When we are in a state of stress, we can’t think straight. Use this technique to eliminate stress and enter the ideal learning state.
The nose knows!
You know when a particular smell transports you instantly to a childhood memory?
It’s because the part of the brain responsible for processing the smell is directly connected to the parts of the brain which are responsible for memory (hippocampus) and emotions (amygdala).
North-Western Medicine scientists in the USA have discovered that you can coordinate the electrical signals between them.
So what does this mean?
Basically, what they’re saying is that you can directly influence the electrical signals between these areas of the brain by deliberately breathing slowly through your nose.
And when you do, you are faster and more accurate at spotting danger and you’re better at learning and retrieving information to boot!
You’ll know I’ve been saying all along, that when we are in a state of stress, we can’t think straight.
In fact, we’re not supposed to.
On these occasions, you need to be focused only on the source of danger, and not distracted by less urgent stuff. If instead, your mind started wandering towards, for example, what you’re going to have for dinner, you would soon become dinner yourself, and not live long enough to pass on your genes to the next generation.
However, slow and steady calming breathing shifts your body and brain into the ‘parasympathetic nervous response’. This is a good thing!
As long as there isn’t a sabre-toothed tiger running after you!
Our stress system has evolved to have us only focus on the source of danger, and take appropriate action. (This, of course, includes running away, attacking the threat or freezing to the spot, hoping we’re not noticed.)
So practising calming techniques such as nose-breathing, teaches your unconscious mind
1. That right now it’s safe to do so and
2. How to access that relaxed focus (the ideal learning state) quicker and more easily each time you do it.
I teach my students an easy way to get themselves into that relaxed focused state so that it’s easier for the information they’re learning to go into their long-term memory in the first place, and then easier to recall it when they enter that same state in the exam.
This actually goes for whatever state of mind you’re in. If for example, you are sad when you learn something, you’ll find it easier to recall when you’re sad. Same goes for if you’re angry or resentful or surprised or joyful.
And when it comes to learning and exams, what better state to be in than the ideal learning state?
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