As a college student, one skill you are required to be an expert is your reading skills. There are many people who provide good tips and advice on how to improve reading skills. But in this post, I am going to take a whole new approach and get to the root or foundation on how to begin reading.
Reading is not just about looking at the book or content and understanding what some keywords mean. It is also not just about figuring out what the author is conveying. As a reader, you have to single-mindedly concentrate on the content such that you and the content become one.
To deeply concentrate, the first prerequisite is to clear your mind of all unwanted thoughts so you can focus completely on the subject that you are reading. Mindfulness is a popular term that is used nowadays in school and college circles to develop concentration.
Wikipedia defines mindfulness as the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. And the best way in my opinion to develop mindfulness is through meditation.
From Nervous to Expert!
Let me tell you a bit about my experience with meditation. Prior to my meditation practices, I was generally able to concentrate to some extent on things I was interested in and not particularly fearful of. Most times when I got a lot of work done, it was when I was pushed to do so by external pressure, either due to a work deadline or an impending test or examination.
A while back, had just taken a new job in a startup company where I was required to work with a lot of newer technologies. This whole startup company culture was new to me and I managed to pull through my work tasks with a bit of effort. My work output was generally acceptable but nothing extraordinary at the time.
Later during the thanksgiving holidays, I started a new guided meditation course online which was led by renowned guru who coached a group of us students through a series of courses. We were also given recordings of the meditations which I started carrying with me during my train commute to work every morning.
On one such day, my boss suddenly asked me to write a computer program in a new technology which I knew very little about. This code was later to be used in our production environment for processing very large amounts of data. In the past, something like this would have thrown me off balance and would have taken me more than a week to sort out. My boss expected me to be very nervous and seemed somewhat willing to guide me if I was unable to undertake the task on my own.
But it so happened that I wrote the whole computer program in a few hours and then shared it with my boss. Then he asked me to run it in the staging environment with huge amounts (many giga bytes) of data. That was successful and then I ran everything in production and things went smoothly. This was almost a miracle for me and I had been unable to perform in such top form with total ease and no stress whatsoever ever before the start of my meditation practices.
From then on I became an expert big data developer at the startup company and I was able to handle all the complicated technical tasks with ease. With any new technology, I would quickly get up to speed on it and be able to develop production-ready code rapidly.
What To Do
The first thing to do before starting to meditate is to have a comfortable place for your meditation. You can use a comfortable but upright chair on which your feet can comfortably touch the floor. Place cushions on the chair and something cozy and warm under your feet as well. This will aid in relaxing and uninterrupted meditation time.
Benefits to Expect
Meditation will enable you to have a clear mind free of any form of stress. Life will feel like a breeze and you will be easily able to accomplish mental and even physical tasks with far greater ease and with a sense of joy! This is exactly what you need to power up your study routines for greater effectiveness.
Meditation is Easy!
Some people are scared of the word called meditation. In fact, I used to be one such person. I never understood how I could be expected to simply sit still in one place without doing anything and without any thoughts. But later I came to understand that practicing meditation can be undertaken gradually and learning from a real guru can make it a lot more effective and worry-free!
Also, the intention is not to just sit doing nothing! A true guru can show many simple techniques for focusing the mind on a specific mantra or one single thought and so on. Guided meditation is also of great benefit for those new to meditation. In this process, the guru will recite the whole process and you can simply follow along by listening to them either directly or in a live webinar or an audio recording.
How to Meditate
There are a number of ways to practice meditation. I will describe a few of the ones I’m familiar with below.
This site is developed by a friend of mine who has built a beautiful resource to help beginners to practice simple meditation techniques at home.
This is a very simple guide and can help you to start a basic meditation right away!
There are many popular celebrities and successful people who vouch for transcendental meditation. There are practitioners all over the United States, India and many other parts of the world. Once you click on ‘Find a TM teacher’ and send a message, you will be able to personally meet with a certified TM practitioner who will guide you step-by-step through the process.
From personal experience, I can vouch for the fact that TM is perhaps the simplest form of meditation and is also equally powerful.
Dr.Pillai has developed a scientifically driven practice of meditation that combines eastern science with sound research. There are many ways to get started with the Pillai Center. To start with, you can join the free Yahoo! group for more questions or attend one of the free webinars for an introduction.
Practice Makes It Easier
Initially meditation may appear very new but with practice it will become a lot easier. Working with a guru and getting one-on-one guidance is always a good approach for beginning meditation.
Customize Your Study Environment
Now that you are practicing mindfulness and meditation, just setup an equally comfortable and well lighted room for your study environment. Keep some water and refreshments handy. You might also want to have a white board or a black board for note taking. But most importantly, finding a quiet and calm place to study is the most helpful.
Occasionally you may also want to visit a local library for your study routines. Once in a while, it is good study in a library as seeing many other students studying there can be motivating and will support your study efforts.
I will discuss more about other practical study tips in later posts. But now that you’ve already made meditation into a routine practice in your life, just focus all your concentration on your studies from now on. It should be so much easier now that your mind is clear and free of unnecessary noise of random thoughts.
This will make it so much easier for you to focus on the subject matter of your studies. Now, the sky is the limit and you can study anything that interests you and reach the pinnacle of your mental capabilities with ease!