Useful Tips on How to Learn
Information is flying at us at a faster rate than ever before, and you might be wondering how to learn faster and/or more efficiently so you can absorb everything that’s important to you.
Time spent studying does not equal learning. The trick is how to learn most effectively and efficiently. The following tips are centered on approaching learning with a child-like eagerness, including approaching new ideas with an open mind and insatiable curiosity.
Many people focus on memorizing rules, facts and figures but don’t necessarily put the whole picture together. Holistic learning is all about taking seemingly unrelated ideas and linking them together to paint a big picture.
1. Use metaphors. Metaphors verbally link two unrelated things to describe complicated ideas in simple terms:
- Life is a journey
- Choices are crossroads
Think of ways to make complicated ideas stick in your mind by associating them with something random that reminds you of that idea.
2. Use your senses. Apply all of your physical senses and an idea will integrate in your mind. Use your imagination to ‘smell’ a solution or ‘feel’ an idea.
3. Use stream-of-consciousness trace-back thinking. Pick a totally random fact or idea, and link it back to what you are learning. It’s like the ‘six degrees of separation’ idea. Everything is linked, directly or indirectly. Fire up your imagination! As you start to link ideas together, don’t do it in your head. Write. Doodle. Putting abstract ideas makes them more concrete and easier to link.
4. Teach it... as if you were teaching it to a bright 10-year-old. If you can “dumb down” an idea, or explain it so that a kid could understand it, then you gain a better understanding of it yourself. This applies to any bit of knowledge or skill. The faster you can teach something after you’ve learned it, the faster you will MASTER it.
5. Compress it. Some learning involves rote memorization (the periodic table, anatomy, etc.) but you can find ways to group certain elements together and compress that group into a chunk of knowledge. You’re compressing the big picture down to its individual parts: In anatomy, you have the body: then you break it down into the skeleton, muscles, organs, etc. Each of those becomes a “knowledge chunk” where more detailed information is linked together and becomes easier to remember.
6. Do a periodic refresher scan, even if you’re thoroughly familiar with a concept. There may be things you missed, puzzle pieces that don’t make sense until you’ve seen the big picture, and so on. Always go back to anything you’re not 100% sure about and try to fit it into the big picture.
7. Use your intuition. While this may seem a little ‘out there’ to many scholars, the fact is, once you learn something – anything – it is stored forever in your memory. The memory might be tough to recall, but it’s there. The definition of ‘intuition’ is:
- The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
- A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.
‘Tuition’ also means ‘teaching’ – and INtuition means learning that comes from within. You already have a tremendous amount of information in your brain; and when you allow it to, your mind comes up with amazing connections and insights. But you have to allow it. Often, the information you get via intuition seems impossible or wrong (see #8)… yet end up being exactly the perfect solution, or the catalyst for a solution. Learn to tap into your intuition using the Love or Above Spiritual Toolkit and develop willingness and openness to not reject what your intuition tells you!
8. Open your mind. The mind is a marvelous tool, but it has one limitation that hinders learning: closed-mindedness. Without fail,every one of us is closed-minded to some degree. We don’t want to be this way, but we all see the world from a very unique perspective, a unique set of rules about how the world should be.Whatever doesn’t fit into those conditioned, learned parameters, is automatically rejected. What we learn is filtered through the past!
The best way to become more open-minded is to play a “what if” game where you try on ideas for size, just for fun. No pressure, no commitment, just to see what it would be like if that idea were valid. Do this often, and you’ll enhance your ability to learn!
Those are the basics for improving your learning skills. But there is more!
Increasing Your Brain Power
1. Meditate. You need a clear head to absorb new information. Meditation teaches you to silence the mental chatter, to focus and to concentrate for long periods of time. Meditation alsoreleases stress, which is a huge contributor to people’s inability to learn.
2. Exercise. Experiments show that rats living in a stimulus-rich environment perform better on tests. But it isn’t the rats with cages full of stimulating toys who perform the best – it’s the rats whose cages contain a wheel, so they can run to their hearts’ content! The brain thrives on oxygen-rich blood, so get your heart pumping! Exercise also helps relieve stress, and if your physical needs are taken care of, you’ll find it easier to focus.
It’s well-documented that when you’re in an aroused state, you learn more effectively – so a quick run or brisk walk before learning will definitely help arouse your!
3. Eat well and stay hydrated. The brain is like a sponge, and dehydration interferes with its electrochemical activity. Beware of artificial additives and processed foods; they DO have undesirable effects on the body. Nothing beats fresh, whole foods for optimal brain health!
4. Challenge your brain with puzzles, strategy games, music and your passions. Get involved in something that intrigues and challenges you! A brain that’s allowed to stagnate watching mindless TV is not going to retain its sharp, quick ability to absorb and retain new information. Neural pathways are created through constant use – so “use it or lose it.”