In this episode of our podcast, MyGuru founder Mark Skoskiewicz interviews John Hankey, a performance/life coach based in California. John Hankey helps students of all ages use mindfulness techniques to overcome their test or performance anxiety, which usually subsides within three to five sessions.
This is a slightly longer podcast than usual; it is packed with helpful information, and John even walks through a guided meditation for listeners. We highly recommend that you listen to the full episode on iTunes, but here are some of the highlights.
What is mindfulness? What is the difference between mindfulness, meditation, and hypnosis?
Mindfulness consists of any act of being present and aware of what is happening in your body and mind. It is an umbrella term that encompasses meditation, yoga, and some forms of hypnosis.
What are some of the benefits of mindfulness?
Over time, you can strengthen your ability to relax and become able to relax more deeply. This relaxation can have far-reaching benefits, including improving your circulation, boosting your physical health, clearing your mind, stabilizing your emotions, and connecting you to your intuition.
How does relaxation affect your ability to learn?
Often, when you are trying to remember important information, it is natural to tense your body or strain your mind, but this actually impedes your ability to recall information. In fact, a deeply relaxed state can enhance your ability to access memories in the moment. No matter your skill level, going into a standardized test relaxed instead of stressed will probably earn you more points.
It also helps to be relaxed when you are learning new information or studying for a test; this will help you absorb and retain the information better.
How can mindfulness be used to overcome test anxiety?
When John meets with a client, he usually spends the first 10 min getting that person into a state of deep relaxation with a technique called “progressive muscle relaxation,” which involves relaxing each part of your body one at a time.
Next, students imagine that they are taking the test, creating a very vivid mental image. Usually, for students who have test anxiety, visualizing a test scenario will cause their bodies to tense up. Because the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, these visualizations bring up all the same stresses, anxieties, and tensions that the students experience when they are actually in that situation. This allows them to access and address their typical test-taking behavior outside of an actual testing situation.
Finally, they are coached to relax until they are able to experience themselves taking a test while keeping their bodies totally relaxed.