Study skills

By Gregory Mitchell

By Gregory Mitchell - Copyright © 2003
Chapter 12 - Physical Learning
Thought is not necessarily distinct from physical activity. Thought need not be something going on in your head with no outward manifestation. You actually have two bodies: your physical body and a mental representation of the physical body called the kinesthetic body. Ideally your physical and kinesthetic bodies act in coordination. But sometimes the habit patterns installed in the kinesthetic body (in the motor region of the brain) have urges and impulses of their own that we have to over-ride. Thus clumsiness, lack of coordination and difficulty acquiring physical skills is easily explained. It’s like having one leg going one way and the other heading in a different direction. The secret is to get your physical and kinesthetic bodies working together, then you can quickly learn new physical skills and improve your performance of existing ones.

Integration Exercise
  1. Slowly raise your arms up into the air and then lower them again, paying close attention to all the sensations of muscle, bones and flesh that this movement involves. Do this several times.

  2. Keep your arms down at your sides but this time mentally raise your arms above your head and lower them again, and try to feel all the same sensations as you felt before. Do this action in your imagination, as vividly as you can, repeating it several times.

  3. Now raise your physical arms up into the air above your head; then as you lower your physical arms down to your sides simultaneously raise your mental arms above your head; and then raise your physical arms whilst lowering your mental arms. Continue this cycle of actions until you can perform it smoothly and realistically.

  4. Take a step to the right with your physical right leg and return, then do the same with your left leg, stepping to the left and returning. Then repeat with your mental legs , concentrating on getting the same sensations. Continue until you can clearly feel and differentiate your two bodies.

  5. Concentrate on feeling your two physical arms as they hand by your sides. Then try to feel your mental arms occupying the same place as your physical arms. And then try to simultaneously feel both your physical and mental arms at the same time.

  6. Raise your physical and mental arms simultaneously, being aware of both at the same time. Then lower them simultaneously, maintaining your focus on feeling them both together.

  7. Step to the left and return, making the same step with your mental legs as well. Then similarly step to the right. Continue until you can feel your mental legs as a separate set of sensations moving in coordination with your physical legs.

  8. Come to rest. Draw in both a physical and mental breath. Feel both equally. Have your physical and mental lungs breathe slowly and evenly in coordination, and enjoy the relaxation.

If you are studying a subject that describes a physical skill, it is effective learning to mime the actions. Miming or acting it out in this way will help your understanding and your memory, so when you actually come to do it, it will not seem unfamiliar. To help your mime, use your imaginative powers to put yourself in the situation you are miming - try to see yourself swimming, driving, fixing the car, etc.

At the same time as you mime the physical movements, make the same movements with your mental (kinesthetic) body. Visualize as clearly as you can what it would actually feel like - what sensations are there in your body? How will you move your hands and feet? What do your surroundings look like and what are you wearing? How is your breathing and tension? Are you scared or confident or in between?


1. Introduction
2. Barriers to Learning
3. Setting Objectives
4. Reading Techniques
5. Key Word Noting
6. More on Note-Taking
7. Associative Networks
8. Asking Questions & Listening
9. Thinking Clearly
10. Word Definitions
11. Defeating the Decay of Memories
12. Physical Learning
13. Sight, Sound, Action...
14. The Decision to Fail
15. What's Next?


Copyright © 2004 Gregory Mitchell - Published by Trans4mind

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