Can’t pay attention in class? Try meditation!

A few quick tips for our young buds to make their parents and teachers proud with good grades. Meditation is the secret to boosting concentration power in studies.

It’s the history period in class. Your textbook is open right in front of you. You are looking at it without reading a word. The teacher seems to be drilling some foreign language into your brain. You are physically there but your mind is elsewhere.

A common, everyday scenario in school? How easy is it to be gripped by an interesting comic or a mystery novel than to put your mind to books, especially of subjects which you are not too fond of? How can we afford to remain glued to our favorite TV show, without blinking an eye, yet not read even one paragraph to the end from a seemingly boring research study or technical report?

Poor concentration is a common complaint by parents and teachers alike, and our all- time enemy. And the worst is, it evades us when we need it the most – studying at night for an important exam the following day, for instance. Well, now there’s a sure shot solution to this problem: a simple technique called meditation.

Several research studies have shown that regular practice of meditation can help increase attention and sustain it, even during boring tasks. To quote one such research, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania showed that even a few minutes of daily meditation can help improve focus and performance.

Here are a few tips on how meditation can be your savior during those most critical times when you need to be extremely attentive:

#1 Meditation just happens. Don’t concentrate while meditating.

Time to break a common myth which says, ‘meditation is concentration’. On the contrary, meditation is de-concentration, and good attention and focus are by- products of regular meditation practice. When you meditate every day, even for a few minutes, your wandering mind (which loves to go off on a trip especially during those boring periods in class) starts settling down and focusing more on the task at hand.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s sister, meditation teacher, and the Director of Women and Child Welfare Programs of the Art of Living, often says, “Meditation makes a wandering mind into a wondering mind!”

#2 Love your subject and it will get you good grades.

This is a secret. When you start loving what you study, you are automatically more focused and attentive to it. So if you hate chemistry, say this to your chemistry textbook, “I love you so much!” and see the difference! Do you need to put in effort to concentrate on a cricket match or an interesting movie? It just happens, isn’t it? The same holds true for your books. Like them and you will concentrate better. The result: better grades.

#3 Practice yoga every day. It keeps boredom away.

Yoga postures, such as Sun Salutation and Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana), help increase blood circulation to the brain. As a result, there is increased alertness and awareness. Your mind does not digress from the task you are doing and you are also able to perform it better.

#4 Want to have more time for fun? Do pranayama.

Can you believe that a two-and-a-half-minute pranayama can help retain concentration for three hours? Yes, the concentration pranayama, taught at the Art of Living youth courses, does just that. It helps improve memory and retention power and reduces the time taken to finish your studies, so that you have more time to play and have fun with friends. Cool, isn’t it? Join the Yes!+ Course to learn this fun technique.

Shivani Rajpal, 12, who did the Art Excel Course shares, “The concentration pranayama I learnt at the program really helped me plan my time better. Now I come home from school, finish my homework in half the time I used to take earlier, and then spend at least two hours with my friends playing in the park. Even my mother doesn’t complain now!”

#5 Make Sudarshan Kriya your daily homework.

Better time management, good grades, increased focus, right decision-making for the future, improved relationships, strength to face competition and deal with peer pressure, reduce anger – whatever you name, the Sudarshan Kriya can offer. This unique breathing technique designed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar helps reduce thoughts in the mind, thereby letting you concentrate better, especially when it’s needed the most.

Shares a XIIth class student, Neeraj Kalra, “I was very tense about my Board exams. It would be very hard to retain all that I learned for all the subjects at once. But Kriya was my only savior. Not only was I able to remember all that I learnt but I was also quick in answering questions during the exam.”

#6 Eat healthy to avoid a restless mind.

Good food has a role to play in improving your attentive ability. The more you gorge on sweets, chocolates, ice-creams and other junk food, the more fidgety your mind will be. And naturally the less you can put your mind to studies. Simple connection, right? So choose carefully what you eat. Avoid food with too much spice or sugar and reduce the intake of fried and junk food. It can make you feel lethargic, especially in the afternoons when you sit to do your homework. Include more of fresh fruits and vegetables, juices and salads in your diet.

Uma Sahni, mother to a teenager, is quite relieved after her daughter did the Yes! Course and switched to healthy, vegetarian diet. “Now I see her focusing on her studies better, she is even performing well in extra-curricular activities and her energy through the day is commendable.”

Note: Ayurvedic medication can also help boost concentration. Devavati and Brahmi are examples. Please consult a Sri Sri Ayurveda doctor for more guidance on Ayurvedic diet and supplements.

#7 Sleep well. You won’t fall asleep in the history class.

Lack of proper rest can make you feel edgy and not pay attention to what’s going on. As such, you need to ensure that both your body and mind are well rested. Take a good eight-hour sleep and meditate for at least 20 minutes every day, preferably in the morning or before lunch time. This will give you deep physical and mental rest, avoid you from dozing off in post-lunch periods, and help improve concentration ability.

You can meditate in school, in your college campus, home, or even with friends at a park! In fact, meditating with friends is a good idea as it will help improve your relationship with them. Also, when you are feeling too stressed or anxious before an exam, a few minutes of meditating will help you collect your thoughts better and give clarity of mind.

Sandhya Gautam, a second-year graduation student, echoes this thought. “Every time before an exam, my feet would go cold. I used to be so stressed out. But after I learnt meditation, things changed. I can study in less time, there’s no need for another revision, and I can write my exam with a calm mind.”

Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks

By Pritika Nair

Based on inputs by Bharathy Harish, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher, and Shreya Chugh, National Director for Art of Living Youth Empowerment Programs.

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Founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,The Art of Living is an educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. Read More