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optimal state to learn

How To Use Your Mind

by Robert McEntee on June 24, 2010

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them to the impossible.” Arthur C. Clarke

You would be astounded by the incredible feats of memory regularly displayed by “memory champions” and perhaps surprised that there are even such competitions. These demonstrations by minds not greater than yours are truly amazing.

I say “not greater than yours” while you tell yourself, “I don’t have a good memory” or “I always forget names”, which affirms just that. The difference is a trained mind uses a memory system which is much more efficient than rote repetitive fact absorption.

Similarly, speed readers know that they don’t need to pronounce words in their head which just slow us down.

For some reason, training one’s mind is scarier to most people than exercising their body, yet is invaluable in so many ways. Learning a memory system doesn’t take much effort, however, like anything else, requires practice to master.

Real learning takes place in a state of relaxation. Here’s a summary of basic brain function. Scientists have classified brain waves into 4 types: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Alpha is the relaxed state optimal for learning, and ranges from 7 to 14 cycles per second (cps). It was discovered first, hence the name, even though it’s second fastest. I use an acronym which is a wonderful memory device in itself, to remember it: BATeD.

Beta is the everyday “rock and roll” state, considered greater than 14 brainwave cycles per second. Lower than alpha is theta, which is deep meditation or the sleep state, and typically classified as 4 to 7 cps. The lowest brain wave frequency at less than 4 cps, is delta, which is coma and very deep sleep or unconscious states.

It’s counter-intuitive, however optimal learning takes place in alpha state which is pleasurable and calming. Children are in alpha state more than adults which is a secondary reason why Kindergartners learn things like language faster, using songs and rhyming games, than college students do in rigid, stressful classroom environments.

Here’s one quick, simple thing you can start doing NOW that can easily double your reading speed and learning rate. Before starting any reading or task that requires comprehension or concentration, take several minutes to put yourself in a calm state. Take several deep breaths with eyes closed. Release any distracting thoughts and place yourself in present moment awareness.

A great way to do that is close your eyes and look at the spot in the center of the forehead, between your eyes. This is what is known as the third eye. You’ll notice that it’s almost impossible to be distracted or anxious while doing that. Perhaps you’ll notice the forehead becoming smoother. You can actually feel the mind shift gears, like ripples on a pond settling down as you drift into alpha.

Congratulations, you have just learned an advanced “guru” concept for free, which many have paid thousands and invested years for in “advanced eastern meditation retreats” and the like. Now give yourself a positive affirmation related to the task at hand, such as “I’m a fast reader!”

Saying it out loud can’t hurt, but actually believing it is essential. Even if “the critical you” denies it, silence that voice and recommit to your positive affirmation. Now you’re ready to learn! Just that simple technique has enormous benefits. Here are some essential tools to further accelerate your learning.

For accelerated learning & improving one’s mind:

Magical Concentration (Ed Straacher)

Quantum Memory (Dominic O’Brien)

Accelerated Learning Techniques (Brian Tracy & Colin Rose)

Jump Start Your Brain (Ed Hall)

Brain’s Unlimited Power (Leon Edward)

The Memory Book (Harry Lorayne & Jerry Lucas)

How to Improve Your Memory (Harry Lorayne)

Mega Memory (Kevin Trudeau)

Improve Your Memory (Gary Small, MD

Buzan’s Book of Genius (Tony Buzan & Raymond Keene)

How to Think Like Einstein: Simple Ways to Break the Rules and Discover Your Hidden Genius (Scott Thorp)

Super Brain Bower, 28 Minutes to A Supercharged Brain (Dan Spotts)

Photo Reading (Learning Strategies Corporation)

10 Days to Faster Reading (Abby Marks-Beale)

Read More, Faster…On-Screen (Pam Mullan)

Eye Q Speed Reading Computer Program (Infinite Mind)

I Read Minds And So Do You (Anton Zellman)

Laugh and Learn (Doni Tamblyn)

Visual Illusions (M. Luckiesh)

Creativity and Thinking & Brain and Mind (both by Robert L Kuhn, Ph.D.)

Discovering & Recovering Your Creative Self (Julia Cameron & Mark Bryan)

The Power of Intuition (Judith Orloff & Deepak Chopra)

Brainwave Sympathy; Audios to Orchestrate Your State of Mind (Jeffrey Thompson)

Well enjoy your alpha state of learning and soon you’ll be amazing yourself and others!