How many times have you read something only to have it vaporize from your memory before you even put the book down?
The information age has created an environment that promotes overstimulation, short attention spans, inability to focus and overwhelm – all of these leading to incomplete learning and frustratingly poor recall. We have become used to learning using short video clips and having constant movement and noise in the background. Have you ever noticed the amount of streaming information, energizing music and constantly moving graphics in the background of any TV newscast? Information is coming at us fast and we feel obligated to take it all in! But that’s getting harder every day just because of the sheer volume and speed at which it’s coming at us.
Ever since moving pictures came along, we’ve been reading less and less, and it’s becoming more difficult for many people to absorb and retain information. The simple pleasures, and the necessity, of reading plain text is a skill that is fading quickly although educators are trying desperately to reverse the trend. But even though our reading ability has gone downhill in the last century, reading is still an important skill.
Getting the Most Out of Reading
If you want to get the most out of reading, follow these guidelines, and use the Silva Method to enhance your focus and retention.
1. Skim through it. If you’re reading for pleasure, you’re already motivated to read. But when you’re reading something less interesting or heavy and you’re dreading the ordeal of plugging your way through thick volumes, skim first. Skimming is beneficial because you’re exposed to the material twice. As you skim, you’re already creating mental pictures that will help with recall. Then when you read the text thoroughly, you reinforce those mental images. Make your mental images bright and exciting – this will help you retain information from boring text.
2. Take the National Geographic approach – most people look at the photographs first and then read the article. This primes your brain for remembering, since you’re already associating images with the text. Pictures are much easier to remember than text (in fact, think back to any National Geographic article you’ve read – first you remember the images, and then what you read). The more vivid and interesting the mental image, the better. If there are no pictures, then go back to tip #1 and skim the material. This will automatically generate mental images!
2. Highlight, but only the important parts. Making the whole paragraph yellow defeats the purpose. Highlight words, or short phrases – no more. Same goes for note-taking. It won’t take much to jog your memory so only write the salient points. Try to associate a vivid mental image with each highlighted section or note.
3. Summarize. When you’re finished – either with a chapter or the entire book or manual, write yourself a cheat-sheet or short summary, while the material is fresh in your mind. Just the act of writing to yourself mimics teaching
the material to someone else. This will help cement the ideas and concepts in your mind for better recall later.
4. If at all possible, read when your mind is fresh. Pay attention to when your circadian rhythms say is an ideal time to learn. If you try to read when you’re naturally sleepy, or extremely energetic, you’ll have a horrible time concentrating. If it’s not possible to read on your own schedule, then take notes, highlight and use sticky notes.
5. Read the end first if the textbook or manual contains a summary. Read closing comments and then go back and read the material. Refer back to your notes to make sure you understood important points.
6. Your reading environment should be distraction-free. No TV, no computer, cell phone, etc. Softly-played classical music in the background can help but avoid music with lyrics or music that is loud.
7. Take breaks. Get up every 30 minutes (unless you’re happily immersed in the material) and get your blood flowing. If you have a short attention span, more frequent breaks may be necessary if you’re fidgety or can’t focus.
8. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy food – dehydration impairs cognitive function and your brain needs good nutrition to function at its best!
The Silva Method can help significantly with retention, understanding and recall of material you read. The program centers around conscious functioning at the alpha brainwave level – a more relaxed state of brain activity which is more conducive to learning, self-programming and recall. In alpha, the imagination and visual images come to the forefront of your consciousness. We remember in images, so imagine how enhancing this ability will help your memory recall. The memory exercises in the program enhance your ability to visualize and use your imagination.
<<< Learn how to enhance your memory with the Silva techniques
Why is it important to be relaxed mentally, emotionally and physically? You know how difficult it is to learn anything in a stressful situation, or when you’re uncomfortable, or when you’ve got a lot on your mind. The Silva Method helps you take stress out of the equation and clarify your thinking by teaching you to quickly calm yourself in any situation and access whole-brain thinking. The program’s exercises are designed to teach you mental mastery so you don’t get sidetracked by thoughts or emotions; and they teach you discipline to remain focused and present.
Being in the alpha state promotes whole-brain thinking which will help you retain, understand and recall the information through the use of enhanced imagination. It is also the state in which you can use the Three Fingers technique to program yourself to remember what you read! You can also program yourself to remain highly alert while reading, to stay focused, to recall whatever information you want.
Ultimately, you will gain the most benefit if you develop your ability to focus and to concentrate for long periods. These skills are also part of the Silva Method!