I’ll admit it; I’m not a very traditional student. I always got called out by the other kids in school for how little I appeared to work at school (which isn’t true at all, I just had my own ways of doing things). I take terrible notes, and though I have made a couple of failed attempts at note-taking during my business degree, I always ended up remembering why I stopped doing it when I was 17. I’m not great at reviewing things, and the more I review, the less I seem to be able to piece together a good essay in an exam situation. I don’t do a lot of essay outlines; I prefer to make a few notes when I come up with ideas and edit things as I go in a Word document (in exams I usually make a flimsy outline, just to keep myself on track). My redeeming qualities are that I am blessed with an excellent memory; it’s almost photographic, which is why I tend to do better in classes with textbooks that have pictures in them, not because I remember the picture or am a visual learner, but rather the pictures act as anchors that help me to remember the page and its contents. I also read extensively, and I’m able to easily link together ideas from different texts, newspapers, courses, journals, and even popular culture. I also use meditation as a study technique.
When I say “meditation”, I don’t mean more traditional forms. I’ve always been more inclined towards more of a mindful meditation practice. I think it comes from the fact that I used to daydream extensively as a kid. I come up with some great ideas this way. I sit down (or lie down) and relax, and play some relaxing music and just let my mind wander. Sometimes taking a bath or going for a walk helps as well. Much like the article I posted above advises, I focus on relaxing my body, clearing my head, and on my breathing. Then, I try to absorb the world around me, and then let my mind wander. I usually try not to direct my thoughts so much, and if I’ve been studying shortly beforehand, these are usually the things that will come to mind. I find it really helps me reflect on what I’ve learned, connect ideas, and come up with new insights.
I also find that meditation helps me stay calmer, which also helps me remember things. There is no memory killer more potent than stress. After all, your body can’t really tell the difference between small stress and bigger threats, so when you’re stressed out, you’re really just trying to stay alive 😉 Not only does it improve my memory and help reflect on things I’ve learned, but also meditation helps me achieve better mental discipline. It’s useful in so many ways!
Meditation has applications in other things too. It’s been invaluable in my creative work, for example. I highly recommend you try it. Mindfulness isn’t the only kind of mediation that’s effective for studying. You might also want to try different kinds and see what works best for you. Also, for the record, I’m not the only person who thinks this is a good idea. If you want to learn more about meditation as a study or working technique, The following pages have some great info:
-I am not recommending that you do not take notes or review. For many people, these are invaluable study techniques.
-I came up with the idea for this post while I was in the bath, practicing a bit of mindfulness.