The start of the new semester brings packed libraries, increased socializing, and more time spent on Facebook and other social media outlets. As the initial excitement of class subsides, students become consumed with a daunting workload. Many students spend large portions of their days in the library reading texts, solving equations, and trying to achieve the best grade point average that they can. Of course, despite all of this effort, a small percentage make the grades that they want to achieve.

In my experience, spending more time studying and working hard does not always offer the same positive results. When you are tired, unfocused, and unmotivated, there is a good chance you can’t really improve your grade anyway. It is like trying to walk through the wall in order to enter the next room. Sometimes it takes a different approach. Taking a short period out of every day to step back from the information that constantly bombards your brain will have a real impact on cognition, determination, decision-making, and eventually even your grades.

Meditation is For Everyone

Despite what you may have heard about meditation, it can benefit everyone. I am a 22 year old male who does mixed martial arts and plays soccer – not your average meditation stereotype. People of all ages and backgrounds benefit from many of the scientifically proven benefits that meditation can bring.

Although meditation has not yet taken root in all parts of college life, the practice is growing enough to garner significant scrutiny from researchers worldwide. Scientists at many of the world’s best universities have devised experiments to determine what type of benefits meditation can bring, if any.

A study performed in 2010 by the Wake Forest School of Medicine concluded that participants who had no experience with meditation noticed that working memory, executive functioning, and cognition were all enhanced. Spending a short period of time doing meditation on a daily basis was able to assist the test subjects in literally increasing their ability to learn and retain information – pretty useful if you want to do well on tests!

The large majority of students deal with stress on a regular basis as well, but the anxiety from test taking can actually decrease your performance level. As early as 1992, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School concluded that meditation was able to relieve stress and anxiety in almost all of the patients who took part.

If that is not evidence enough that a short period of meditation can improve your grades, one last study performed at Stanford should do the trick. Former substance abusers, perhaps those who have the hardest time with willpower and dedication, were split into two groups. One did meditation while the other did not. The group that performed meditation over the course of the study were able to increase their amount of sleep by one hour while those who did no meditation got less sleep. This difference in sleep accounted for a 0.70 correlation in the ability to avoid drug relapses. This is a huge correlation and shows a massive increase in willpower. When the decision comes to party or study, the meditation can help you make the wiser choice.

Starting Mindful Meditation

The concept of meditation is somewhat unappealing to some people due to perceived complexity. Sure, there are yogis who spend years training how to properly meditate, but I have devised a student-friendly version that will not take too much of your time, is not difficult to learn, and can offer all of the benefits I have previously described.

You can first begin meditation with only 5 to 10 minutes. Sit in a chair or lay down and close your eyes. If your dormitory or apartment is too noisy, plug in your headphones and try to relax your entire body and push away all thoughts. Your mind’s focus should ideally be on your breathing. If you have thoughts that pop up, that is not only normal, but also natural. Once you recognize it, go back to focusing on breath.

It will not be long before you can advance to 20 minutes and even 30 minutes. Instead of watching a television show, take a quick break from all the Facebook, Twitter, texting, and textbooks and you will see vastly superior grades.

About the Author: Mansal D. is a senior college student studying history at the University of Texas at Ausin. He loves meditation, swimming, soccer, mixed martial arts, cooking, reading, and writing on his self actualization blog, The Hacked Mind