As a meditation teacher, many of my students are interested in using meditation for studying for their exams. They’d like to increase focus and concentration to help them study. [READ: Meditation for concentration and focus]
They’ve heard that meditation before studying improves concentration, helps you to remember facts, and can help to improve exam results. And all of that is one hundred per cent true. Scientific research (see below) shows that there are many benefits of meditation for students.
If you find it hard to focus when studying, if your concentration is not 100%, or if you’re worried about exams, you should consider using meditation before studying. This will help whether you’re studying for a degree, mid-terms, certification, further education, or any other type of learning.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of using meditation for studying. Then I will show you how to meditate before studying for your exams.
If you would like extra help to learn to use meditation for studying, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Benefits of Meditation for Studying
Did you know that there are more than 100 benefits of meditation?
You may have heard that mindfulness is good for your health and that people who practice it are happier than the average person. But guess what? People who practice meditation before studying improve their grades too.
There are many different benefits of meditation for studying. They include:
- Improves focus and concentration
- Reduces exam-stress
- Makes it easier to learn new things
- Helps you to relax between study periods
- Makes you more intelligent
- Helps us Tune Out Distractions
Simply put, if you practice meditation, studying will be easier, more enjoyable, and much more effective. And you will improve your exam results too.
Below I’ll show you how to use meditation for studying. But first an important question: Precisely why does meditating before study help? And the answer is: it tunes out noise in your mind so you can focus when you study.
Think about it. On any given day you have a million-and-one things running through your mind. You’re thinking about friends, work, dating… you have a ton of thoughts running through your mind.
Then you sit down to study. You lack concentration because of everything you’ve got going on in your life. And even though you know you should focus on learning, it’s impossible because of the noise in your mind.
Meditating before studying quietens your mind
Simply put, you need to quiet your mind before you study. Then you will be able to focus.
One of the best ways to focus is by increasing Alpha Brain Waves. These are brain waves that are produced when we are calm but also productive. They are the best brain waves for studying according to neuroscientific research by Robert Desimone [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2019].
Research by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology  shows that meditation increases alpha brainwaves in the posterior parts of the brain. Therefore, by using meditation for study, you increase alpha brain waves that help you to relax and focus.
Plus, meditation before study empties your mind of all that noise, the thoughts, and the anxieties, so you can concentrate. In essence, it prepares your mind so that you can learn the things you are supposed to be learning.
Meditation reduces mind-wandering
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, investigated the effects of meditation for studying. They researched how meditation affects mind-wandering. 
Mind-wandering is one of the primary problems you might have experienced when you’re preparing for exams. Mind-wandering makes it incredibly difficult to learn because it prevents you from focusing on the material, so while you are trying to revise for your history exam, you keep thinking about Tinder instead.
What causes this mind wandering when studying is a lack of working memory (short-term memory that deals with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing.) But research from the University of California shows that meditating stops your mind from wandering when you’re revising.
Researchers took 48 undergraduate students from the University of California. They tested the students working memory, mind -wandering, and performance on reading comprehension tests. The group was then split in two. Half the group were given a nutrition program. The other half received an intensive mindfulness training program.
Two weeks later, all the study participants were tested again. The results showed that those students who had practised mindfulness meditation before studying had less mind-wandering (or “Monkey Mind”). They also had improved working memory. And, to top it all off, they performed better in the reading comprehension exam.
There are other benefits of meditation for studying too. For instance, meditation harmonises brain hemispheres to produce whole-brain synchronicity, which is essential for schoolwork. It also stimulates the hippocampus and frontal lobe, which are imperative for learning. And it balances amygdala activity while also balancing stress hormones like cortisol, which alleviates test anxiety and stress.
How To Use Meditation Before Studying
There are many ways how to meditate before studying. Here is my best meditation script for studying, followed by three more excellent ways to use meditation for studying.
- You can choose to sit on a meditation chair, kneel, or even stand. For most people, I recommend sitting in a comfortable chair. Place your feet shoulder-width apart squarely on the ground. Your knees should be directly above your ankles. Make sure your spine is straight but comfortable. Lightly roll your shoulders back then relax. Gently move your head from side to side then relax. Slightly tuck your chin down to elongate your neck. I personally like to relax my face by scrunching up my eyes, ears, cheeks, forehead, brows, and mouth, and then relaxing.
- Place your hands in Gyan mudra. To do this, place your hands palms-up on your thighs. Let your fingers extend out gently. Curl your index fingers and thumbs so they touch at the pads.
- Close your eyes gently.
- Focus your mind on your breath as it moves between your nostrils. Observe how your breath enters through your nostrils, moves through your mouth, your throat, and into your diaphragm. Hold your breath for two seconds at the end of the inhale. Then exhale and watch your breath move out of your body. Then pause another two seconds. Continue to do this for ten minutes.
- As you do this you will find your mind relaxing and calming. Once you feel this sensation of calmness, meditate on it. It will feel like an open space. Observe the space. You will become incredibly relaxed. Continue for another five minutes.
- If you experience thoughts or feelings simply observe them. Let them come and go as they will.
More types of meditation for studying
1: For concentration when revising or doing homework
Arguably the most crucial reason for meditating when you study is that it improves your focus. You’re not going to learn anything if you can’t focus on what you’re reading.
One of the best ways to concentrate is to practise Zen meditation before studying.
Sit in a quiet room facing an empty wall, look down at a 45-degree angle, and take 108 mindful breaths. This will increase your concentration according to research from Henrique Adam Pasquini published in the journal BioMed Research International in 2015.
2: Meditation For Exam Stress
Probably the worst thing about exams is stress. It’s only natural for you to feel a little bit stressed about exams. They have a significant impact on your future.
That said, exam stress is only going to make it harder for you to study. If you feel like you cannot study because you’re stressed about exams, meditation can help.
What you will want to do is to use breathing meditations to reduce amygdala activity and to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which will help you to relax and focus.
When you start to feel stressed while studying, stop and take 108 breaths through your nose while meditating on the movement of breath around your body. This will help you to relax and refocus.
3: For general intelligence
You know you want to ace your exams. But perhaps you wonder if you are intelligent enough to score in the top percentile of students. Trust me, you are.
You can make yourself more intelligent just by sitting and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes.
Scientific research has revealed that meditation heightens activity in parts of the brain associated with studying and memory (frontoparietal brain regions, including the prefrontal, cingulate, and parietal cortices). So, if you’ve ever wondered if you’re smart enough to ace your exams, meditation will make you more intelligent. [Sara W. Lazar et. al. Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 2012]
So, those are the best ways to use meditation for studying. But what are the best meditation techniques for studying? Here are three exercises.
- Mindfulness: Use general mindfulness to cut out distractions and focus on studying. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course by Jon Kabat Zinn is particularly effective.
- Listen to meditation music while studying.
- Anapanasati: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breath) is the best meditation for exam stress. So, when you feel the heat, focus on breathing. For more on this, I recommend the work on Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Guided Meditation For Studying
Note that research shows that guided meditation is not as effective as traditional meditation.
If I have done my job as a meditation teacher, you should now be convinced about meditating before studying. If you’ve liked my article, share it on Facebook. And trust me, you can ace your exams. Especially if you spend twenty minutes focusing your mind before you hit those books!
If you would like help learning to use meditation for studying, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
July 2020: Research by Yale reveals significant benefits of breathing meditation for students. [source]
Study: Meditating can help you focus and keep your brain young https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/study-meditating-can-help-you-focus-and-keep-your-brain-young.html