I'll bring out the genius in you: In a major new series, PAUL McKENNA shares his formula for super-charging your memory and boosting your intelligence
Brain boosters: Over the next four days, Paul McKenna will be sharing his techniques to increase your intelligence, improve concentration and enhance memory
You ARE about to become smarter! Over the next four days I shall be sharing techniques which will allow you to use far more of your mind’s potential than you do at the moment.
These techniques will increase your intelligence, supercharge your memory, improve your concentration, allow you to access your creative genius and make smarter decisions in all areas of your life.
You will find learning easier, more relaxed and more enjoyable than you’ve ever dreamed possible. And when you put your knowledge to the test, you will do so with greater confidence and success than ever before. The individual elements of my system have been tested over many years, with tens of thousands of people, and are based on cutting-edge scientific research into the brain.
Quite simply, if you want to become smarter, follow my instructions and practise the techniques — I’ll take care of the rest.
LEARN TO USE THE WHOLE OF YOUR MIND
In the West, we talk about the mind as though it were divided into two parts: the conscious mind and the unconscious or subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the mind we actively think with and it can only concentrate on a small handful of ideas at any one time.
The unconscious mind is the larger mind. It’s the sum total of all our thoughts, our wisdom, creativity and memories; it’s made up of all those parts of ourselves of which we are unaware at any given time. It processes millions of pieces of information every single moment, and is the most powerful bio-computer on the planet.
The human brain is divided into the left brain, which deals predominantly with logic, linear and sequential thinking, and the right brain, which deals with associations, abstract ideas, creativity, symbolism and emotions.
We are predominantly a left-brain dominated culture — we put a big emphasis upon logic, sequence and our ability to speak intelligently about things.
But to operate functionally as human beings, we need to make use of both. In fact, many scientists now believe that true intelligence is not a measure of left or right brain dominance but of the degree of interplay between the two hemispheres.
So if you want to become smarter, the key is to learn to use the whole of your mind and the whole of your brain more of the time.
INCREASE YOUR INTELLIGENCE IMMEDIATELY
The first step is to connect your conscious and unconscious mind and the following technique was originally developed by Dr Win Wenger, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of intelligence and creative problem solving.
Regular practice of this one exercise has been shown to permanently increase measurable intelligence by as much as 40 points.
It works by tapping into two of your mind’s natural abilities — description and daydreaming. Description is a primarily conscious, left brain activity — it imposes structure and order on our experience by sequencing things in a way which can be written or spoken aloud.
Daydreaming, on the other hand, is a primarily unconscious, right brain activity — we allow our minds to wander through a series of seemingly random images and mental movies.
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Increasing your intelligence: You can actively build neural pathways between the left and right sides of your brain by describing your daydreams out loud, a process called 'image streaming'
1. Close your eyes and become aware of the stream of seemingly random images running through your brain.
2. Begin describing out loud what you are seeing, no matter how vague it may be. The simple guideline is to say what you see!
‘I see black, but now a beach begins to appear. I can feel the warmth of the sand between my toes and see the black water lapping against the shore. There’s a boat with a man with a handlebar moustache — now the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album appears, and I begin to hear the opening music from the album.’
PROGRAMME YOUR BRAIN FOR SUCCESS
Once you have mastered image streaming, you need to look at the barriers to learning that you, or others, may have created.
Scientists have done experiments which demonstrate that your mindset — that is, your attitude and approach towards learning — is one of the critical factors in how long you stick with something and how well you learn it.
In one experiment, children who received identical grades in an exam were divided into two groups.
The first group was praised for their intelligence: ‘Wow — eight out of ten — you’re so smart!’
The second group was praised for their application: ‘Wow — eight out of ten — you must have worked really hard!’
To the researchers’ amazement, the children who were told they had done well because they were smart (‘fixed mindset’) became reluctant to take on further, more advanced tests and even lied about their scores when asked to tell other people how they had done.
In contrast, the children who believed their high scores were the result of their own efforts (‘growth mindset’) were eager to take on the more advanced work and to be told the truth about their results.
The first thing we learn from this is that mindset may be even more important than innate ability in determining our results.
The second is to become more aware of any areas in school or in life where we may have got ourselves stuck in a fixed mindset. This will often reveal itself in statements such as:
■ ‘I’m just no good at maths.’
■ ‘I’ll never be smart like them.’
Unfortunately, as we grew up, our parents, friends and teachers filled us with ideas such as these that had the effect of a hypnotic suggestion.
Hypnotic suggestions go directly into the unconscious mind and are accepted as fact without going through a conscious filtering process.
So let’s learn a simple technique that will teach you to move beyond past limitations and programme your subconscious to access your potential, opening up the possibility of creative and academic success.
SEE YOURSELF SMARTER
1. Take three slow and gentle breaths. Allow your body to relax and feel good.
2. Now, imagine what you would look like if you were just a little bit smarter than you are right now. How would you sit What kind of expression would you have on your face How would that smarter version of you appear to the rest of the world How would they smile and interact with other people
3. Step into that smarter you so that you’re seeing what they see, hearing what they hear and feeling the way that they feel.
4. Next, imagine an even smarter version of yourself. How do they sit What kind of expression do they have on their face How does that even smarter you appear to the world How do they smile and interact with other people
5. Once again step into that smarter you until you see what they see, hear what they hear and feel the way they feel.
Repeat as many times as you like, allowing yourself to imagine a smarter and smarter you each time
This encourages the positive mindset you need to access so that you optimise performance each time you perform a task.
New book: All the tips here are extracted from I Can Make You Smarter by Paul McKenna, to be published by Bantam on Thursday at 10.99
Some psychologists call this optimal state ‘flow’ — you may have heard athletes refer to it as ‘being in the zone’. When you are in the flow of things, you naturally make ‘all the right moves’. It’s not too hard, but it’s not too easy, either.
Because the nervous system can’t tell the difference between a real and vividly imagined experience, if you can vividly remember times where you’ve been totally absorbed in something you are learning, you will begin to re-enter that state.
Now, if each time we return to that state we squeeze our thumb and finger together, we quickly create a new association between our natural learning state and the squeeze of our thumb and our finger.
Quickly, the association will be made to the point that we can reverse the process. Any time you want to re-enter your natural learning state, you can squeeze your thumb and finger together and enter the ‘learning zone’.
Practise the following technique:
REDISCOVER YOUR NATURAL LEARNING STATE
1. Think of something that you find genuinely fascinating. It might be music, art, swimming, motor-cycles — anything that grabs your attention and captures your imagination.
2. When you have chosen, think of a time when you were engrossed in learning about it. Return to that time in your imagination now, seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, and feeling how good you felt.
3. Now, as you continue to enjoy exploring this memory, make the colours rich and bright and bold, make the sounds loud and clear and the feelings strong. Do this until you have fully increased the feelings of fascination, absorption and enjoyment.
4. At the height of these feelings, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together on your right hand and create an associational link between the two. Continue to go through the memory in your mind as you do.
5. When you’re ready, squeeze the thumb and middle finger or your right hand together. Can you feel that feeling of absorbed fascination beginning to come back into your mind and body If so, know that each time you repeat this exercise you will strengthen this anchor.
If not, simply take a longer break to clear your mind and then return to this exercise whenever you are feeling ready.
BREAK DOWN YOUR INHIBITIONS
If you feel fear or frustration whenever you think about something you want to learn more about, it’s a sure sign that you have a learning block — something that is inhibiting your ability to smoothly take in information because the uncomfortable emotion is getting mixed in with the subject itself.
These blocks serve as ‘proof’ that we’re not smart enough to do or to achieve what we really want to. It’s a bit like driving with your foot on the accelerator but then suddenly slamming on the brake at random intervals.