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Back to School: What Is Mindful Learning and How Can It Help You?

This is not a drill, people. Summer is ending and fall is fast approaching. Yay for pumpkin spice and everything nice… and boo to back to school!

Seriously though, back to school season is here and it means business. Literally. But before we all go ballistic and take the school supplies aisles in Walmart by storm, let’s take a moment to think about how we want to tackle our next academic year. And if you’re prone to stress, anxiety, or simply want to up your game this coming semester, we advise a healthy dollop of mindful learning.

So What Is Mindful Learning?

Mindful learning is conscious learning. It means to learn with awareness and to pay attention to context. To monitor your attention and focus so that you can avoid a mechanical approach to learning that slows down your progress. This method not only makes room for creativity and critical thinking but rather encourages them. By adopting mindfulness in our learning process, we reject narrow thinking and, in turn, this allows multiple solutions and alternatives to our problems.

Why Is It Relevant?

Because one size does not fit all. Different minds need different learning processes. If we go around asking people how they learned a foreign language, for example, we’re sure to get a million different answers. That’s because there is no one way to go about it. We, as individuals, have a different way to process information.

As kids, and even as young adults, we get used to an education that relentlessly hammers into our heads the ABCs of life until it becomes second nature to us. And this may work to a certain degree, but it is restricting. Mindless learning will have us like automated robots, stuck and oblivious as to what to do in the face of change, or when exposed to a different style of learning. This is where mindful learning is different. It’s as much about honoring your own process of learning — and adapting as needed — as it is about being present during a time of learning.

How You Can Apply Mindful Learning

Have you ever heard that one quote “The mind is like a muscle”? Cheesy? Yes. But accurate in this case, at least. Think of it as flexing your mind. A flexible state of mind will enable you to see things from different perspectives and draw different conclusions.

In order to achieve a mindful state of mind, you need to:

  • Be actively engaged in the present (noticing changes as they happen, for instance)
  • Differentiate between what’s familiar and what’s new
  • Adapt to contexts
  • Be aware of multiple perspectives
  • Be resilient in the face of change and failure

Basically, tweaking what we know to fit the situation in front of us is the definition of flexing our minds. Being creative in solving problems, applying different methods, being open to other possibilities.

So, Can I Use Mindful Learning to Improve My Spanish?

Yes! Don’t get us wrong. Practice is a great way to learn; make vocabulary lists and flashcards if that helps you! But it’s very easy to fall prey to boring and fruitless repetition. Adopting a mindful approach is the way to go.

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