A few weeks ago, I started an online course called Medical Neuroscience. I am already three quarters of the way through, only to discover that it is an advanced course, compared to the other two courses offered by other universities. My background is in accounting. No wonder I have been feeling dumber and dumber as I go through the course.
Nonetheless, I press on, because I am curious about the before and after. Before the course and after the course, what has changed?
Though I have not finished it, I have surprised myself. My surprise is not in the content of the course, but in the way the content flushes through my body—some of it is retained at the conscious level, some at the subconscious, some perhaps got flushed out entirely.
There was a medical study saying that if you sleep on the material you study, you would have much better retention rate. Or if you had a good night sleep before studying, you will retain the information better. I can’t remember which. But through this course, I observed how the information flowed through my mind, and then I understood the rationale behind the study findings. For me, if my mind is well rested, the energy flow around the head is swifter and smoother, which provides more clearance or less obstruction for the influx of information. As well, the information can easily come in and find a “room” to stay in. When everything is in perfect working order, the information is properly received, catalogued, stored, etc. In contrast, a tired mind is like a chaotic train station where nothing is running on time or in order, and traffic of humans and trains go every which way or nowhere.
Second thing I observed is that when I need to retain a lot of complicated information, or densely compacted details in a short span of time, I need to relax or loosen my mind and body. The key is not relaxation, but deep relaxation, such that the information can sink in deeper into my consciousness. If it doesn’t sink deep enough, it floats above my conscious mind, and it will float away. If it sinks in deep enough, I can retain it in my memory more. In practical terms, I tend to sit on my couch when I study. That’s when my body is most relaxed. And this is a different study posture than what I used to do when I was a student. I used to sit at a desk and write down notes as I go through the lecture or go through the reading. Writing helps me to ground the information, which is equivalent to pulling the information deeper into my consciousness, for better retention. However, during writing my musculature tends to tense up quite a bit, not just in the shoulders, but the whole body, all the way down to my base chakra. The tension conflicts with grounding and with smooth energy flows. And I notice that I used to make an active effort to pull information in, causing quite a bit of mental strain. Now I don’t want to repeat this pattern of energy flow. I want the information to glide or slide in effortlessly. I want to do the opposite of what I used to do. That is growth and healing.
Third thing I observed is that I need to be still and stable when I need to download a very large body of complicated information in a short span of time. The energetic stillness allows a much efficient and smoother flow of energy. Stillness also means no distraction or stimulation. The best way to achieve this is to use headphones when listening to the lecture, so that all other sounds do not make their way to my nervous system, which means I do not need to mentally filter out other noise. Even in a room where there is no noise, I can still benefit from the headphones, because the headphones have a push effect, where information is seemingly pushed into my mind. That way, 100% of my effort is used to receive information. Another way is to sit in a spot where there is no visual distraction. For me, I sit facing my balcony, and I can see cars coming and going outside. Every time a car passes by, my eyes go to the car. Distraction! And my mind goes out to the car too! Then I have to use my energy to bring my mind back to the course material. Inefficient use of my energy!
There are other things that I observed that are a bit more complicated to explain. For example, I find that the information is better processed or comprehended if I just stare into space and listen to the lecture, instead of looking or reading the text material. I find that information flows smoother through my auditory channel than visual channel. This is odd because I am a visual person, unless my visual sensory system has deteriorated lately. Hopefully not. Also, there’s a distinct difference and partition of functions between perception and comprehension. Perception is the picking up of the auditory signals whereas comprehension is the assignment of meaning to those signals. I consider these two to be very separate processes, though they may give the illusion of being one and the same, because when you listen, you normally would also understand. But the listening and the comprehension can happen separately, or one can happen without the other—if I comprehend without picking up the words from the speaker, I call that telepathy. Sometimes that’s what I experience, which is why I wonder about my nervous system. More specifically, I only have difficulties picking up auditory signals from certain humans. Thankfully, the lecturer of this course speaks very clearly and calmly, hence I do not experience perception difficulty.
The last observation is of particular interest to me as it pertains to human connection, which is something I have been trying to heal, but find that it is much more convoluted than I can handle.
Most of my observations relate to the quality of energy flow during information acquisition. As the information enters and passes through the different channels in my head, I get to observe and feel the quality of the flow. It’s similar to how a scientist would dye a cell so to highlight its activities when seen under a microscope. I now understand how I would stumble upon this advanced course, out of all the possible courses I could have chosen. Exactly because it is advanced, its intensity provides a very good opportunity to observe the operations of my more intricate mental processes that an easier course would otherwise not engage, hence allowing me not only to understand my mental processes and faculties better, but also to heal areas of underperformance.
Hopefully, I won’t get dumber and dumber. But then, it’s okay to be dumb.