With 30 percent of teens sad or depressed, 31 percent overwhelmed, 36 percent sleep deprived, and 23 percent skipping meals because of it, it is clear than many teens suffer through stress, even more so than many adults. Stress leads to angst-filled, caffeine-ridden teenagers who drag their way through the “glory days” of high school.
With an adequate amount of stress myself, I decided to practice mindfulness for ten days. I meditated with HeadSpace and kept a bullet journal to see if doing so would have the promised result, to make myself more acquainted and at peace with the world around me. The program “Take Ten” is a free meditating experience where you meditate for ten minutes over ten days.
Meditation was easy enough. After exercising in the afternoon, I’d yell to my mother in the kitchen saying, “Do you need me? I’m gonna meditate!” My mother would reply by either laughing or telling me to go get my “zen on.”
After signing up for HeadSpace, I played the intro session where a British male’s voice introduced himself as Andy and assured me that I would soon get a happier, healthier life. Sitting in the dark, on a chair, in the middle of my room and listening to Andy tell me to get in touch with my body was hilarious to say the least. I thought it was so funny that I was meditating, a practice I’d seen in movies done by old men living in the forest.
After my first session, I didn’t recognize a significant difference. I still had homework that I hadn’t done. I still had wasted ten minutes of homework time. I didn’t see what the hype was about. My friends often laughed when I told them that I was meditating to reduce stress. “If you’re stressing about how to fit meditation into your schedule then how is that helping stress?” asked my friend, sophomore Max Kovach. “It’s honestly a waste of time. I wouldn’t ever physically choose to meditate.”
Day two came and I decided to talk to Arvin Ghaloosian, a former student of Physical Education teacher Breanna Hutchinson, about how the meditation had affected his life.“The meditation helped me release the stress I had from my previous periods,” Ghaloosian said. “I like to look back on those days and wish that I could do it again.”
Then I went to Hutchinson herself to ask what the benefits were and why teens should meditate. “I think it’s a good idea for teens to mediate because it’s simple and provides an alternative way to help reduce stress and anxiety levels,” Hutchinson said. “I wanted my students to be aware of and control their thoughts and daily challenges by focusing on breathing techniques and to take a moment away from their busy schedules to regroup.” With that in mind, I decided to take my next session completely seriously.
After getting home from a stressful day of school, I started on my homework, followed my bullet journal schedule to the dot, and it eventually came time for me to meditate. I turned off the lights, sat in a chair, and did what Andy’s voice told me: counting my breaths, feeling where the tension was in my body, letting go of unnecessary thoughts, and letting my brain relax. The session went by quickly. When I opened my eyes I was almost sad for it to be over.
Upon finishing my meditation session, I went back to doing my homework. For me, homework is extremely difficult because there is still so much to think about from the day. Thinking about drama, what that buzz on my phone was from, and all the events that still need processing . . . there is so much that distracts me from the actual work. Meditating made that so much easier. I finished my work and had time to talk with my friends after.
As the week progressed, I looked forward to meditation. I used a lot of skills in my day-to-day life such as clearing my mind when I was overthinking something or counting breaths and analyzing how my body was feeling.
Through the week, my bullet journal nudged me to not procrastinate. When the day started, I’d write down what I wanted from the day. Whether it was finishing a paper or talking to my friend about something, I wrote it down.
Whenever I opened my journal, it reminded me of what I had to do and pushed me to get it done. During breaks in class, I’d write down what I wanted to do when I got home so I wouldn’t have to think about it as much when I was actually there. I wrote down how long I’d do work, how long I’d exercise and then when I’d shower and go to bed.
Before going to sleep for the night, I’d write down what I was thankful for. Doing that just put me in a better mood overall. Getting to stop and think about how abundant my friends were or my life was relaxed me before I had to go to sleep.
When the tenth day rolled around and my free session of HeadSpace came to an end, both Andy and I were surprised I had made it that far. The last session repeated most of the techniques and ended with Andy telling me that I would have the happiest, healthiest mind if I signed up for premium for $12.99 a month.
With all the stress and information that is thrown at teens, meditation is a very good way to take a moment and slow down. “It’s definitely a good idea for teenagers to meditate.” said Rachel Gonzalez, owner of Sama Tree, a mindfulness,/ meditation, and yoga business in La Crescenta. “I wish I knew about meditation in my teens. I think it would have helped me with all the transitions and pressures of teen life.Teenagers have more demands now then they did when I was a teen and even more so than when my older son was a teen way before social media. Sometimes the demands and stress of teen life become so big that you can’t see past the immediate challenges.” Gonzalez offers private and group classes on Mindful Meditation for children, teens, and adults at Sama Tree.
I was not particularly excited to start meditating or bullet journaling. They both seemed like a waste of my time and a stressful habit to start. Since completing this for ten days, I plan on keeping a bullet journal regularly and maybe once in a while going back to Andy and completing the free trial again.