Dayna Tran, Staff Writer

Recently, meditation has been gaining significant popularity among the crowd. But, what is meditation, exactly?

Some believe that meditation is some sort of mental concentration. Others see meditation as an extension of the Buddhism religion. People even believe meditation is like those cartoons where you sit cross-legged, say “ooom”, and suddenly start to float.

Meditation is not extreme concentration on a particular object for a long period of time. Meditation is not sleeping. Meditation is certainly not about staring into space and giving yourself an existential crisis. Meditation is defined as “the act of spending time in quiet thought for religious purposes or relaxation.” Although, one does not have to be religious in order to meditate.

Meditation promotes mindfulness, which can be seen as a state of thoughtless awareness. It does not strive to stop all of our incessant thoughts, but is intended to make us aware of them and learn how to control or neutralize those thoughts. It enables us to focus on the present, rather than dwell in the past or worry about the future. It’s like exercise, but for the mind.

Why meditate then? To many, it seems boring or a waste of time. The idea of sitting still in the midst of your own silence for a period of time seems daunting, or just plain stupid. But, meditation has been proven by research to be potentially one of the most effective forms of stress reduction. Not only does it reduce stress but it can also increase focus, happiness, appetite, and improve the quality of relationships and sleep. In fact, in a recent study, it was proven that meditation can even improve grades for many students. Students that meditated performed much higher in memory-based activities and concentration.

Meditating does not have to take up an hour of your precious time. Meditating can even be as short as 10 minutes. There are many free apps on the market available to aid in meditation. Why not give it a try?