As teenagers approach adulthood, it becomes more important for them to deal well with stress and anxiety in a busy world. More demands are being made of middle and high school students to place well on exams and to prepare for college. Teens are experiencing levels of stress and health issues that are comparable to adults, but when you add hormones to the equation, stress becomes more unbearable than adults might imagine.

Enter meditation classes. Meditation can greatly improve a stressed student’s outlook by offering a way to practice mindfulness and calm the chaos of everyday life.

Here are three reasons why meditation classes should be introduced into schools:

1. Meditation reduces stress in students.

Did you know that one out of five children are severely stressed by everyday life? 30 percent of youth report stress-induced symptoms, such as headaches and difficulties sleeping, because they’re worried about issues with family and school. Eight percent of parents of the sample population had no idea this was an issue for their children.

Many studies support the use of meditation to reduce stress among students. The Medical College of Georgia discovered that two meditation sessions of 15 minutes each — one at home and another at school — considerably reduced blood pressure in students at risk for hypertension (due to stress) over the course of four months.

Students are becoming burned out before they reach school — with exams, extracurricular activities, family issues and issues no one can guess. An NYU study found that high school students in selective private schools cope with stress mainly through substance use.

When young adults become pre-hypertensive due to stress or turn to substance abuse to cope with everyday challenges, something has to be done. The answer is not more medication. The answer is meditation, which relieves stress and improves overall health in youth.

2. Meditation enhances attention span in students, helping them to retain information.

The practice of meditation focuses on mindfulness and being present in the moment. This technique allows students to focus clearly and calmly on facts and not feel overwhelmed, putting their meditation practice to work in the classroom.

Cell phones, the Internet and the increasing speed of daily life can be distracting for students. Calmly centering in mind and body becomes a practical tool for concentration and analysis.

A random-assignment controlled study published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (Vol. 2, No. 1) found that meditation especially improves brain function for students with attention-related challenges. A video, filmed after the first exploratory study, features talks by students who have ADHD and what changed for each of them after three months of practicing the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique.

A second study followed up on the TM technique with 18 ADHD students in Washington D.C., ages 11 to 14, studying brain function and task performance. The results found increased brain processing and improved language-based skills in students with ADHD who meditated.

Meditation is proven to assist with improving information retention and brain processing in young adults. Such mindfulness work helps students excel in school and prepare for their adult lives.

3. Meditation improves mood among students.

When you’re a student stressed-out in a demanding curriculum — or, just a regular teenager —you’re going to be crabby sometimes, However, when that crabbiness continues day in and day out, it’s likely a more significant issue.

Severe depression affects one out of every eight adolescents. Negative self-esteem and the effects of peer pressure are also issues that are addressed and improved through the practice of meditation.

High school students at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts were skeptical until one senior fell asleep during meditation, woke up refreshed and now makes it part of her daily routine.

The 18-year-old student, Lexxi, has trouble with anxiety. She told CNN: “I tend to be less anxious afterwards. Let’s say I am having a real hard day at school and then I go to French and we meditate for 10 to 15 minutes, I feel so much better. No anxiety, no stress, just relaxed.”

Students who practice meditation in school have an opportunity to stop, breathe and consider the day. Now imagine students practicing meditation together in a classroom setting or between classes. Students have a moment to be okay with who they each are, no matter what they’re going through, in the presence of their classmates. That’s a powerful collective experience.

Meditation as a Mindfulness Practice Empowers Students

Many young adults may not realize how stressed they are until a moment to pause happens. So many feelings rush forward. Meditation provides the pause to breathe and the tools to deal with the feelings flowing within.

Introducing meditation classes in schools is a powerful and positive addition to any curriculum. Meditation brings awareness to issues and empowers a student’s sense of self-awareness, relieving stress, improving focus and lifting mood.

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