Education is an enriching and life-changing investment, and all forms of education — from university to professional development to perfecting a hobby — open you to new skills, perspectives and opportunities.
As a human, you are intrinsically driven to learn throughout your entire lifetime. Though your brain is built for acquiring new skills and knowledge, learning is a demanding process that can easily become both mentally and emotionally overwhelming.
All learning takes place in the brain — and by teaching you to intentionally develop your mind, mindfulness can allow you to receive the greatest return on your educational investment. With this in mind, here we’ll take you through how mindfulness can increase your capacity for educational success and prepare you to enjoy a lifetime of self-development and learning.
How mindfulness helps you study and learn more efficiently
Mindfulness sharpens your memory
Making new memories is essential for acquiring and solidifying new knowledge and skills. The memory-making part of your brain, called the hippocampus, allows you to form new memories and discern old learning from new.
The knowledge and skills you already possess can interfere with your best efforts to learn new material (called proactive interference). Established learning has a stronger foothold in your memory, which can interfere with your ability to recall the new information you’re working to obtain.
Regular practice of mindfulness techniques, such as learning to focus on the breath, body sensations, and the present moment, has been shown to significantly increase hippocampal activity and volume, reduce proactive interference, and ultimately improve short-term memory.
Mindfulness improves focus
Staying focused has never been more challenging. In addition to having nonstop access to more information, communication, and entertainment than ever before, we also push ourselves to multitask at work and at home.
Though the ability to work on multiple tasks seems a desirable skill for productivity, multitasking — and fielding interruptions from texts and push notifications — wreaks havoc on our ability to effectively concentrate. Your brain is not innately wired to multitask, and as a result, your concentration levels drop each time you attempt to accomplish parallel tasks or return to a task after an interruption.
Ancient mindfulness traditions, such as Qigong, have developed techniques over the centuries that keenly improve your ability to focus and concentrate. Breathing practices and meditation can reinforce your brain’s capacity for focus, and with regular practice, you can strengthen your ability to reclaim concentration even after you’ve been interrupted or distracted.
Mindfulness increases your emotional resilience
Managing stress is essential to your ability to learn and retain new information. Stress makes it difficult to retrieve memories and integrate new information into old learning. Prolonged stress can inevitably suspend you in a state of sympathetic arousal (fight or flight), which hinders your working memory and makes you even more reactive to perceived threats and challenges.
Though we cannot always control what happens or when we can develop our ability to respond more consciously. By calming the amygdala and stimulating your parasympathetic nervous response (rest and digest), mindfulness can help you respond to stress with less emotional reactivity. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, have also been shown to effectively ease the overall effects of stress and anxiety.
You can improve your emotional response to stress by practising 5 Element Qigong, which focuses on releasing difficult emotions such as anger and worry while cultivating uplifting emotions, such as forgiveness and nurturing. By increasing your self-awareness through Qigong, you can break free from habitual emotional reactivity and experience more grounding in reality.
Mindfulness improves sleep
Sleep is an essential ingredient for learning, memory, and problem solving. For your brain, sleep is the valuable time when information learned throughout the day is processed and memories are solidified and integrated into long-term memory. Sufficient sleep is so important to cognitive functioning that even mild sleep deprivation of 1-2 hours a night impairs your ability to focus, solve problems, and make decisions.
An overactive mind, worry, and exposure to stress can severely impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. In addition to impairing your learning and memory, insufficient sleep can also cause stress, mental exhaustion, irritability, and decreased productivity — all roadblocks to your ability to learn effectively.
A regular mindfulness practice, such as Medical Qigong, can help you reclaim a better night’s sleep by teaching you how to activate your innate relaxation response, experience the present moment, and release the effects of stress, anxiety, and rumination.
Elevate your educational journey with Qigong
Your brain is remarkably adaptable and capable of lifelong learning, self-improvement, and intellectual enrichment. Regular Qigong practice can help support and enhance every aspect of your educational journey.