test of a persons attention and focus on a task.

Within this the common form of testing is to have a set of colour words, i.e. blue, green, yellow, etc., written in both their own colour and other colours. As such you might find the word yellow written in red, i.e. Yellow. With the resultant effect for many being that when asked what colour the word is written in they will say the colour of the written word rather than the colour of the ink itself. That is they will say yellow when the correct answer is red.

Short Term Integrative Meditation Improves Resting Alpha Activity and Stroop Performance

“Forty-three Chinese undergraduates were randomly assigned an experiment group given 5 days meditation training using integrative body-mind training (IBMT) and a relaxation training control. After training, only the IBMT group showed decreased conflict reaction time (RT), and increased resting mean alpha power. Moreover, the higher the enhancement of resting alpha power, the stronger the improvement of conflict RT. The results indicate that short term meditation diffusely enhances alpha and improves the ability to deal with conflict and moreover these two effects are positively related.”
Yaxin Fan, Yi-Yuan Tang, Rongxiang Tang, Michael I. Posner
Article On Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

In order to remain clear headed and produce good results within the Stroop test the process of directed attention is required, something which is elevated when the brain is within the Alpha state with brainwaves in the 8 – 13 Hz range. It is well known and documented within various studies that long term meditators have greater levels of resting Alpha than non-meditators, this study in turn demonstrates that even after a short training period those that are new to the practice can achieve beneficial gains from it.

Thus as a student, even if you are only starting to meditate just before your exams or tests, you can still achieve gains from doing so on a very quantifiable level. The longer you sustain your practice the better of course, thus if you began in elementary or primary school, meditating for 10 – 20 minutes a day and continued your practice through to university then you would have built up a very valuable mental resource for yourself.

An additional element that can be of aid to students looking to amplify their ability to achieve gains from the alpha state whilst studying is through the use of Alpha focused brainwave entrainment. This is where you listen to specially created music which has the sound forms embedded within it that entrain your brain into a state where it is producing Alpha brainwaves, thus aiding you to achieve more from your studies. Its use within meditative practice can also help to accelerate your ability to achieve sustainable alpha wave production both during your meditations and at other times when it would be beneficial for you.

Accessing “Super Learning” In Theta

Whilst Alpha brainwaves produce a very positive state for learning and also living, the Theta level has been noted to produce even greater effects. Theta brainwaves occur in the 4 – 8 Hz range and bring a state of deep relaxation and place where deep meditation happens to. The mental and emotional state in this range is one of calm and openness, this is where the mind becomes highly receptive to new information and knowledge and has been dubbed the “Super Learning” state as a result.

Getting your brain into Theta can take a lot of practice via meditation, though again the use of special brainwave entrainment tracks can aid you along. Those that do get themselves into this deep state can come to enjoy the sponge like effect that their mind takes on. Theta is the range that most children are in for a high percentage of the time until they are around 6 – 7 years old, and hence the reason that they acquire knowledge and learning so quickly at that age. As people become older they have more trouble accessing it due to being in higher ranges such as Beta for more of the time, though through practice it becomes possible to access the sponge like and massively beneficial “Super Learning” state of Theta.

Using Isochronic tones and Binuaral beats for studying is a very good way to help yourself get into these states with ease.

Expanding Your Creativity

On top of the aforementioned gains of enhanced focal ability and memory meditating brings opportunity for expanded creativity and creative thinking. There are various things that can link in to this benefit, one of the key influences is the decreased level of stress that you experience. With meditative practice you both release stress and at the same time strengthen yourself in such a way that you feel and perceive stress in an ever diminishing way the more you practice.

Stress is heralded by many as aiding them to get things done quicker and find new solutions, that said the way in which it acts is usually to diminished those abilities. When in a state of relaxation and openness the mind can work more freely and flow in its own natural way. The best musicians, painters, photographers, dancers and other artists uniformly do their best work when they are at a state of ease. The moment stress comes in people have a tendency to make errors (small or large) and miss details that can make big differences.

Companies including Google, Apple and Procter & Gamble run classes for employees so that they can learn to meditate. The value each company places on each different aspect of benefit is slightly different in each case, that said one of the reasons they all have the opportunity their for their employees is so that creative thinking can be enhanced.

The once CEO and now Executive Chairman of P&G A.G. Lafley who was awarded "CEO of the Year 2006" by Chief Executive Magazine, and then in 2010 received the Edison Achievement, in recognition of his contributions to innovation, marketing, and human-centered design. Has been famously and widely quoted as saying

“You can not out-work a problem, you have to out-meditation it.”

Out-thinking problems is what many teachers and bosses tend to advocate, though the approach tends to bog a person down as the focus goes on what is known and the approaches that a person is familiar with. Out-thinking tends to push people into a state of stress which bogs them down and hampers progress. Through using the the approach of out-meditating and issue the opportunity comes to release your mind and flow freely, opening yourself up to creative possibilities for solving issues that may have otherwise failed to have been noticed. It is through opening up and allowing the dissociated “blue-sky” consider all things move that creative genius can come through.

This serves as much for companies going through product development and process design as it does for art students, writers and anyone who has a creative component of what they are doing. Creativity opens us up to new and improved ways of doing things. Creativity has been the background force for everything that has led to development and positive life change through the history of the world, and taking time to meditate on a regular basis enables you to open yourself up to it and the benefits it brings in ever greater measure.

How Improved Self-Confidence and Self-Worth Help You

One of the biggest issues that you can face during testing, grading or any point of time where you are needing to recall and work with knowledge is second guessing yourself. Wondering if you have the right piece of information, if you remember it properly, whether it is the right context or all manner of things in that way can hamper your ability to study and work effectively.

Self-awareness plays a massive part in self confidence, knowing who you are, knowing your own mind and having faith in yourself all combine together to generate the confidence that enables you to believe in yourself.

This is something which SYILI (Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute) has as a core element of the work they do. The founder and chairman of SYILI, Chade-Meng Tan, became known as the “Jolly Good Fellow” at Google where he started out as a software engineer in 2000. It was later in his career there when he was the head of personal growth and a member of the talent team that he wrote the New York Times Best Seller “Search Inside Yourself”, something which then became part of the foundation for the work his organisation does now.

Working from a base of mindfulness, which is augmented by other things dependent on the teacher and their perspectives, they work to enhance productivity and wellness within people. Part of that is through the enhancement of self-awareness which in turn raises self-confidence.

“One of the best ways to build self-confidence is not to focus on confidence, but on self-awareness. Meditation helps facilitate that self-awareness.”

The further knock on from enhanced self-awareness and self-confidence is that you in turn value yourself more. You feel good about who you are and how you fit in to the world around you. This is something which then creates a further upward spiral of strength, reinforcing everything else aforementioned.

As your confidence rises so does your self-worth. As your self-worth rises you feel more confident in everything else you do. You question yourself less and less, and you have greater faith in your knowledge and what you believe. Your level of creativity increases as you feel able to just do things and they will turn out right as you will do the right things as required. Your confidence in yourself and your increased level of self-awareness leads you to have a deeper rapport with your own mind, and as a result you can recall information from your memory with greater ease, and you can focus more easily when you do so as your sense of self-assuredness has you feeling less distractions. It is a spiral that serves you incredibly well, and it is simple to fuel and build with regular meditation.

Calmness And Success

The more your practice meditating the calmer you become. It is one of the most natural things. Through taking time to quieten your mind, to develop a state of inner peace, you inherently become calm as a result. The calmness deepens with time and practice, enabling you to function with greater ease and smoothness through everything you do.

One of the reasons that the fabled Samurai of ancient Japan were so strong and able to succeed when in battle and during fights was their level of inner calm and their intense ability to focus free of stress. A key part of their ability to do this was through the practice of Zen meditation.

Through developing the inner calm they became able to effectively ignore the things that would distract them from their mission or goal. They could become as one with their blade, moving decisively and with great effect. It was their ability to focus and flow that made them so fearsome. That intensity and flow being possible due to their ability to be calm and concentrate effectively.

As such calmness and success have a distinct relationship. Look at anyone who is highly successful, be they an athlete, entrepreneur or whatever, one of the things you will notice is that they can retain a sense of calm. Top formula 1 drivers such as Michael Schumacher have a sense of ease when they are driving, they flow with it. The less stress they feel the more effectively they function. Sprinters and other runners just focus on their end goal, crossing the finish line. If they become too wrapped up in what is going on around them, or how they feel, they lose effectiveness and slow down.

The Door That Is Open When You Allow It To Be

This is where your own opportunity for achieving success finds the door wide open. By developing your own sense of inner calm, and maintaining that calmness through all you do, you create greater opportunity for success. The sense of being at ease enables you to hold your focus and effectiveness on a mental and emotional level that leads you achieving what you desire with greater ease. It is only when you lose that, becoming stressed and losing focus, that you find the door to success closing. Meditate, stay at ease and the door can remain open for you. As such enabling you to achieve better grades and results in everything you do, something which has been evidenced by CWAE.

* Increase in GPA in meditators compared to non-meditating control group
* Reduction in the achievement gap, as measured by GPA, between African American and Asian students at Visitacion Valley
* Increase in GPA linked with regularity of meditation

How All This Further Benefits Schools And Institutions

A natural follow on is that as students become calmer and more at ease with themselves their interactions with others become more at ease too. With greater self-assuredness, greater self-confidence and greater self-worth students feel less of the issues that can cause them to lash out or “act up”.

The greater the sense of peace that is within, the greater will be the sense of peace without. The manner in which a person behaves, thinks and feels within their world is exactly the way it appears to them and the way in which they perceive it being around them. So when people meditate and move to a greater degree of inner peace, the more they feel unified with their environment and the calmer and more easy going it feels to them.

Harmony And Improved Relationships

This goes by extension for teachers too. As a teacher a person has the focus of the class, they have the attention of all within the room, be that in a positive or negative way. So if a teacher goes in to their classroom feeling stressed, angry, uptight or such, then the students will likely sense it unconsciously and their own behaviour shift as a result. By developing a sense of calm within, and being at ease in the classroom, class management becomes far easier.

When this is combined with programs such as the CWAE Quiet Time program or the Inner Explorer program results can move to ever better places. When both teachers and students are meditating regularly the atmosphere can become very peaceful, supportive, nurturing and an all-round good environment for learning and study. It becomes harmonious.

Better Behaviour By Extension

When people feel a sense of harmony and ease they interact together in a manner that is respectful. As a result of using meditation within schools one of the commonly noted effects is a large reduction in behavioural issues.

“Classrooms who participated in the program reduced their behavior problems by 50% (from an average of 2.6 issues per day in Week One to less than 1 issue in Week Eight). The classrooms that didn’t participate increased their behavior problems by 15% from an average of 2 issues per day in Week One to 2.3 issues a day in Week Eight)”
Inner Explorer

The causes insecurity and interpersonal friction reduce to the point whereby they can effectively disappear when enough power is gained through the meditative effect. It is as a result of the aforementioned increases in inner-peace and self-assuredness, and by extension everything that comes with them, that behavioural issues can be reduced.

As an additional note on this, positive effects have been noted in overcoming issues with conditions such as ADHD which has been noted by some as being a behavioural issue, through the use of meditation.

Peer-mediated multimodal intervention program for the treatment of children with ADHD in India: one-year followup.

“The objective was to assess the efficacy of a one-year, peer-mediated interventional program consisting of yoga, meditation and play therapy maintained by student volunteers in a school in India... A program, known as Climb-Up, was initially embedded in the school twice weekly. Local high school student volunteers were then trained to continue to implement the program weekly over the period of one year... The Climb-Up program resulted in remarkable improvements in the students' school performances that were sustained throughout the year. These results show promise for a cost-effective program that could easily be implemented in any school.”
Mehta S, Shah D, Shah K, Mehta S, Mehta N, Mehta V, Mehta V, Mehta V, Motiwala S, Mehta N, Mehta D.
Source Article

Results such as this indicate that the incorporation of meditative programs can bring wonderful enhancements to a school environment, with quality of life for both students and teachers increasing as a result of them.

Enhanced Grades and Scores Across The Board

With an improved learning environment, within which harmony is prevalent, teachers and students working together effectively and supportively, with increases in self-assuredness, confidence and self-worth as well as improved concentration and powers over memory it is highly understandable how the aforementioned grades and test scores improved in schools with these kinds of programs.

Getting The Best Of The Benefits Of Meditation For Students For Yourself

Whether your school, university or institution has actively introduced a meditation program such as the ones available through CWAE and Inner Explorer, amongst others, you can draw on many of these benefits for yourself.

By taking time to develop your own practice, meditating each day and building your ability over time you will notice your own mental powers increasing and enhancing with time. By developing your own ability to be at peace with yourself, and feeling calm, you can flow through your studies with greater ease, holding your attention where it can serve you best and flowing free from things that could detract.

If your institution does institute such a program then you can enjoy the wider benefits such as a more harmonious environment, though even if they leave it up to you you can still make differences to your own results and ability to succeed. Whatever your situation, achieving the best of the benefits of meditation for students and learning is up to you. Cultivate your own ability, take control of your life and flow in such a way that you can be your best. Depending on your level of practice and your desire for better results it may also be worthwhile combining the above with the use of brainwave entrainment in order to fast-track your mind into beneficial mental states for study and stress relief.

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