By Sami Elizondo

By 2021, there is no doubt in my mind you have heard about meditation. You probably associate it with “granola girls” or suburban moms on a health kick. I urge you to put these generalizations to rest.

Everyone gained something from quarantine, even if it may not seem that way. I went through most of it feeling resentful and stagnant. However, over Christmas break, I had a revelation of sorts. I was cleaning out one of my kitchen drawers and found a pile of incense my dad accumulated from his work trips to India. I thought, “why not give it a try?” I am forever grateful that I did.

What initially pushed me away from meditation and daily journaling was the thought that there was one “right” way to do it. In reality, it is 100 percent up to you to decide what it looks like.

For me, incense, especially the collection my dad brought back from India, makes clearing my mind a lot easier. The first time I ever meditated was with incense, and now I can not go without it.

I also love listening to music when I meditate. I recommend scrolling through pre-made Spotify playlists and finding one that you enjoy. I love nature sounds, including trickling waterfalls and streams, but I make sure to play the sounds quietly so they’re not too distracting.

I understand finding the time to meditate can be challenging for busy college students. When you submit your last assignment of the day to Blackboard, you probably want to celebrate the end of a stressful day differently. I get it.

Finding a quiet place where I can fully relax has been something I have struggled with since returning to Boston. I am used to going out on my mom’s balcony and basking in the California sun while I meditate. Sunshine helps me feel centered and calm, and obviously, I have not been able to get enough of it in Boston.

That being said, meditation does not take much effort and the results, at least for the people that take it seriously, are beyond worth it. Wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual. Leave your friend’s dorm 20 minutes earlier at the end of the night. It comes down to whether or not you prioritize yourself and your well-being.

If meditation is hard for you, try journaling. I grew up with my mom constantly telling me to try it. She would bring home beautiful journals and pens, which all ended up as dust collectors. That is because, as I said before, it comes down to you, and more specifically your priorities. You have to want it for it to become a habit.

If you do not know where to start, I recommend writing daily affirmations. Instead of writing down all my stressors and using them as an excuse to complain, I journal to reflect on things I am grateful for and goals I am working toward. This way, when I pick up my journal, it does not feel so heavy.

Implementing journaling, affirmations and meditation have also helped me track my mental health. I noticed I feel my best when I am doing these things regularly. When I drift away from doing these daily activities, it is an indicator that something is off. Not only that, but it gives me somewhere to start getting back on track.

As I said before, this process looks different for everyone. Regardless of how meditation or journaling presents itself in your life, trying them out can give you a much-needed change of perspective.