Why I began meditating over winter break

By Natalie Ciociola
February 23, 2021

2020 was a year like no other. We all had to find ways to cope with something neither we nor our families had ever experienced in their lifetime.

I tried out many different things to help me deal with the inevitable stress and the sad days that came with 2020. I tried journaling, reading self-help books and going on walks, but while these activities definitely improved my mood, I found my best results took place through meditation.

Prior to trying meditation, I was skeptical. I was concerned that my ADHD would make meditation essentially impossible for me to get through. But I have heard time and time again that meditation will significantly improve my life. So many people have told me this, including friends, a doctor, a therapist and even social media influencers. I figured that I had nothing to lose and with all the free time I had over winter break, and that this would be the best time to try it out.

According to Very Well Mind, meditation can be defined as “a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.” Meditation has a long-standing historical and cultural significance. It is practiced in nearly every religion. However, you do not have to identify with any specific culture or religion to appreciate and practice meditation.

Meditation through yoga. Photo by: Jon Fife

There are many different ways to practice meditation. The three techniques I focus on the most are mindfulness meditation, movement meditation and visualization meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is very simple. It consists of acknowledging your reality and observing the things you think about throughout the day while not giving mind to your negative or judgmental thoughts. In mindfulness meditation, you should also focus on your breathing and maintain slow and deep breaths in through the nose and then out through the mouth.

Movement meditation is better for people who are too fidgety or hyperactive to do mindful meditation or other techniques. I find movement meditation to be a good fit for me because of my ADHD. The most popular and well-known way to practice movement meditation is through yoga. It is also a great way to incorporate exercise if that is part of your daily goals.

The last meditation technique I use is visualization meditation. It is probably something we all do often without even realizing. Visualization meditation usually is closing your eyes, being mindful of your breathing, and visualizing a person, place or thing that makes you feel happy and at peace. This is probably the easiest technique and the best for beginners. I believe this is pretty comparable to day-dreaming, which a lot of us find ourselves doing at work or in class sometimes. I personally like to visualize myself with a bunch of dogs with my favorite people in a field of sunflowers.

There are many physical and mental benefits that come with meditation. Many people look to meditation to help relieve stress because mediation is proven to reduce stress. This includes lowering cortisol levels in the blood as well as lowering blood pressure. Meditation also helps with symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses. In addition, it helps increase the length and endurance of your attention span.

I recommend that everyone tries meditation out at least a few times. You may be surprised with how great you will feel over time.

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Natalie Ciociola

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