Oasis Magazine Articles

Mindfulness Meditation - An Aid to Stress Reduction and Concentration

By Maureen Fitzgerald

Students are often taught revision techniques to help them to prepare for exams. However, other equally important aspects of examination preparation are those of concentration skills and the ability to calm oneself under pressure. Mindfulness meditation can help with these aspects, as well as a number of other personal challenges. Sometimes students can be very well prepared academically for exams and can be very effective at revision, but then can lose marks in the exam due to the difficulties with concentration associated with anxiety. The teaching and practice of practical mindfulness meditation exercises can give students tangible skills to use during an exam and to aid in concentration during revision.

Mindfulness is a secular form of meditation, which helps to train the mind to concentrate on the present moment. Those who practice mindfulness meditation do so through a variety of exercises, which emphasise concentration on the breath and/or the
physical sensations of the body. As well as assisting in the areas of concentration and calmness, it has also been proven scientifically to alleviate the symptoms of difficulties such as depression, anxiety, management of the emotions and chronic pain. It is increasingly being prescribed by doctors for these conditions and is recommended to doctors for their patients by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (in the UK).

It is important that students who have learned mindfulness practices make use of them regularly, ideally once per day. This will mean that they will develop the skills associated with being in the present moment, and thus will be more able to call upon these skills during a challenge such as an exam. These practices can be an effective preparation for revision sessions, so that this revision becomes more productive, due to the increased level of concentration. Students often report that they find these exercises difficult to start with, but that they become easier with practice (as their concentration skills improve). They also report improvements in their sense of well being and their ability to manage their difficult emotions. 

If parents or individuals are interested in finding out more about mindfulness meditation, there are a number of online sources and it is possible to purchase CDs and sound files on some websites with guided meditations. Some potential sources of information about mindfulness can be found on the following websites:

Mindfulness in Schools Programme (UK based):

What is Mindfulness? http://mindfulnessinschools.org/mindfulness/

Research studies about the positive effects of mindfulness on young people: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/research/research-evidencemindfulness-young-people-general/

Course schedule for teachers interested in teaching mindfulness to young people: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/register/teach/

Other sources:

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