“The number-one deterrent to student health is stress, according to surveys [conducted] at Portland State University and nationally,” says Mark Bajorek, MD, medical director at the university’s Center for Student Health and Counseling. To help students cope with their many pressures, more universities and colleges are offering meditation courses. According to the Associated Press, Portland State is launching a new “Mindfulness Meditation” course at the student health center. At Reed College in Portland, Oregon, the physical education department offers a “Contemplation Meditation” course, and last year a student-run yoga and meditation dorm opened on campus. The University of Oregon provides students with a menu of mind-body courses that has tripled in size since it was introduced 10 years ago.

The University of Michigan’s School of Music now offers a bachelor’s degree in jazz and contemplative studies. During contemplative practice seminars, students are required to spend time in meditation. At the University of Florida in Gainesville, students can take a course called “Neurotheology,” which seeks to explain how the brain functions during meditation. The course is offered at the university’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health. Students at Penn State are using transcendental meditation to cope with exam pressure. Even in India students are turning to meditation to relieve stress. “More and more younger people are opting for meditation as a means of relaxation from the stiff competition they face either academically or at the workplace,” Dr. Vinit Khera of Chandigarh, India, a meditation leader, told Chandigarh Newsline.