Meditation is a mindful exercise that includes deep breathing, focus, and awareness. When you meditate, you are fully awake, but your mind is not focused on external matters. Meditating helps relieve stress and anxiety while boosting your mood, which makes it an excellent tool for studying.
But what is better, meditating before or after studying? Meditating before you study is shown to improve memory, reading comprehension, and concentration. It can also relieve stress and anxiety while improving your mood, which is why it can also be beneficial to meditate after you study. For the best results, meditating beforehand is recommended.
Meditation is an excellent practice to help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with studying. There are several studies to prove how meditating for 20 minutes a day can help improve your memory and cognitive thinking. Read on to find out the benefits of meditation when it comes to studying, how you can practice meditation successfully, and more!
Meditating Before Studying
A study done on meditation and multitasking reported that people who practice meditation were able to stay on task longer, make fewer task switches, and report less negative feedback after task performance. (Source: Levy, Wobbrock, Kaszniak, and Ostergren)
A mindfulness study showed that people who practiced different mindfulness techniques:
- Had a better academic performance,
- Sustained attention,
- Maintained focus,
- Had greater long-term memory retrieval,
- Had improved reading comprehension, and
- Reduced the occurrence of distracting thoughts.
(Source: Goretzki and Zysk)
When studying, it is common for people to run into the problem of having their minds wander from thought to thought. A common reason people like to meditate before studying is to control those wandering thoughts.
Another study done by the Journal of Psychological Science demonstrated how a two-week mindfulness training course could decrease the number of times the mind wandered and increase cognitive performance. The students who were assigned regular meditation sessions throughout the two weeks showed better overall improvement on their Graduate Record Examination results. (Source: SAGE Journals)
One control group in this study tried to see if an improvement of nutrition would help to improve their performance, but they did not see the same results as those who were meditating.
Some other benefits that meditation provides concerning studying are:
- Meditation helps to train the mind to focus and come back from wandering.
- Another thing that people who meditate for at least 20 minutes a day noticed was that they were able to retain a large amount of information without much mental strain.
- Meditation is known to help reduce anxiety and fear, so meditating can help decrease the stress that is associated with preparing for exams.
- Meditation can also be beneficial before going into a lecture. This allows students to focus more on the professor and retain the information.
- Students have found that meditation was helpful for mental clarity, focus, and self-discipline.
How to Meditate Before Studying
When meditating before studying, there are some things you should keep in mind:
- Don’t overdo it – Start with a few minutes of meditation a day and work your way up to longer sessions.
- Make it a habit – Meditation is something that should become a habit rather than a one-time thing. You’ll get better with time.
- Designate a meditation space – You will want a space that you are comfortable in and can sit comfortably; this should be a calm and secure space.
- Breathe – Don’t forget to focus on your breathing and just let yourself go.
When meditating, an essential aspect of it is the space that you are in. You don’t want to choose a space that is loud and distracting, as this will make you more likely not to be able to focus. This space should be comfortable and quiet. You can sit on pillows, a chair, or you can do this lying down.
Once you have a comfortable space, you begin your meditation practice. Here are the steps you can take:
- Figure out if you want to sit or lie down.
- Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes.
- Take a couple of slow deep breaths – breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Be mindful of your breath. If you feel yourself creeping away from your breaths, bring it back in. You’ll be able to build a greater focus the more you practice that will allow you to concentrate more.
- After a few deep breaths, let yourself breathe naturally for several minutes.
- Be kind to yourself whenever your mind wanders and do not get discouraged; just bring your focus back.
- When you come to the end of your practice, take a few more slow deep breaths.
- Once you’ve finished, gently blink your eyes open.
- Close with kindness. Don’t be hard on yourself if you lost focus. Notice how your body feels, your thoughts, and your emotions.
In the middle of your meditation, whenever you feel your mind begins to wander, don’t get discouraged. Embrace that moment and re-center yourself. Bring your focus back to your breathing and relax.
If at the beginning of your practice, you find yourself losing focus often, you can shorten the amount of time you meditate. Start with 5 minutes for a few sessions, and when you find yourself being able to control your thoughts, bring your meditation up to 10 minutes, then try 15 or 20 minutes.
The Mindful Movement and Jason Stephenson have fantastic guided meditations for you to follow along before you begin your study session. They add reminders for you to focus on the breath and center your attention while adding peaceful music for added relaxation.
Listening to calming music adds a bonus to your studying skills. Research finds that listening to calming music is shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels. Music is shown to help people perform higher in stressful situations. (Source: Florida National University)
A Stanford study explains that music engages areas of the brain that controls your ability to pay attention. It also showed that musical techniques used by composers 200 years ago were able to help the brain organize information coming in. (Source: Stanford Medicine)
So, adding calming music to your meditation practice and having it play through your studying can help you improve your results.
Meditation After Studying
Studying can be a stressful process and trying to remember everything you just read can be difficult. So, meditating after your studies can help alleviate some of that stress you are enduring. It will also allow you to go about the rest of your day without worry.
You can also use meditation to give yourself some calming time in the middle of your studies when you need a break to re-center. If you are studying, and you feel yourself losing focus, stop, and take a few deep breaths. Allow your mind to calm down so that you can continue with a replenished brain.
Some people choose to do their meditation after they have studied to help them digest what they just learned, while other people prefer to meditate beforehand so that they have a rested mind going into it.
Meditation is a great tool to use to help you with your studying. It helps improve memory, concentration, and stress levels. All it takes is about 20 minutes a day to help ease your stress. Meditation before studying will help you retain all the information you’ve learned and store it safely in your brain.
When you meditate, you should have a quiet, comfortable space where you can take a moment for yourself. Close your eyes and take several deep and slow breaths. Focus on your breathing and center yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it at first, just breath and try again.