Mindful Meditation Helping Students Focus, Test Better
In addition to decreasing stress and increasing focus, new research from the University of California-Santa Barbara suggests that mindful meditation may also help students increase test scores and retain information better.
The act of mindful meditation is meant to steady the mind to focus on the present without any other negative feelings or anxieties coming into play and distracting from the task at hand. By doing so, individuals are able to control stress and derail negative thinking about past behavior, future decisions, and other aspects of stressful day-to-day life. Through breathing exercises and focusing on different parts of the body for extended periods of time, mindfulness meditation may assist with maintaining focus, retaining information, and even performing better in school.
At Santa Barbara, “researchers found that after a group of undergraduates went through a two-week intensive mindfulness training program, their mind-wandering decreased and their working memory capacity improved. They also performed better on a reading comprehension test — a section from the Graduate Record Examination, or G.R.E.”
Students spent weeks learning about and practicing, “minimizing the distracting quality of past and future concerns by reframing them as mental projections occurring in the present.” Exercises are meant to control triggers of mind wandering like worrying, and help mindfulness meditators block out distractions to focus on present tasks and information.
Researchers are working with local high school students in Santa Barbara as well to see if the same techniques will help students improve SAT scores. While long term users of mindful meditation say a two week course is unlikely to create long term effects, a regular routine of meditation could help students of all levels not only perform better on tests and in the classroom, but also decrease overall stress and anxiety that can hover over a lot of young adults.
As you enter finals and AP exam time, remember to keep calm and avoid stress. By maintaining your mental and physical health, you can enter the end of the year with a clear mind and strong focus that will help you perform better on your tests!