As COC starts and the quantity of homework AOC students receive doubles, a large concern our student population faces is our schedules. While busying ourselves with homework, studying, and extracurricular activities may seem like sure way to "get smarter", a 2011 study on mindfulness suggests being more aware may serve a student better over a long period of time.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) is a program that focuses on self-awareness, and more specifically, moment-to-moment awareness. Such practices included meditation and basic yoga poses. The meditation exercises that participants performed involved examining the sensation of breathing and gradually evolving to recognize other senses (like touch, smell, sound, and thoughts). By heightening one's sensitivity to their environment, the exercises provide participants with the opportunity to focus on the present, thus reducing one's perceived level of stress. The researchers's objective was to quantify the effects of the MBSR on gray matter in the brain.
17 participants, who were psychologically and physically fit had an MRI scan before enrolling in the program. None of the participants had enrolled in a meditation course within 6 months prior to the study and none were on medication. After 8 weeks (2.5 hours a day) of formal mindfulness training exercises in yoga and meditation, researchers scanned the participants once more. Interestingly, they found an increase in gray matter concentration in the left hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning, memory, and emotion regulation.
What does this mean for an AOC student?
Although participants in the study had 2 hours a day to spare to meditate and develop their pro yoga skills, the average AOC student probably doesn't have but moments to spare for themselves. However, by simply practicing awareness: of one's senses, of one's environments, and of one's thoughts, an individual can begin to reduce their stress levels while improving their brain function.
Read the Study & Learn More!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSU8ftmmhmw (video on mindfulness)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/ (study link)