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For many students, the greatest challenge of sitting for exams is test anxiety. In this course, we explore the tools and practices you can use to conquer your test anxiety. The overall idea is to adopt a more mindful approach to test taking. Mindfulness entails more closely observing your posture, your breath, and your mind. Developing greater mindfulness has been scientifically proved to help reduce stress and improve performance across many different disciplines!
Through these exercises, we seek to establish the three pillars of mindful test taking: 1. A Calm Body, 2. A Confident Mind, and 3. A Focused Spirit. A calm body helps you stay grounded and settled, thus optimizing your concentration and mental acuity. A confident mind recognizes your own innate brilliance, slamming the door shut on all negativity. And a focused spirit helps you persevere through the most challenging moments of your journey towards success!
The course is organized into five sections, each introduced by a brief talk followed by the actual guided practices.
I. A Mindful Approach To Test-Taking
II. The Calm Body
III. The Confident Mind
IV. The Focused Spirit
V. The Big Picture
I would like to develop real relationships with my students in this course above and beyond the video instruction. Please post questions and comments here on the course board and I will be sure to reply to them in a timely manner. Also, I plan to upload occasional video updates to address any larger arising concerns. If there is enough interest, I will certainly host live sessions so we can talk about the ideas and practices introduced herein in greater depth. Please also consider posting a review of the course here at Udemy. And lastly, if you would like to meet with me directly in New York City or online via Skype, please just let me know! I do hope to develop real relationships with my students through a dynamic discussion of the practices introduced here!
And finally, I want to thank those who have taught me. Much of the material for this course has been drawn from two of my own teachers. First, my meditation teacher Dr. Reginald Ray has helped me over the years develop my own meditation practice. I am grateful to him for his precious teachings. Second, Dr. Ben Berstein's book "Test Success" was particularly helpful to me as I developed the practices for and structure of this course. I would like to see his fine book taught all across the country! I thank both of these teachers for their excellent contributions to the field of mindfulness!
So let's get started! Take a look at the opening talk in the promotional video above! And then sign up and let's conquer that test anxiety once and for all!
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|Section 1: A Mindful Approach To Test Taking|
Opening Talk: Test Success!Preview
The foundation of a mindful approach to test taking is developing a better understanding of our own minds. And meditation practice is the single most helpful tool in doing so! In this video, we look at the three stages of Mindfulness practice: Posture, Breath, and Mind. When we stabilize these aspects of ourselves, we open ourselves up to optimal performance on whatever challenge lies before us!
In this guided meditation, we examine how the right sitting posture can ground you and bring you into the settled state most ideal for optimal test performance.
In this guided exercise, we work on dissolving at the end of the out-breath. The goal is to achieve a state of relaxation ideal for test performance. We examine how the body truly relaxes when breathing out, and we also look closely at the little natural "gap" of perfect rest that exists between the end of the out-breath and the beginning of the next breath.
|Section 2: Calming & Grounding The Body|
Talk #2: The Calm Body
As we expand our understanding our how our minds and how our emotions operate, we can experiment with more powerful and subtle forms of meditation. In this guided exercise, we bring both our breath and awareness into each and every part of our body—starting with our toes and ending at the tip of the head. With each breath, we bring greater relaxation to that particular part of the body. A quick body scan before the exam can make all the difference!
Ultimately we do the bulk of our breathing work in the lower belly. Focusing our attention on this crucial area can bring deep relaxation and concentration to the whole system. Try it and see if it works for you!
When stress or anxiety arises, one way to reconnect with your basic confidence is to open up your senses. Bringing your attention to the sights and sounds and feeling of your environment settles the mind and brings you into a more grounded state. Awakening the senses is a easy and quick way to get yourself ready for the challenge ahead!
|Section 3: Cultivating A Confident Mind|
Talk #3: The Confident Mind
Each and every one of us possesses a basic and powerful intelligence—our minds! The key to cultivating a confident mindset is reminding yourself of just how naturally sharp and brilliant your own mind is. In this video, we use the repetition of a simple phrase, or "mantra," to help train our minds to maintain basic confident in itself. It works! It really does! Try it and see!
The most successful people and the most accomplished athletes use visualizations as a part of their regular training. You can, too! Taking the time to visualize your success on the SAT or ACT or whatever exam you are preparing for can help pave the way to your best performance. It's a Zen mind trick! And it works! If you imagine yourself in the actual environment of the exam, answering the questions correctly, finishing the sections on time, feeling the rush of a job well done, then come test day, you will naturally follow the course your visualization of success has paved! In this video, we examine how this secret of the pros works in detail.
|Section 4: Focusing The Spirit|
Talk #4: The Focused Spirit
In many ways, the hardest challenge of preparing for a standardized test is maintaining focus over the many, many months of preparation. Think of a novelist taking five years to write a novel or an entrepreneur building her business over many, many years—think of all the concentration such work demands! As a high school student, you are doing the same thing! You are hard working for three or four years, all in preparation for gaining acceptance to a good college. That kind of effort demands supreme focus! So taking the time to slow down and check in with your goal—and the rewards!—COLLEGE! YAY!—can really help you buckle down and stay on the path to success. In this video, we take a moment to contemplation WHY you are doing all the hard work you are doing and WHAT exactly the pay-off is in the end. Remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Remember, you deserve a reward for all your hard work! Keeping all this in mind will help you maintain supreme focus throughout the most challenging moments along the way!
|Section 5: The Big Picture|
Five minutes a day will change your life! In this video, we set the timer and do a five minute meditation focusing on breathing in through the tip of the nose.
Closing Talk: Personalizing Your Process & Staying The Course!
I am a writer, tutor, and online educator based in New York City. Since graduating from Princeton in 2001 with a major in Music, I have tutored mostly private high school students in essay writing, literature, math (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus), physics, history (US and World), and of course the SAT, ACT, and other Subject Tests. I also host an educational YouTube channel—https://www.youtube.com/user/PaulCharlesGriffin—with free content ranging from philosophy lectures to Calculus tutorials to poetry analysis.
As a writer, I have published fiction and literary criticism in many fine journals and magazines, including Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Brooklyn Rail, NY Press, The Common Review, Shambhala Publications, Big Other, Publisher's Weekly, and more. Over the past decade, I have also performed in bands as a piano player and singer across Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Lastly, I am a devoted meditator and aim not only to teach meditation as I grow older but also to bring a quality of mindfulness and introspection into everything I do.
I am excited about the exploding possibilities for online education, and recently I am committing much of my time and resources to exploring this brave new world.
I live and work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with my wife Erin, a painter, and my two young children, Iris and Lydia.