This February, all eyes are on the olympic athletes competing for the gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. While their athleticism can be matched, their mental strength is what will set them apart. Representing their countries and remaining resilient while the world watches is tough. Many athletes representing the USA, like snowboarders Jamie Anderson and Brenna Huckaby, use meditation and yoga to help ease their minds and prepare themselves to compete on the world’s stage. Luger Erin Hamlin uses it to give herself a mental break and to center herself during her busy schedule.

While I, a stressed college student, am not facing the same pressures as olympians, it can still be easy to get caught up in assignments and deadlines. Just two months ago it was my New Year’s resolution to improve my mental health in college, and so I took a page from the book of these amazing women and olympic athletes. I tried meditating for a week, here’s how it went.


Before I started, I did my research. There are many types of meditation practices such as walking mediation, body scan, or mindfulness, and transcendental meditation. However, I chose to practice mindful meditation.

In a New York Times article, esteemed psychologist and mediation expert Tara Brach explained the purposes and benefits to mindfulness meditation. She says, “The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to become mindful throughout all parts of our life, so that we’re awake, present and openhearted in everything we do.” Mindful meditation is particularly helpful for students and athletes because it allows one to work through emotions and thoughts. The practice relies on focusing on the present moment and connecting the mind in that moment and the thoughts that present themselves. In practicing mindful meditation, all attention should be on inhalation and exhalation. When the mind wanders, the new thought should be acknowledged and given a moment of pause before returning attention to the breath. To begin my own meditation journey, I listened to Ms. Brach’s guided 10-minute meditation available in the New York Times article, and relied on these ten minutes for the next seven days more or less. 

Day One:

Ready and excited to start my journey of mindful meditation, I sat down to follow Tara Brach’s 10-minute meditation. At first, I was enjoying it, but as the minutes ticked by, I became really dizzy and my stress just seemed to be building. However, at the conclusion of the practice, I was much more alert.

Day Two:

Not to be deterred by one bad day, I tried the same 10-minute guided meditation the second day. This time, to counter my dizziness, I laid flat on the floor of my dorm room. It was in this position that I truly began to understand the purpose of mindful meditation and I was relaxed and aware of my presence.

Day Three:

On the third day, I tried practicing my mindful meditation first thing in the morning. Although I was sleepy, I used the 10 minutes to mentally prepare myself for the day. After, I was much more awake than I usually am and was able to get ready for the day faster than usual.

Day Four:

Halfway through my weeklong challenge, I decided to try a silent mindful meditation. Without Ms. Brach guiding my breathing and attention, I tried to be reflective and attentive to the thoughts I had. Giving attention to the stresses in my life allowed me to conclude my meditation feeling more at ease.

Day Five:

On the fifth day I did an unguided meditation again. On this day, having devoted attention to many stresses in my previous meditation session, I focused on being present in the moment and breathing deeply and effectively. I had a lot of work on my to-do list and was uncertain I would even have time to meditate effectively, but afterwards I was relaxed and had more energy to complete my work.

Day Six:

Tired after a long day of classes and club meetings, I knew I needed a good meditation practice to push me through my assignments for the night. I returned to Tara Brach’s guided mediation and focused on relaxing my mind and body. When the 10 minutes were up, I was recharged and motivated to compete my work.

Day Seven:

On the final day of my meditation challenge, I needed a morning mental boost so I could push through my busy schedule and have a productive day. I followed Tara Brach’s guide, but turned the volume low so that I could also focus on my own breathing pattern and attention in the present moment. After the practice, I was alert and happy, ready to face my day.


Initially, my weeklong meditation challenge was difficult and it was hard for me to find time and the motivation to practice mindful meditation. However, the more I meditated, the more results I saw. Meditation helped me be more awake and motivated, as well as less stressed. Additionally, I felt more appreciative and present for my life. Although these are my takeaways from a single week, I’m sure the Olympic athletes that are currently crushing the games are as equally appreciative for this hobby as I am.

So, whether you’re stressed from school, slacking on a resolution, or simply inspired by the olympics athletes at the games, give meditation a try. It can truly make a difference in your life and allow you to take home the gold in all areas of your life.