The ability to pay attention is a key component of effective learning. Just think of all the times in your life when parents, teachers, bosses, and coaches have told you to pay attention to what you are doing. You would think that with all of the attention paid to paying attention, we would be pretty good at it. The problem is we're not, because most of us have never been taught how. Commonly adopted methods like forced concentration are actually counterproductive to learning and achieving our goals. In addition, too much focus on future goals and rewards takes our attention away from what we need to be doing in order to achieve them. Luckily, there is another way, a better way: the mindful way. The Mindful Way To Study: Dancing With Your Books is a guide to help students, professionals, and other lifelong learners develop a better approach to their educational and career pursuits. By using mindfulness, or the practice of bringing full awareness to the present moment, the authors blend the latest research with entertaining stories and specific techniques to teach readers how to truly pay attention, and even learn to enjoy it.
I'm reading through some books on mindfulness, attention, and contemplative pedagogy for work. This one is really not great. It is geared towards students and starts out with athletics and then goes in all sorts of directions without a clear path. It would have benefited from greater structure and a more defined purpose, as well as a greater connection between mindfulness and study. That's what I thought I would get from the title. The website associated with the book has a resource list that was the best page I read.
I have a few more books on my desk that I'm hoping hold better promise.
This is a great book for someone with ADD/ADHD, but you won't see those acronyms tossed around in the text - probably because ANYone utilizing these methods can greatly improve their mental functioning. However, this is especially true for people with short attention spans, quick tempers, and procrastination tendencies.
Some of the concepts may come off a bit cheesy, but if you approach them with an attitude of "At worst, this will be hilarious; at best, it could change my life", you'll find that more often than not, the latter of the two will occur.
For example, several ways for gaining a clearer perspective when wrapped up in a tough situation (i.e. stepping outside the box) are offered. One is to literally imagine that the boundaries of your mind have expanded so that the situation you're in occupies just a piece of it. To me, this exercise sounded like it'd prove to be an unsuccessful mind trick.
Recently, I experienced the technology edition of the Tragedy Trilogy: my phone died, my computer broke, and my AC stopped working. Every day contained a new and lovely experience. Lo and behold, on the fourth day, I found myself in a rubbernecker-induced traffic jam after a hard day at school. Reflexively, I began a vociferous reading of the Dirty-word Dictionary to my new freeway friends. After a moment of enjoying my First Amendment Right, I remembered the mind expansion technique and decided what the hell, I may as well try it.
Instantly, the muscles in my shoulders, neck, and back relaxed. The tension in my head evaporated. The anxiety dissipated. I was at total peace.
The situation that had enveloped my entire thinking now occupied only a small place in the middle. No longer was this traffic jam a personal affront to me and my life. Yes, it really would put me behind a little in my schedule, but it wouldn't cause any real tragedy. And since there was nothing I could do to change the traffic, why not enjoy the extra time in an air-conditioned vehicle away from school and household responsibilities? It was nice having time to finally relax a little, listen to some great music, and observe all of the interesting little places on the side of the freeway that I typically ignore.
I'll have to try this anxiety-destroying technique during midterms.
Anyway, this book contains all sorts of techniques for re-framing your mind. Several work really well for me, and I plan on trying others in the book once these become more of a "habit".
If you want to learn about speed-reading textbooks, cutting homework time in half, memorizing impossible equations, and professor butt-kissing techniques, there are dozens of fluffy books out there for that. Do your life a favor, save some time and money, and start with this book.
I read the first edition of this book while in law school, loved it, and felt that it changed the whole experience for the better. It goes way beyond your run of the mill study skills book. I go back to it regularly, especially when facing a new learning challenge. This is an updated version that came out in 2012 and which is available in ebook version (i found it on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-With-Yo...). The new edition has been updated with, among other things, very brief references to the latest scientific evidence on the effect of meditation, the effect of extrinsic rewards versus intrinsic or process-centered rewards on performance etc. That particular issue of motivation is addressed in a book and ted talk by dan pink (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUb...). I did some checking and found a great fee intro to mindfuleness meditation at http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/t....
The mindful way to study is written by scientists and lacks finesse. That is to say that the information is conveyed in a cumbersome fashion. The information contained in the first 5 chapters could have been written in one chapter, given proper insight and revision. There are spelling and grammatical errors throughout the book. They were so blatant that an average college student like myself was able to pick up on them consistently. Second, the attempt to connect to every possible demographic was over exaggerated and dragged out. One could have spent an entire chapter on one group i.e. militants and explained the intricacies of their specific methods of meditation. Overall the book lacked any real detail or depth.