Hopefully you don't deal with stress the way we at College Down Time do, by chugging three cups of coffee each and playing ping pong until 2 AM. Stress gets to just about all of us when dealing with academia, luckily we can combat it with style, not the bottle!

You've probably heard about meditation before, either from TV, some old book you were forced to read, or from that one odd kid in the class who seems content with everything and has this odd sense of inner peace. In a few minutes you can learn the basics on meditating and what your mindset should be like throughout the process. Granted, it does take practice and patience to actually achieve anything, but at the very least you'll appreciate a way to clear your head during the day.

First, make sure you don't have any commitments to worry about for at least an hour, since we're just beginning. There's no way you'll be able to concentrate with a pressing matter hovering over you. Fridays are popular for us during the semester because we haven't had class on a Friday in years.

Second, sit comfortably on your bed, a quiet spot of grass (Bermuda bluegrass if you can, a favorite), or in an area infrequently disturbed. There's actually a remote xeric garden a minute's walk from my place on campus I use as a quiet getaway. You'll need a remote area to help remove your thoughts from your consciousness.

Now comes the interesting part: attempting to lose yourself. Cross your legs comfortably so they feel like one when you close your eyes. Focus for a bit on closing your eyes until you can't remember when you closed them. You may awake during this process several times, but once your eyes comfortably shut without being forced you can proceed.

Breathing comes next. Breathe normally for a few minutes until breathing is the only thing you're focusing on. Your inhalations should be steady and streamlined while your exhalations are slow, much slower than before you started. Slow breathing keeps your thoughts slow and steady as well. You might start focusing on your heartbeat, but try not to. Unless you're a Tibetan monk, focusing on your heartbeat is a lost cause. Now, it will be difficult to block out all thoughts, so for our purposes pick ONLY ONE. I've heard of picturing a flower on one's head, listening to the steady rustle of the foliage, or imagining a cup of tea. Just make sure you're using only one sense. Do not make it complicated.

With time you'll last longer (don't we all) in your meditative states and won't awake as often. When finishing, open your eyes first before returning to normal breathing. Stay seated for a minute until you're adjusted so you don't black out. I once lost vision for a few seconds due to jumping up after meditating for about 15 minutes!

These are the basics, try them a few times before our next article on a particular mantra.