Conditioning our Brains.
Sportspersons, especially in the modern era spend just as much time conditioning their bodies, as they do actually practicing their craft. As more and more studies have taken place, we are slowly starting to realize how every little action we do, every choice that we make, has consequences and makes a difference to our performance. Top sportsmen and sportswomen understand this and they will do everything in their power to ensure their bodies are in the best shape they can be in.The logic that underlies the above paragraph is undeniable. However when we try to translate it to a different scenario it starts to get a little hazy. As a student in the academic system, the primary muscle that I use on a day to day basis is my brain. And yet, I never even considered looking for ways to condition my brain. Until today...
I am a firm believer in the fact that people will only put effort into something when they can see immediate measurable results. This is inherent in everyone and is enforced by the society we live in. Building on this premise, doing active conditioning on one's body provides visual results that can be appreciated and therefore there is no doubt about the value of the exercises. When it comes to the brain however, it is much more a feeling and a state of mind, that is difficult to feel and understand. Hence, people don't think of trying to improve their academic performance through conditioning. After today's experience, I think we may be missing it in a big way...
Today was the first module in a course called BrainFocus which is run by a Canadian neuro-scientist here in South Africa. The course was offered for free by my university and I simply couldn't pass up that kind of opportunity. His techniques are designed to lessen stress and clear your mental state while you are studying, or writing exams. We have all experienced exams where we know the work, but the stress of the situation causes us to panic and our thoughts fog up. As he spoke through the module, and we tried out all of his practical examples - it dawned on me how little attention I had actually paid to ensuring that my brain was in the best possible state to tackle an exam or a study session.
After thinking about it afterwards, I really think that this kind of course should be included in every first year curriculum because it is often the sole reason that students don't make it. Exam technique is crucial and I really believe that some of the simple techniques that I learnt today can go a long way to improving performance. If you get a chance to attend something like this, or read up more about it - I implore you to do so!
If you are serious about your studies, condition your brain in the same way that an Olympic Champion conditions his/her body. Make a conscious effort and you may find that in that clear state of mind we all desire, you find the results that you have been working for.
That's my goal for the next few months.