Practicing

THE IMPORTANCE OF DRILLS

By Gregory Mitchell

Today, most students and indeed many teachers are unable to understand the importance of drills, i.e. structured repetitive practical exercises. Many in this present generation are motivated to get only that which can be obtained without effort: they are looking for a prepackaged off-the-shelf therapy: the Emotional Nirvana of the Single Solution.

I am informed by students that there are courses which can pin-point your problem in half an hour and give you enlightenment in a weekend. They ask me: Why are you still presenting courses that require hundreds of hours of drills?

Authentic mind therapies can and do make changes. The best of the recently invented therapies can increase your ability to remember, to know, and to change the things that you desire. But they do not, to any large extent, change your behavior, i.e. what you can do.

Such a therapy may change the tone of your voice and your emotional sensitivity, but it will not enable you to sing, unless you can do so already. These therapies remove emotional and mental blocks, but they do not produce the positive gains of practical ability.

To learn to sing, play an instrument or think with a trained mind, and do this with above average ability, requires hundreds of hours of practice, much of which is in the form of drills. This requirement for drills cannot be by-passed if the practical skill is desired.

Overlearning
Modern education neglects drills. Mostly it consists of something grasped in a stumbling sort of way. This becomes the foundation of the next thing to be learned, which is also often learned in the same stumbling sort of way. Drills, as such, form little or no part in modern education, outside of music, sports and the military: the concept of overlearning has been all but lost.

In the army, a lot of time is spent taking your gun to pieces and putting it back together again and similar types of activity. This is an example of overlearning. Likewise, in singing there is practice, practice, practice. When a behavior or skill is overlearned in this way, it tends to become automatic: it cannot be easily disrupted under stressful situations. The gunner will be able to repair his gun under the stress of battle and the singer will not be put off her stroke by anything that happens in the audience.

The human mind consists of layers of behavioral programs (a special kind of habit), all of which have been overlearned until they are automatic. Cognitive development requires the addition of new layers of programming and programs of greater effectiveness. These programs must be overlearned, if they are to become automatic, and the vehicles for doing this are called 'drills.'

Psychological blocks
A mental block is a counter-intention to the activity of the mental process being blocked. Removal of a mental block or more accurately, facilitating an individual to let go of a mental block, can have sudden and dramatic results. A person is lightened, as if a large burden has been taken away. He/she can confront a task with enthusiasm and courage, rather than the negative emotions of fear, anger or grief.

A release of emotion may occur, and there may be an insight as to how the mental block got there in the first place; yet in many cases, behavior remains unchanged and performance, in relation to a skill, changes but very little. The simple answer is, that the dimension of behavior has been left unaddressed.

Results of releasing a block
Through psychotherapy or self-help personal development, an individual may have been released from a communication block, e.g. a fear of speaking in public. At the end of the therapy session, the room will look brighter and the individual will feel good about the idea of speaking in public. At the moment of release, the conscious mind will have become unhindered by the counter-intention of the unconscious mind, and the original fixed idea or decision, which gave the mental block force and life will have come to light.

However, whether or not the above individual continues therapy and handles the next mental block on the list, there will be little change of a permanent nature. If change is to be permanent, the individual must change his/her behavior in the world outside the therapy room, in order to adjust or add to the behavioral programs, that are embedded in the structure of the brain. This process demands repeated practical application of the newly learned pattern of behavior.

Part of the force of the unconscious mind comes from habit patterns, recorded at the level of brain, and these habits, for the most part, are derived from and reenforced by a person's typical lifestyle, i.e. the way in which he/she confronts and handles the problems and challenges of life.

Within days to weeks, the mental block released in therapy will start to re-assert itself. Habitual ways or being and doing in the world will act as a form of autohypnosis and before long, the individual will be right back where he/she started form.

Argument for drills
In the example above, in which a communication block was released, were he/she to take some time out from therapy and exercise this new freedom - give some talks or lectures or join an amateur dramatics group - a new set of habits, a new way of being and doing, would be established. The old habit would be disengaged, or set aside: the mental block would not re-assert itself. Then and only then, would be the time to handle the next mental block on the list. Here then, is the argument for drills. Personal development consists of 5% cognitive insight and 90% drills and exercises to establish new skills and patterns of behavior.

Humanistic psychotherapy works from the premise that mental flows of energy, particularly emotional energy, are blocked, as the result of traumatic injuries of the psyche, usually in early childhood. Cognitive psychology, e.g. rational-emotive therapy, starts from the following premise: we do not suffer from the shock of our experiences but instead, we make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not determined by our experiences, but we are self-determined by the meaning we give to them.

Both approaches, in therapy, are partially correct. Even a planarium worm can be traumatized. I doubt that a worm has the power to conceptualize and add meaning to traumatic experience. However, higher animals, especially humans, do add a further cognitive dimension and they do this either for better, or for worse.

The facts of the matter
The true situation is more complex than allowed for in either the Humanistic or the Cognitive psychologist's model. Unless a problem is addressed emotionally, cognitively and also at the level of behavior, there will only be a partial resolution of a problem, at best. Although the humanistic-emotional aspect may contain elements of classical conditioning (a part of brain function), both the humanistic and cognitive aspects are, by-and-large, aspects of mind. Mind consists of viewpoints, beliefs, ideas, memories, decisions and goals. Mindstuff is not the same as material stuff. If the correct fixed idea or wrong goal is discovered, or the correct memory of a traumatic event is brought back into consciousness, the mental block being worked on will usually fall away.

Changing behavior or improving the performance of a skill is another matter. When we are working on the dimension of behavior, we are working at the level of embedded brain circuits. Old habits have to be extinguished and new habits, more effective habits, have to be learned. New habits require new connections in the brain and this requires work in the forms of exercises and drills. These drills rely on the principle of overlearning for their force.

Overlearning described
A drill or an exercise is first learned until it can be demonstrated, then practice continues, i.e. the drill or exercise is overlearned until the new skill or behavior displaces the old. The new skill or behavior is practiced until it is assimilated. Once assimilated, it cannot then be distinguished from our first nature and the new behavior or skill operates automatically in the appropriate situation. A new skill or behavior may be said to be fully assimilated when it can be demonstrated effortlessly, i.e. it can be demonstrated without resistance or reactive emotional stimulation.

The purely mental dimension that may appear to produce sudden results is directed towards getting an individual to change their mind. Once a person has let go of a fixed viewpoint, he has changed his mind, and if that viewpoint had been obstructing him, the mental block would dissolve away. It can happen suddenly, because all the person has to do is change his/her mind, and do so in the correct kind of way. That is all there is to work at a cognitive level: a change of mind.

Working on the cognitive level will handle attitudes, emotions and unwanted sensations and pains, it can improve certain types of memory, particularly long-term memory of personal experience. Forgotten skills and languages can be recovered, but these are rapidly lost unless an educational stage is applied, as soon as possible, after the release. Much behavior will be left unchanged, as behavior is given force by habit. With the exception of reading speed, the performance of the individual's current repertoire of skills may change hardly at all. These are the limitations of all therapies which work at the level of mind and ignore the dimension of behavior. Unless the dimension of behavior is addressed, personal gain will only be subjective.

Working at the cognitive level of mind tends to change what we are able to know, whereas working at the behavioral level of brain, tends to change what we can do.

Change of context
It is easy to demonstrate that we know more than we are aware of knowing. What is apparently unknown to a subject can, under appropriate circumstances, be brought back to consciousness. One of the commonest examples is hypnosis. An adult may be asked what he received for his twelfth birthday and be unable to answer, but under hypnosis this data may be easily retrieved: the use of hypnosis has caused a change of context.

A change of mood is a change of context. In one context a person will remember differently to another. Many of the methods that are used at the level of mind are methods to create a change of context. To change context without addressing the dimension of behavior will increase the size of a person's mind without increasing the power. A person will have a better long-term memory, thus greater access to his/her database, without the concomitant increase in powers of reasoning and understanding

Brain, servant of mind
The brain is the servant of the mind. Pathology has shown cases where an individual has lost a cognitive ability through disease or trauma; the person has then regained the ability by training other parts of the brain to take over this function. This fact is important. The mind can influence the brain, and the brain is only a tool of the mind - its most important tool, but only a tool nevertheless. We can improve the tool and enhance the cognitive functions.

By and large, therapies operating at the level of thought produce effects at that level. To produce change at the level of brain (behavior and performance change) requires appropriate exercises and drills, and the amount of change is directly proportional to the frequency, duration and intensity with which these drills are applied. Use a less militaristic term if you like, such as 'practical exercises,' but these tasks cannot be by-passed if the desired behavioral change is to be achieved.

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MIND DEVELOPMENT COURSES 1-8
Study skills
Super Student - Mind Development Course 1

Many people have bad experiences at school and perhaps later in life, when attempting to study a new subject. It is easy to quickly get bogged down with new terminology, and often, new concepts and procedures seem unclear. This situation can quickly get out of hand as the student gets left behind and the subject either becomes an ongoing struggle or it is abandoned. But none of that is necessary; it is possible to succeed with the study of any subject.

With this course you will learn how to study a subject with maximum comprehension, with excellent recall, and with the ability to apply what you have learned effectively.

You will also learn how to take notes at rapid pace from books or live lectures, and how best to represent that information with key words, mind maps and flow charts that aid memory and understanding.

These abilities will be useful for your home studies, at college or work, and for your study of further Mind Development courses. You will indeed be able to succeed at studying effectively those subjects you are interested in, even those that were difficult before. The course is available freely online...

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Perception
Super Vision - Mind Development Course 2
The first course in the Mind Development system is "Super Vision," a home-study course to improve the mind's capacity for visualization and integration between left and right brain, boosting memory, creativity, natural eyesight and drawing ability. This is a new way of seeing - and being.

The practical exercises offered in this course help to develop visual perception, which is one branch of non-verbal communication, and address the subject of breathing and relaxation. Adequate oxygenation of the brain and a relaxed state of being is necessary for further developing the mind.

The eyes and the ears are the main channels through which one gains information about the world. As with listening skills, training in visualization and looking makes you more aware. When you are more aware, the subconscious mind has less influence. This means you are more relaxed, less anxious, less easily upset, a better memorizer - and your vision is improved.

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Communication
Effective Communication - Mind Development Course 3
This course teaches powerful communication skills that enable you to be more effective at work and in those situations of everyday life where better communication can make all the difference.

The Effective Communication course offers a series of practical exercises which develop the skills of communication and help the student to apply the fruits of his or her learning here and now - both to his or her personal growth and to the practical issues of personal relationships and business.

Improvement in our ability to communicate externally is reflected by a similar gain in communication between parts of the brain. The practice exercises enable development of all areas of the brain, even those which have been long under-used. They affect, particularly, the integration of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Each hemisphere governs a different way of thinking and seeing the world. By doing the exercises thoroughly, the student can bring both halves of the brain into mutual communication, so that he or she is freer to think holistically and experience the world from an expanded point of view.

Communication is the vehicle for all further techniques, so communications skills are a vital aspect of Mind Development. The Effective Communication course includes practical exercises to enhance the person's capacity to listen attentively and comprehend. Following that, questioning skills are practiced, which have relevance to communication, memory and understanding. This will help the student to maintain control of communication in practical, social and business situations. You will also learn about practical problem solving and how to achieve your goals in life.

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Concentration
Educating the Will - Mind Development Course 4
This course teaches the skills of concentration as a means of educating the will. Often, when we put our mind on something, we think of something else and this, in turn, reminds us of something else. The mind wanders from one thing to another by associations, until the original thing is forgotten. 'Concentration' means putting all one's attention on something, and keeping it there for as long as one wishes to. So if you concentrate on a book, you are aware of the book and you are not thinking, looking or listening to anything else. If you are concentrating you are awake and aware. In much of everyday life, most people are effectively day-dreaming - at worst they are sleep-walking automatons. Their minds flip mechanically from one thing to another, never resting on anything for very long or intentionally. This process may go on for the whole of their lives and they never learn or achieve anything of consequence.

Unless we can wake ourselves up from this mechanicalness and sleep, we cannot begin work on ourselves and we cannot get things done in life. We must learn the mood of concentration - of actually BEING in the Here-and-Now, noticing and observing, and focused on our actions.

Concentration is a means to develop the will, so that life may be lived purposely and creatively, rather than as a reaction to the flow of sensations. Because you will not flit from one thing to another, like a butterfly, you will be able to choose to focus your mind on things, e.g., study or work, and will increase your skills and knowledge in these areas. Most importantly, you will be able to focus more clearly on your vision of what you want to achieve.

In short, your mental life is both intensified and broadened. The ability to concentrate is, therefore, a valuable skill which will enhance all other skills. Almost all the drills and exercises of Mind Development help develop your ability to concentrate. But are there are ways to improve your concentration directly? Yes, and this course teaches the best of them.

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Reading skills
Power Reading - Mind Development Course 5
This home study course can double your reading speed and supercharge your brain's capacity to digest, remember and implement huge amounts of information... essential ingredients to success in your professional and personal life.

We all learn to read at school, after a fashion. But for most of us, this is not an optimal use of our brain power. In this course you will learn to better use the left brain's focused attention combined with the right brain's peripheral attention, in close harmony. Good communication between the brain hemispheres is a prerequisite for creative thinking and also a sense of well-being, where thoughts and feelings are integrated.

Reading may be defined as an individual's total inter-relationship with symbolic information. Reading is a communication process requiring a series of skills. As such reading is a thinking process rather than an exercise in eye movements. Effective reading requires a logical sequence of thought patterns, and these patterns require practice to set them into the mind. The methods currently used in schools do not touch on the issues of speed, comprehension and critical analysis and indeed all those skills which can be described as advanced reading techniques. In short, most of your reading problems have not been dealt with during your initial education. By using appropriate techniques, the limitations of early education can be overcome and reading ability improved by 500% or more.

The course teaches in-depth reading techniques that greatly improve literary intelligence, so that you can clearly perceive the ideas and values that the writer is expressing and relate them to those of other authors and so be better able to make objective conclusions.

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Memory skills
Creative Memory - Mind Development Course 6
In most civilized societies the development of language centers in the left hemisphere of the brain will produce dominance on that side, while spatial, visual and intuitive problem-solving skills, which are based on right-hemisphere relational processes, will be underdeveloped.

Though a highly developed memory and intuitive skills are not essential for life in modern society, they were important survival skills for primitive man who had no reference books to look up when he forgot something, no maps to guide him on long journeys, and was often in perilous situations where intuitive insight made the difference between life and death. To further evolve, we need to reclaim this heritage, which depends on the restoration and integration of our right-brain processes.

Without memory there is no knowledge, without knowledge there is no certainty and without certainty there is no will. We need a good memory to be able to orient ourselves in a rich network of all that we know and understand, to make sense of it and to move forward to attain goals that are based in reality and true to our selves.

You will learn advanced memory techniques in the Creative Memory Course that utilize the amazing powers of the right brain, which enable you to "file away" any new piece of information so that it is readily accessible for future immediate access.

As you continue to use the methods of cumulative perception taught in this course, this kind of random access memory begins to become second nature. Many memory experts call this the "soft breakthrough" because it happens almost imperceptibly at first, instead of hitting you like a mental bolt of lightning. Everything you find important is given its own unique mental file. Just like the executive whose desk has been buried in paper for years, who suddenly discovers his computer can do a much better job of storing and arranging information, a filed, organized mind suddenly begins to perform impressive recall tasks on demand.

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Sprinting
Zen & the Art of Sprinting - Mind Development Course 7
This course by Gregory Mitchell is on the periphery of Mind Development but nonetheless illustrates how closely mind and body function in co-ordination.

Using these techniques Gregory was able to run 100 meters in a time that nearly matched the then British champion, with relatively little physical fitness preparation (60% or less compared with a typical athlete). You may not personally want to increase your sprinting speed, but the principles described here have many applications both for physical and mental development.

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No-Mind
Zen & the Art of Calculation - Mind Development Course 8
The Goal of Zen is the state of 'No-Mind'. This is an intuitive way of dealing with the world. The aim of this course is to enable a student to turn on a particular form of 'No-Mind' consciousness that can be applied to a practical task - that of arithmetical calculation. Habitual responses are set up which are the inverse of linearity. Several parts of the calculation have to be handled simultaneously; the result will be obtained about five times as fast, so it appears to be instantaneous.

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