This study explores the difficulties college students have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how mindfulness meditation, practiced through the Plum Village App, helped alleviate them. Sixty Marist College students were assigned to try the app for two weeks, and 28 of them stated the intention to continue using it. Transcripts of in-depth interviews with these 28 students were subjected to qualitative content analysis. Findings reveal difficulties university students faced during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2021). The difficulties were organized into the following main categories: Social Isolation, Mental Problems, Education, Restriction, and Miscellaneous. The students found that practicing mindfulness meditation improved their mental and physical health by making social isolation and restrictions during the pandemic more bearable. They utilized a portion of their time in isolation for self-care and self-awareness, and they reported being relaxed, less stressed, and less anxious—which ultimately led to more happiness and inner peace. Many of them also claimed it helped them fall asleep faster. In addition, students reported an enhanced ability to focus, and they became more productive with a more positive attitude towards getting better grades. These initial findings suggest the need for further quantitative research. Instructors, education administrators, and policymakers should consider incorporating mindfulness meditation into extracurricular activities to improve overall well-being and academic performance. Most importantly, mindfulness meditation should be everyone’s “Resilience Toolbox”—during the pandemic and other stressful situations. This study contributes to the fields of communication technology and contemplative studies.
Weranuj Ariyasriwatana, Marist College, United States