The Mentality of Meditation

Meditation’s benefits have brought it mainstream into daily life, including sports and academics


Photo by G. Proctor

Alison Little’s AP Psychology class participates in their weekly guided meditation.

George Proctor, Social Media Coordinator

From being used as a stress reliever to improving focus in a multitude of aspects of life, meditation has become a very prominent part of today’s culture. Many followers of meditation are drawn in by the benefits, such as increased patience, higher self-awareness, decreased anxiety and improved short-term memory.  With the ability to participate in guided mediation within seconds from the tap of a phone, the practice is incredibly quick and accessible.  

Meditation dates back thousands of years, and was first used as a practice of worship in countless religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. The practice’s religious purposes have changed, as it began to be used secularly as time passed. The practice was not scientifically studied until the 1960s by Dr. Herbert Benson, a professor at Harvard Medical School. Benson went on to release a book based on his findings and found the Mind-Body Medical Institute. 

The practice has had increased availability for those interested, with digital applications such as Headspace and Calm offering an assortment of guided meditations to choose from. With videos ranging from three to 30 minutes long and different types of categories supporting focus, exercise and sleep, the videos can conform to the user’s specific needs. The ease and accessibility of these apps have brought their usage to both academics and sports, which benefit from the increased focus brought with meditation.  

Alison Little teaches AP Psychology and has a lot of experience when it comes to the art of meditation. Each Monday she hosts ‘Mindful Monday,’ in which her students participate in a five-minute Headspace meditation at the beginning of class.  

“Meditation is a wonderful tool to help calm the mind. It can slow anxious, overwhelming thoughts. With mindful meditation we can reroute negative, unhelpful thoughts into more healthy, helpful thoughts.  This is important for our overall mental health triangle that focuses on our thoughts, feelings and actions,” Little said. 

The application of meditation in athletics has been applied to teams ranging from high school players to Division I athletes. In a study conducted by Amishi Jha at the University of Miami on their football players, an increased focus and mental resilience was shown in the athletes after four weeks with daily 12-minute sessions and was shown to be more effective in alleviating mental strain than simple relaxation.  

Cory Junker, the head coach of the varsity girls’ soccer team, plays a quick guided meditation for his athletes before each practice and game to help them “reset” from the day.  

“If we were to just rush into training, we wouldn’t be as productive since, chances are, our minds would be on a million other things. Meditating might be the one time during the day that the girls actually get to quiet the mind,” Junker said. “Practice and eating healthy are only a part of what makes a great athlete.” 

Brady Swink (10) is a player on the soccer team and finds that meditation helps her performance.  

“It helps to get any nerves out, to calm down, to get in the right mindset, and to just put everything happening off the field aside. After those five minutes I feel like I can get on the field and do the best I can for my team,” Swink said.