With exams in full swing, November can be a pressure cooker for students. The challenge is to succeed without allowing stress to take a heavy toll on your body and mind. In this article, I will share strategies for managing stress while performing at your best under pressure.
First, you need to understand that the best learning happens when your mind is in focused relaxation. It is almost like a runner’s high – you pushed through the initial resistance and shifted into the higher gear. Your sense of effort lessens, yet your efficiency rises.
The key to achieving this effect, and the most important part of any mental conditioning, is your morning meditation. When you first wake up in the morning and freshen up, sit up with your back straight and focus your mind on clarity. I teach a number of focused meditation techniques, but for simplicity and to keep this article short, listen to some energizing meditation music (you can download high energy meditation music from my site here) while visualizing a clear blue sky, stretching endlessly in all directions. Imagine that your body becomes very light and you dissolve into the blue sky. Breathe normally and just enjoy your experience of clarity and peace. When thoughts enter your mind, just ignore them. They’re the passing clouds but you are the sky – blue, vast and unaffected. 10-15 minutes of this morning meditation will start your day on a positive and empowering note.
The second element to managing stress is full immersion. Most people erroneously think that they save energy by doing something half way. They think that full engagement is tiring. However, the opposite is true! When you are fully engaged and focused while studying, your mind can shift into a meditative state, similar to what you experience during your morning meditation. Your full focus unlocks your internal energy, which clears your mind and allows you to learn faster with less effort. The key word here is Alignment – an alignment of your body, mind and intention. When you are fully aligned, your mind shifts into a higher gear.
The last strategy I will share with you today has to do with allowing yourself to find patterns and principles in the material that you are learning and trying to master. If you are able to (mentally) step back and observe what you are learning, like taking a 50,000ft view of the landscape, you will notice patterns. When you are learning individual rules, they may be difficult to remember, but when you focus on patterns and principles, you start to think in the pattern of the “language” of the material that you are learning. Soon you will learn to be fluent in it.
Immersion and Principles/Patterns are the approaches that I discovered when I was first learning English while also going through a Computer Science course. As I was painstakingly translating each word, it was very challenging and slow. At some point, I got very frustrated and just became immersed in English. Without trying to translate every word, I gradually became aware of the patterns. Around the same time, I learned focused meditation. Daily morning meditation cleared my frustration and stress, energized me, and allowed me to maintain an open and relaxed state of mind throughout the day. It was like a mental shower every morning and full immersion throughout the day and night.
Yes, exams are a very busy time, but it does not need to be stressful if you follow these strategies. Like my teacher once pointed out to us, his students, if you don’t have 15 minutes to meditate, you need to meditate for an hour. In all fairness, 15 minutes of morning meditation during the exams season will help you to perform at your best, with no sweat.
To your success!
P.S.: If you are interested in learning more about focused meditation and mindfulness techniques to help ace your exams (or anything you put your mind to!), stay energized and deal with stress effectively, contact me here to book your one-on-one coaching session today.