The method described below leads to an increased ability to process information, memory improvement, thought clarity and increased overall confidence in one’s abilities. The results appear very quickly and are not limited to increased cognitive functions. Physical abilities – movement, flexibility and correction of improper moving patterns – also change, but the effect takes place after a change in the cognitive sphere.
In my case I started to develop photographic memory about day 27. All my life, just like most people, I was incapable of remembering numbers and peoples’ names. My ability to follow the conversation’s thread increased so much that during a discussion I was able not only to go back to the beginning of the subject, but also to go back to certain points, recall the fine nuances about them, and make a connection with what was discussed before and after that point. The method led me to interests in subjects that I always disliked as well as subjects that I never knew existed.
Since I had a long term experience in weightlifting and other sports and kinetic practices I started to notice clear and very defined changes in the way I move and in my ability to control and correct my movements – including movements that I had tried to learn for years.
The method is based on training in information processing WITHOUT leaving unclear areas and WITHOUT starting but not finishing. Simply put every day one needs to learn a topic following these rules:
1. The topic must become perfectly clear – you need to be able to “teach” it aloud.
2. The topic must be started and finished.
3. Never move forward without clarifying the current topic to a certain exhaustive level.
4. All elements that are more complicated are marked as such (“shelving” – as if putting a note on a book shelf to read a book pertaining to the topic at a later time)
5. The more complicated elements and areas that can not be clarified on the spot become the subject of the next lesson. The clarification needs to be at a proper level – WITHOUT getting lost in the details.
The “topic” can be:
A. An entire subject – for example Chemistry, or Mathematics, or “How does the computer work?”.
B. A very short “spark of order” which is a very small piece of information that you clarify on the spot to a sufficient level. You quickly clarify an unfamiliar term without getting into unnecessary details and immediately move on forward. “Sparks” are used to maintain the positive effects of applying the method described here. We live in a world of terms that we assume we understand but most of the time we do not. That creates an environment in which we get used to not be clear about most things.
::: Example: “RAM” – a term often used when talking about computers. Most people have heard the term but can not explain it beyond saying that it is “computer memory”. In a few seconds you can learn that RAM is the place where a computer temporarily places data that gets from the permanent storage – the Hard Drive (or USB drive, or Disk, etc). That temporary placement allows for quick access and processing of the data. Just like taking files out of your bag (Hard Drive) and placing them on your desk (RAM) so you can work on them. Much easier than working out of your bag! Here, you just experiences your first “spark of order”. Congratulations!
In both cases – subjects or “sparks” – the basic rule is to never leave unclear information clutter your environment. Both types of topics – a whole subject or a “spark of order” should be used at the same time but of course taking on an entire subject is the main focus.
So one starts with a simple lesson and because there is an on going process of discovering new or unclear points the exercise starts to grow on its own. That forms a structured effort to paint the big picture. When the topic starts to take its final form one starts to notice the changes in memory, focus, and overall feeling of internal order. That internal reorganization leads to reorganization of the physical ablities – increased flexibility and increased control over one’s muscles. These are literally internal and external changes.
The first results start between day 25 to day 30. But that depends on the effort. My personal changes happened around day 27, but I studied at leas 2 full hours every day – while working, driving, etc. I listened to the same lectures over and over making sure that rules 3-5 described were always accounted for.
The method is based in the ability of the nervous system (not just the brain) to reorganize. That means that its different parts can take on new functions. Most likely new connections are created – connections that either should have been functioning by default but have deteriorated, or connections take over functions of parts that have deteriorated too much. The method that I describe here is my own invention and there is no research to support it. But the results are very defined and very clear. We should note that we are not talking just about improved information processing and a better physical state right now. Logic dictates that in the long term exercising the nervous system should lead to its maintenance at a high functioning level – meaning that it should efficiently counteract the results of aging commonly accepted as inevitable. What I just said was that here I’m offering you a way to redirect your aging process to a better place. I do believe that to be possible. Do you?
Properly exercising the nervous system could be likened to a simple example – managing the detrimental effects of heavy physical labor. My primary occupation has been exactly that for many years – long hours in high temperature and high humidity conditions. At the same time I’ve done everything possible to counteract the negative effects of such a harmful lifestyle. One of the main ways to counteract the negative effects of heavy physical labor is using more physical load but applied in very specific and very different ways. So we could say that there are “proper” and “improper” physical activities. We can simplify and call them “harmful” and “beneficial”. Everybody understands that digging ditches (with all the associated heavy work, squatting, flexing and calorie expenditure) fall in the category of “harmful” physical exercise. But exercises like weightlifting in specific controlled ways or practicing Yoga are examples of “beneficial” physical exercises. Generally speaking there is a correct and incorrect way to do anything. That applies to the nervous system too. Its stimulation in a certain way determines how it reacts, adapts, and changes. So far nothing described is too complicated. We should be able to find “nervous system exercises” that are “beneficial”. The problem is that our own lifestyle and life choices push us in the wrong direction all the time. This happens very discretely and often we are not even given a choice (Simplest example – sick kid cries in pain all night and you lose a night of sleep then drive to work the next day). It has become normal to not consider the extent of the harmful effects of such a lifestyle on our own nervous system. And we take this even further – we never consider how the effects of improper discrete nervous system shaping affect our entire life. One example of such life-changing discrete and gradual negative effects is the 11 or so years of schooling – because of the habits created by an improper learning environment.
The method being described below in details is a perfect opposite of the habits learned in school plus 5 or more years of higher education (if we went through that too). Also it is important to note that everyday life is full of information and experiences that are rich in unclear areas and unfinished, open ended, thoughts and ideas. The nervous system learns from what we offer as an environment. We literally spend all our lives training our nervous system to “dig ditches”, to get exhausted and lost in the stream of information, and to learn that “it can’t and it does not want to process everything” because of a long list of practical excuses – responsibilities, finances, children, sickness, exhaustion, etc. The good news is that the process in not only reversible but also reversible at any age.
In more details the method conists of:
1. Choosing a subject or topic.
That does not have to be some big chunk of information. It could be a subject like “Physics” or a topic like “How does the car engine works.” My first experience was with the subject of “Chemistry”. I have a Chemical degree but I know very well that I’m missing a lot of basic information. So I started to listen to Chemistry lectures starting from the very basics – as if I knew absolutely nothing. The goal was to build up an ordered knowledge structure without any gaps and unclear areas. And the goal was to identify these gaps and to fill them.
The exercises require a very simple but traditionally extremely hard practice – to be completely honest to yourself. The result is a clear understanding how much you do not know. For me personally the Chemistry degree that I had was practically not backed up with anything – I had a very superficial understanding. But I was capable of being honest to myself and I started from the very bottom.
This is the time to note – I myself would not hire Nikolay, the Chemist. But I’d hire Nikolay if he can and if he wants to change. The goals of this method is exactly that – to teach you to change. With time the changes become easier and easier. In fact the main goal of the whole method is to learn to change naturally – that ability to become part of us.
2. Read or listen to a short lesson that described part of the whole subject or topic.
The lesson must have a logical beginning and ending. It can not be a single paragraph from an article for example.
In my case the lessons were short lectures of 7 to 15 minutes from Salman Khan’s YouTube Channel “Khan Academy”. It is very important to find quality lessons. Most internet lessons are very low quality but the upside is that you can hear differеnt viewpoints. The downside is that sifting through all the low quality lessons takes a lot of time and we could lose sight of the main subject.
3. Everything unclear is outlined and clarified in place if possible.
And everything unclear that requires too much time is marked for study later.
Only when these unclear areas are clarified we can go back to the part of the main subject or topic we are studying and go on with the effort ot complete the big picture.
In my case I listened to some of the lectures up to 15 times! And in addition – I constantly went back in short steps to clarify the last 1-2 sentences better. On average I listened to each lecture at least 10 times. That was done with the purpose to clarify all details tp the most needed and reasonable level. Unlike a teacher that plows throug a topic by saying “Any questions? No, ok we go on…”
So for the Chemistry lectures of Salman Khan I went through 86 lectures and each one was watched/listened 10 times – that means I went through 860 lectures! That sounds like too much work. But there are two big reasons to do that;
First – We should answer the question “How important is it for me to age properly?”.
Second – The learning process is extremely interesting IF done properly. What we remember from our school/university days has nothing to do with the ordered method described here. We all have leftover negative emotions from studying – exactly because it was done in an improper way.
This is the time to note – imagine your life, your mentality, your achievements if everything that I describe here was part of your childhood. And especially if it was part of your teenage years – when many kids (especially boys that have this tendency during these years) start to develop strong interests in a particular subject. Those kids that do not find such interest start to slide on a sloping surface. I personally think that such a thought experiment is both wonderful and sad. Wonderful because if you have kids you could try to educate them based on the rules of this method and give them something literally priceless. And the thought is sad because of the moments we, ourselves, have missed, the missed opportunities, the unnecessary stress – and all the subsequent long term and permanent (seemingly or not) emotional states.
4. Train to “teach” what is being learned.
The “teaching” must be aloud. Basically “presenting the topic” to an imaginary audience. The style of presentation must be simplified to the best of our abilities.
The goal is to deliver a “short and clear lecture” on the topic we’ve chosen. We should be able to present and clarify terms and definitions used in the material in a very easy to understand way.
The result of that “presentation” is that your ability to express yourself increases immensely. You start to express yourself much more orderly and not in a fashion that is too condensed and hard or impossible to follow. The final effect of such vocalization is extremely important – you will be able to express your ideas and feelings much better. As it is well known it is common to have issues based on the inability to express oneself. That means that one’s emotions do not get expressed fully or even at all – undoubtedly a very traumatic state of mind and being.
One of my degrees is in education. I’ve known that a good educator possesses not only a lot of knowledge but also has the ability to present that knowledge in an easy to follow and understand fashion. Many things come in to play here – the language, the intonation, the style of the presentation must keep the attention engaged while creating the feeling that the subject is actually manageable to grasp and understand. That is exactly what I was doing when “teaching aloud” while driving or doing something else – I’d rephrase my sentences over and over so they become simpler and clearer. That practice has another important goal – for you to find details that are unclear to you while trying to “present” a topic you thought you had a good understanding about. That technique definitely produces results and is an indelible part of the method described here.
5. To maintain a definite and clear feel of our progress in the overall subject or topic.
If we notice that we are lost in the material we must go back and find exactly were in the big picture we are.
That is an EXTREMELY important rule.
IN my case I was getting sick and tired to get lost in all kinds of information that I read or heard every day. Most of the information that reaches us every day is presented in an extremely harmful way – full of unclear bits, questions without answers, and definitely separated from the big picture. In the usual case we think we know at least something about the big picture but that is seldom the case. That is a very serious problem – we learn to live in a reality that is blurry, unclear, perpetually unfinished, without a beginning and with no end. That type of training of the nervous system starts literally the very minute we wake up in the morning, start to thing about the day, turn on the computer or the phone. One of the results of such a confusing lifestyle is the constant feeling of being tired. In contrast – one of the effects of the method described here is increased energy and ability to perform work – as mentioned in the beginning – both mental and physical.
6. We must have a clear feeling that we start and finish a small part of the whole picture.
That does not mean that we must clarify every single detail. It means that we must clarify things to a certain reasonable level. We must learn to identify what is it that we don’t know. In other words – we must know what we don’t know.
That “knowing how much we don’t know” is very important. It shows us were we are in our understanding of the topic. It shows us how much we are prone to follow the flow – literally it shows us if we are people that can be counted on to start and finish anything.
Try a simple test for yourself – at the end of the day start something that you can finish within a reasonable time frame and that you enjoy. After you are done you will see that the exhaustion of the long and confusing work day is less. That is a miniature example of recuperating the nervous system in a way that is different from the common relaxation practices used by most people at the end of the day.
I myself have had experiences of staying up literally all night doing something I enjoy and the results were actually better than a good all-night sleep. In one case I spent all night working on some photographs turning them into abstract works of art. At 6AM I finished, got up, had breakfast and went to work. The entire day was very productive despite the sleepless night before and despite the fact that my work required a lot of mental effort – focus and attention to detail (computer programming).
7. It is most practical to start with a subject or a topic that is familiar.
The purpose of choosing a familiar theme is to learn to be honest to ourselves, and to find and clarify the points that need clarification.
That technique is a preparation for a future progress – when we will choose topics that are either completely unfamiliar, or we associate them with something unpleasant (bad grades in school, frustration, unpleasant people/situations) or completely out of our sphere if interests. You could pick topics like “What is Quantum Physics?” or “how does a refrigerator work?” or “What are the fundamental principles of Buddhism?”. The point is to learn to take on a very diverse realm of topics or subjects but the reason for all that is deeper than the knowledge itself. The reason to learn to chose topics that we are neutral or opposed to is to learn to overcome our own stumbling blocks and walls we hae built in our minds.
For me personally one such unpleasant subject was Mathematics. I had bad experiences starting in 3-rd grade and “knew” I “could not get math”. But at age 47 I went through a self thought Math course following the rules described above. The feeling of liberation was amazing – I had made myself look into the very eyes of something and be able to understand and to love it! Amazing transformation! That Christmas I found myself laying in bed solving equations. That experience convinced me that it is exactly these “unpleasant” or “unknown” subject/topics that bring the most benefit to the nervous system.