Mute your mind with meditation

Carly Uhlig, Lifestyle Editor

I once thought my brain could not be silenced. Random thoughts would shoot through my head, sometimes making it difficult to focus in class or fall asleep. So when I decided to experiment with meditation, I doubted that it would be very effective.

For the sake of retaining my self-proclaimed title as the Torch’s wellness guru, I tried meditating for 10 minutes every morning and night for seven days straight, hoping to help quiet my mind. Since I had no idea how to start meditating, I decided to use Headspace, a meditation app containing different guided meditation recordings.

To learn more about meditation, I reached out to an expert. In a phone interview, Alexandra Crosswell, assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said meditation is the process of looking inward and focusing your attention on some sort of object, like your breath.

Humans’ brains have been trained to think and process multiple pieces of information at once. To put the mind at rest, meditation should return your attention to your main focus, said Crosswell.

My first day of meditation was burdensome. I resented the audio guide’s soothing voice as I struggled to stay awake at 6:20 in the morning. Although I tried to concentrate on my breathing, my mind drifted to the day’s responsibilities.

This negative attitude continued until the third day, when I finally felt some results. In the morning, I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor with my eyes closed, taking deep, controlled breaths while listening to Headspace’s “patience” course. I remained focused, and when the timer was done, my head was clear and my heart felt full of gratitude. It was a great start to the morning.

Over the next four days, I altered my meditation practice, trying different sitting positions, opening my eyes and even meditating in my car. I learned one method of meditation may not work for everyone.

I cannot definitively say meditating made me calm all day, but it gave me a sense of peace in the mornings and evenings. I also became more aware of my body when I wasn’t actively meditating. For example, I recognized that my breaths were shallow when taking a quiz, so I took longer breaths to soothe my anxiety. Meditation did not completely clear my mind, but overall, my week of meditation helped me start and end each day with more centered and serene thoughts.