May it be any professional or competitive exam, focus and attention plays an inevitable role not only for preparations but also for appearing in the examination. No matter how hard we have studied throughout the year, but if we are unable to manage ourselves mentally at the time of performance then all the hard work goes in vain.
To understand it better let us take an example of a warrior, because students appearing for competitive exams are no less than a warrior, fighting to attain a position in the world. There is a warrior, who, before going for a war spends an enormous amount of time sharpening his sword and as a result gets the sharpest sword with him. Now, imagine what would happen if the warrior loses focus at the time of war and makes one or two wrong moves due to loss of focus? In spite of having the sharpest sword there are chances he would end up losing, due to lack of concentration or focus or imbalance in mental stability. This is what most of us do in our examinations. The warrior here depicts the student appearing for examination and the sharpening of sword is the knowledge and learning that we gain throughout the year for that examination. Student due to loss of concentration ends up making silly mistakes in the examination in spite of having a very good knowledge of the topic. It happens that we give importance to preparation part but forget about how to handle the performance part of examination. Now how to deal with those 3 hours of examination?
First we will understand what actually happens at the time of performance
When we appear for any competitive exam, we take with us in the examination whole a baggage of emotions which includes anxiety, nervousness, fear and many more. The root emotion is fear, which gives rise to other emotions. It is due to these emotions that we end up losing our focus from examinations and tend to underperform. Having such kind of emotions is very normal and by no means am I asking you to get rid of such emotions. All we need to do is understand the root cause or the reasons for such emotions and we are ready to handle the situation. What kind of fears do we have while appearing for examination?
*The fear of not completing on time.
*The fear of not remembering the topic.
*The fear of not knowing what has been asked.
The root or the basic fear behind all of these is of “FAILING” or not achieving the expected outcome. Here, expected outcome or the “Result” is an event which is yet to happen; it is a future event, whereas when we are actually writing the examination it is the present moment. When we keep on thinking about the result we are continuously drifting our focus from the present moment to the future moment creating a hindrance in our performance in the present moment. So what we need to learn is to be in the present moment and not worry either about the future or get stressed about what has happened in the past. Here we welcome the concept of “Mindfulness”.
Secondly we understand how to deal with the situation
Mindfulness is the state of being present in the moment; aware of all the emotions, sensations, thoughts and feelings that we have. Experiencing each and every moment as if it is the first and the last time you are experiencing it. It is called living in the “NOW”. By practicing mindfulness we can free ourselves from the burdensome worries we create by dwelling in the past and future. Mindfulness can be practiced either through meditation or by inculcating the flavor of mindfulness in many other activities. Not all of us would be able to adopt the method of meditation on daily basis; therefore, I have mentioned a few activities through which you can train your mind to be in the moment.
Activity – 1: -Focus on Breathing
This activity can be done anywhere at any point of time. You do not need any extra thing to do this. Wherever you are, take a seat or even if you are standing, start by focusing on your breathing pattern. Feel the air going in and filling your abdomen and lungs and then being released. Just experience the energy flowing within and outside you. Carrying out this exercise for even 1-3 minutes a day will bring a drastic change in your mental stability.
Activity – 2:- Mindful Music
Try listening to new music. It can either be a new song or a song in a new language. Whenever your mind listens to something new which it has never heard before, it will give more attention. Listening to new songs or new languages will habituate your mind to focus on daily basis. Also when you are listening to same old songs, you can practice mindfulness by focusing on different parts of the song. For example if you have a habit of always focusing on the lyrics, this time try focusing on the music specifically. Even in music, try focusing on just the guitar playing throughout the whole song and it will be a whole new experience. Giving new experiences makes your mind prone to remaining in the present moment.
Activity – 3:-Mindful Observation
Mindful observation includes observation of self and surrounding.
At any point of time stop for a moment on whatever you are doing and observe the emotions, feelings and sensations within yourself. For example, if you are working late at the office, pause for a minute and acknowledge the mental stress, the physical pain and emotional imbalance you may be suffering due to late working. There is no mention about doing away with those emotions; you just have to acknowledge them. Most times we don’t acknowledge and accept our emotions, which create a lot of problems in our life at mental level.
Observation of surrounding
Whenever we go around travelling from office to home or to a garden or to a movie, or anywhere else, hardly we notice anything around us. We are so busy in the thoughts we have about what is going to happen next or what has already happened. So, next time you are moving around or travelling instead of being occupied with yourself, observe the people and things around you. You will realize that the beauty of world is way more interesting than the chattering of the mind.
Finally, you have a balanced life
On practicing this you will be able to create a habit to focus on what is going on in the present moment instead of wandering here and there. The breathing technique can be used even at the time of performance. Whenever you feel that the emotions are taking over you, just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 1-2 minutes and everything will be under your control.
The methods and activities have been personally implemented by me while appearing for CA Final examination and are not just any theoretical concepts. Hope this will be helpful to you. The activities mentioned are only a few. There are many more ways of inculcating mindfulness in one’s life.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org