The Most Comfortable Way To Study: Enhancing Your Brain To Learn Through Health & Atmosphere
The Expense Of Your Mind
Okay so you’ve got a major test coming up, a big promotion on the line or that next interview just grinding at your mind to review over and over and over. You’re trying your best to memorize everything perfectly, the mission the vision, the questions and the answers, all at the expense of your mind that is constantly telling you it wants to rest.
Are You Worried?
Are you beginning to worry? Overthink? Do you lose sleep over it just tossing back and forth as you remain awake? Did it even get to the point you’re getting heart palpitations every time you think of that test or interview in the moment?
Well, this can actually all be quite normal for someone in your shoes. In traditional chinese medicine the intellect known as the “Yi” spirit gets very taxed over long periods of time. Studying constantly and reviewing wears us down over time and doesn’t allow our mind to rest. This results in the exact thing we don’t want, less memory retention in the moment! The Spleen (Earth Element) and Heart (Fire Element) begin to exhibit symptoms in these cases of extreme study and “student life.” This is why it is important to take a step back.
By doing less you can actually accomplish more. Rather than studying from the moment you wake until the moment you fall asleep, taking time in between will benefit you. This is when a mindfulness practice will become your best friend.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Meditation techniques, yoga, Qi Gong, Acupuncture, A mindfulness app, these are all examples that you could utilize. The reason this would greatly benefit your brain is because it activates what is called the parasympathetic nervous system, which essentially means, your body can come out of its stressful state.
Stress & Stimulation
So why does that matter? When we are unable to take our body out of the Sympathetic State (constant stimulation and stress) it hinders our ability to think clearly and creates significant imbalance that actually decreases our memory and cognitive abilities. This is because the body is so focused on surviving it has no interest in focusing on the little details.
In a clinical setting acupuncture and herbal formulas like Gui Pi Tang for example would be helpful in order to calm the spirit (also known as the Shen which lies in the Heart, boost the spleen (the intellect and energy) and as a result we balance the Fire and Earth elements (if we were looking at Five Element Theory).
So what type of atmosphere could benefit us here? When we know we have an imbalance of Earth and Fire, we need to make sure we have a place we feel grounded and secure, a place where we can focus and one that is not overly stimulating. This is because the excitement needs to come from the reviewing of material rather than from a television show!
This is why a place like a library is so helpful for example. When one is surrounded by books, it naturally stimulates the intellect and plants the subconscious thought of intelligence into the student. The more this is practiced within the proper atmosphere, the more reinforcement it gives the student that they are exercising a wise intellect. This type of place is quiet, and thus, calming for the spirit, allows the focus to not be broken and as a result makes the pages the most exciting thing around. The less stimulating the environment, the more focused the mind can be. Earth tones are a fantastic way to do this as well because they correlate with the earth element. They naturally enhance wakefulness but are still calming in nature as they are more muted than bright colors.
Where To Focus
Next time you have a big test to prep for, pay attention to your atmosphere. Surround yourself in a room with natural light, and physical things that remind you of how smart you are. The smarter you “feel” the more you reinforce that subconscious message of your capable intellectual abilities and thus it will elevate the way you feel about your upcoming test. This is because you will want to continue “feeling smart” and it will create a healthy habit for you.
From mindful practices as breaks to look forward before long periods of intellectual pursuits, the key is all about balance. Balance within our atmosphere and in our habits will ultimately create optimal performance on anything from tests to interviews or whatever we are studying for.
If you would like to learn more about this, check out my book “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body”