In this blog, we will take a look at the importance of focus and attention span for students, the challenges they face, and how meditation can help them improve focus and their powers of concentration.
Importance of Focus and Concentration for students
Student life in the modern world can be difficult to navigate. Children are often judged severely for their academic performance, and a highly competitive environment only amplifies the constant pressure to perform. And in 2020, the pandemic has presented students with a whole new set of challenges.
UNICEF data estimates that nearly 463 million students worldwide lack the necessary technology for remote learning, and that around 1 billion students are at risk of falling behind due to school closures. Meanwhile, a survey of American university students found elevated levels of stress and anxiety among 71% of respondents.
And then there’s the biggest challenge of all – focus. The aforementioned study of American students also found that 89% of them had faced trouble concentrating on their studies. Coupled with the mind’s natural tendency to wander, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this is proving to be a significant challenge for so many.
When attempting to battle all the hundreds of constant distractions in the world around them, and improve their focus and concentration, students are encouraged to look towards meditation to help them cope.
How meditation can improve focus and concentration
There is already plenty of research that highlights the impact meditation can have on our attention spans. This makes it an especially effective tool, and can provide a number of benefits for students to help improve focus and their powers of concentration:
The effect of breathing on neurophysiology
Our powers of focus and alertness are regulated by a neurotransmitter called noradrenaline. It is essentially a chemical release that occurs when we feel curious, focused, or emotionally excited. If produced at the right amount, this chemical can help produce new neural connections in the brain.
A study conducted at the Trinity College of Neuroscience found that our attention is directly influenced by our respiratory cycles. Researchers believe that by controlling our breathing patterns better through rhythmic exercises, we can control the amount of noradrenaline in our brain, that can help to optimise our concentration, improve focus, and boost overall brain health.
Ideal for beginners
Studies have shown that techniques like Mindfulness can help improve focus and increase powers of concentration, even in novices. Participants in the study, who had never meditated before, were made to listen to a 10-minute audio meditation, and subsequent tasks found measurable improvements in their accuracy and reaction times.
This makes meditation a highly suitable option for students to improve focus, even if they have no prior experience with the practice.
Combination with yoga for stress relief
Another significant challenge that faces students is the stress and anxiety that arise from an intensely competitive environment. Research has shown that a combination of yoga and meditation can play a significant role in helping to alleviate these symptoms of stress and anxiety among students. This combination of meditation and yoga can also help to enhance students’ mindfulness scores, further helping to boost concentration and improve focus.
Regular meditation has also shown to increase stability in the ventral posteromedial cortex – the portion of the brain linked to mind-wandering. This increased stability helps to heighten powers of focus and concentration, by curbing the mind’s tendency to get easily distracted.
While students undoubtedly face many challenges in the present academic environment, most of them out of their control, there are certainly steps they can take to make things a little easier. A well-structured meditation plan for students can not only help improve focus and concentration significantly, but also help enhance their overall mental and emotional well-being.