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Meditation gives brains a break in the exam season: News

Seith, Emma. The Times Educational Supplement Scotland; London [London]. 17 May 2013: 8.  

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Weekly half-hour sessions aim to reduce anxiety and relieve stress.

A Glasgow college has introduced training for students in a form of meditation known as "mindfulness" to help them cope with exam stress, anxiety and depression.

The impact of the City of Glasgow College classes, run weekly at lunchtime, is being measured in the belief that if the 20 students taking part "give their brains a break", their mental health and well-being will improve.

It could also make them less likely to drop out, according to the lecturer leading the sessions.

Mindfulness is a technique for training the mind in concentration and calm. Students are taught how to draw their attention away from thinking and focus instead on their breathing, their present environment or tension in their bodies and encouraged to let go of thoughts and distractions.

The classes - led by practising Buddhist and communication, literature and psychology lecturer Dr Lyndsay Lunan, are set to run for 10 weeks. Students' levels of anxiety and well-being will be measured before and after.

The lunchtime sessions, which run for half an hour, can be topped up through mindfulness MP3s, available via the college's virtual learning environment for students to download.

"Talking informally, the students tell me they can't get to sleep, their brain runs away with them, they can't stop worrying," Dr Lunan said. "I hope this gives them a sense of being in control so they can choose when they want to think and when they want to stop and be quiet."

Some of the students were recruited through a poster campaign, but most were referred because of recognised problems with anxiety and depression. The majority are teenagers on National Certificate courses; mindfulness could be a particularly useful tool for this group, Dr Lunan said.

"For a lot of children,...