Relaxation and Learning

The pressures of school and work can be very unnerving. There are just days when nothing seems to satisfy the boss or the teacher, no matter how much care and effort is put into the job. At times, the particular subject matter that must be studied or worked on is not just that interesting, and so the need to exert double the effort – first to overcome one’s dislike for the job, and then to do the job.

This is not the best of circumstances within which one confronts a mental activity before him. It is even worse when one is of mature age and lacking in the idealism and energy of youth. It is in these instances when learning a lesson or analyzing data from work necessitates the conditioning of a calm, open mind. There is thus nothing like getting one’s self into a relaxed, tranquil disposition in order to make the most out of a learning or thinking activity.

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Coming from a particularly taxing workday and before tackling the books for the next day’s lesson, I look forward to a warm soak in the tub. The lukewarm water and moisturizing suds not only wash off the day’s dirt and grime, but also its worries and consternations. A good 15 minute soak, coupled with measured deep breathing, feels like what a baby probably feels while it is in its mother’s womb. warm, secure, floating in perfect quietude. And maybe, some soft music and the scent of aromatic candles are welcome additions to soothe the other senses.

At least three days in the week, I don running shoes and take a morning jog around the neighbourhood or in the park. There is nothing like the rhythmic pounding of concrete and a cool evening (or morning) breeze on your face as you savor the sights, sounds and smells of the neighbourhood/park. Running, for some reason or another, helps you sort your thoughts and think through problems, so that after a good run the world seems right again.

At times when soaking in the tub or jogging in the park are not just practicable, I find that creating a mental picture or remembering an inspirational line helps put things in perspective and prepares me for heightened concentration. My favourite mental picture is that of gently rolling waves lapping the shore of a beach deserted but for a few people: white sand, blue sea, reclining chair, tall glass of iced tea in hand. This technique is useful for minute-long “mental vacations” to quickly get one into the proper mental frame for learning.

Even during the process of learning, there is sometimes need to resort to quick calming techniques especially when frustration or anxiety have began to build. One technique I employ in such circumstances is to remember my favourite line: Edison needed to try 2,000 times before finding tungsten. That’s all, and I find the second wind to try again. I can’t give up, because in my mind if Edison gave up after failed trial number 1,999, I would have been using my aromatic candles to read my homework at night.

These are the relaxation techniques I find most effective, together with occasional meditation and a body massage. It sound almost like a cliché, but these activities taken collectively help to “detoxify” the body and, in so doing, also the mind, helping rid them both of the poisons and impurities that impede our functioning at optimum level.

Yes, there are occasional problems in implementing any relaxation technique. Time is always a factor, and all too often one could easily say, there isn’t enough time to go to the gym or to make that jog. The solution is easy: Make Time! The wherewithal in engaging in these routines should not be a problem since the activities require nothing, or at least nothing that money can buy. In going through a relaxation routine, one should temporarily lock out the world, and look inwardly to unlock the reservoir of strength.

It’s all a matter of mind over matter.


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Madden, L. E. (2000) “Imagine That, Baby!: Developing Social Skills Through Mental Imagery for Enhanced Cooperative Learning”, National Forum of Teacher Education Journal, Electronic Vol. 10E, no. 3.

Plessinger, A. (n.d.) The Effects of Mental Imagery on Athletic Performance. Retrieved 2 June 2009 from: Thomas, L. (1985) “Dynamics of Visualization and Imagery in Therapy”. Why Me? Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human Spirit, Norris, P., Stillwell Publishing. Retrieved 2 June 2009 from: Yukelson, D. (n.d.) Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills. Penn State University.

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