Plan? What plan?

I love it when new learnings lend themselves to practical issues. (Note the nominalisation, a concept my spell check still struggles with).

Complex therapy took place today.

Not the event itself, rather the immense internal barriers to a meaningful reframe. So with new found skills in hand, a neat segway into gestalt flowed seamlessly into words being spoken and forgiveness being freely offered and accepted.

It was really interesting to watch the therapy unfold as it followed apparently carefully planned off-the-cuff statements linking directly into the brains unconscious algorithms. When the time for resolution, the barriers simply had no option but to collapse and allow the reframe in.

Sunshine and light.
Calm where there used to be broken chaos and hate.

I love it when a plan comes together.

And it wasn’t even my plan?

pain relief mp3

Somewhat Zen
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

A Waste of Learning Space?

One of the most common issues I come across whilst coaching professionals in enhanced Learning Skills is a tendency to create copious volumes of notes. As a learning technique, it’s counter-productive and quickly overloads the brain.

There is another way.

Voluminous note-taking is a technique I often used before I learned how the human brain receives, stores and recalls information. Like many others, I would make detailed notes, brighten them up with judicious use of highlighter pens, realise that there was still too much information to learn and proceed to make notes of my notes. I think I expected the act of writing and rewriting to embed the knowledge for me.

In the end my brain would jump up and down and protest, insisting it was an impossible task and why can’t we take a break and go for a coffee.

It seems that there are two common drivers for this route to tortuous revision;

  • We’re taught at school that using too much paper is wasteful (and these days leads to global warming). We’re encouraged to leave as little white space as possible – it’s a visual representation that we have to ‘cram the knowledge in for exams’.
  • A more elusive driver is the fear that if it isn’t in our notes, we’ll miss that one vital piece of information which makes the difference between a Pass and a Fail. If it’s in the book, it has to be in the notes.

Paradoxically, our brain is beautifully designed to collect, store and retrieve information. We do it all day, every day. Our children are experts at it. Our brain loves learning so much that whilst we remain uninhibited by adulthood, we even call it play!

You see context is everything. We can remember pretty much unlimited amounts of information if that information has context and connections. The trouble is if we try to store more than 7 bits of information in one go, we hit overload. There are simply too many connections for us to hold in one place.

But we can store as many of these sets of 7 as we care to. If we create notes that contain only 7 pieces of information then each of those 7 can connect to 7 more, over and over again. In fact in only four layers of 7, you can effectively store over two thousand pieces of connected information in a way that your brain will be perfectly comfortable with. If you tried to cram that all into one long set of revision notes, you’d hit overload pretty damn quickly.

So if you want to create usable notes for effective learning, leave loads of white space and only have 7 key pieces of information on each page. You’ll use far more pieces of paper; but surely it’s more of a waste to write notes you’ll never learn than to write notes you’ll remember forever?

Like most core strategies, this is a simple concept but old habits can be hard to break, so if you’d like some help, get in touch. Enhanced Learning Skills are only a couple of clicks away…

Related:

Tony Burkinshaw Learning & Memory Coach: LinkedIn Profile

Tony Burkinshaw Learning & Memory Coach: Website

Study Skills

Effective connections

Be mindful of what you know.

Progress can be frustrating.

Not in an anti-technological tirade of how humanity is losing touch kind of way, although there’s some merit in that sentiment, more that the progress I know will have been made at some point in the not too distant future has not yet been made by this moment, now. There’s a lot to be said for mindfulness and let’s face it, I’ve said some of and will shortly be saying even more if you get the October issue of Only Peterborough but when you know something ought to be happening but has yet to come to fruition, I think it’s fair to say that progress is, well, frustrating.

A case in point. Learning to learn, that middle road of enlightenment in my journey, is being well received verbally but hasn’t gained traction. Yet. I absolutely know that it will. Without question. It is such a vital aspect of today’s education and qualification system that is missing perhaps because so many of tomorrow’s adults are being taught by so few of yesterday’s children, overseen and over-tasked by the politically inspired so that it is all but impossible to teach any of them how to learn.

After all if Albert of E=MC2 fame defined education as ‘…what is left when one has forgotten all one was taught at school’ then this is hardly a new phenomenon.

We’re all led to believe that proving we know what we know is vital to our progress so that we never really see the end of that road filled with yet another qualification. Fortunately in the UK there is a small move towards accommodating the fact that we learn differently because there’s been a mini return to apprenticeships, catering much better for those who’s preferred style of learning is intensely practical. People who need to move, touch, feel, manipulate and, yes, hit it hard with a hammer in order to learn. People who do things; real things; who make things, repair things. Vital work but insufficiently recognised as vital because it lacks the more highly prized academic badge.

Even here though, there is a need for written proof.Study days. College attendance. Exams and course work. I find myself believing that this is more of a political employment statistics manoeuvre than an understanding of the learning environment. Maybe I’m just a cynic.

Whatever you found you could deal with last time around educationally speaking, there is, somewhere in your future, yet another exam. More study. Usually at a time when you’re trying to hold down and progress a career and have far less time to devote to learning.

In a pressure situation we tend to revert to type. So unless you’ve been lucky and found a new route through the quagmire, you do what you’ve always done. Just harder and for longer and with less free time to give it. In essence, we all study and learn using the techniques we picked up to do homework and tests when we were in our early teens. Often these were learned by accident or if by design, by the design of someone we trusted. We learned to learn the way that our parents or favourite teacher had themselves learned to learned.

We find ourselves sailing in wrong direction, putting up more sails and fighting the wind because we think it will get us there quicker. Instead we drown in the storm of things we can’t remember and don’t understand.

For many this is enough to get by. For a few, it is exactly right for them, the born sailors so to speak. For a significant minority it hardly works at all and they disengage with education, believing that in some way it is their inadequacy. Not a bit of it. The system, entirely because it is a system, let them down. It simply doesn’t have the capacity in its current form to deal with individual learning needs at that level.

It could do. Absolutely it could do. All it needs to do is to recognise the benefit of teaching individuals how they themselves like to learn. Coach them in developing that skill and how to apply this new-found skill to anything they wanted to learn. Anything.

The educators themselves would require a pretty good heads up on what’s going on too. Recall that age-old cry of teachers? ‘Stop looking out of the window! The answer’s not out there!’ Well for some particularly visual learners, that’s exactly where the answer is. Not in reality but in their internal visual recall field. Actually looking in that direction might be exactly where they need to look to allow their memory to ‘see’ the information they are trying to recall. Forcing them to ‘not look’ is the same as asking what’s on page 43 of a book you haven’t got. You’ve effectively blinded their ability to recall.

If the teacher/trainer knew what they were doing, they’d move that student so that his or her visual recall field was at the front of the room. That way, the answers are somehow ‘there’ even as they were asked the question. The student finds themselves already ‘looking’ at the answer whilst still being asked the question. Imagine the confidence that would build. Instead of embarrassment and failure.

This skill, or lack of it gets carried through into adult life where the insistence on written proof continues. Qualifications abound. I sit here at the age of 53, difficult thought it is to believe and my alter ego, the Chartered Financial Advisor is heading off over the next three weeks to train a variety of already qualified Financial chaps (a multi-gender term these days) to even greater levels of prowess helping them achieve the ‘coveted’ Chartered status themselves.

Consider how much time it would save if for the next exam you had to take you could study and revise in a way that, whilst not effortless, would really engage you. Demonstrate results quickly. Prove to you which parts you already knew and which you needed to revise a little more. Focus your attention. In a style such that once you had learned, you would remember. Even after the exam itself was passed long ago (pun intended), you would still remember the information.

Imagine how much less stressful it would be to know that you would learn and recall over 80% of everything you would need to know for your exam. Especially since most exams which rely on recall, that unprompted recollection and application required of the written answer, have pass marks around 55%-65%. Those which rely on recognition, multi-choice to you and me, have much higher pass marks but if you have 80% unprompted recall, your ability to recognise and choose from four or more options is vastly greater. In essence, you are being asked to recognise the right answer, not recall the right answer. Multi-choice is, quite frankly, simple when you know that you know. When you revise for recall, recognition is a walk in the park.

It’s much easier to dedicate time to something when there are tangible results you can see and it just screams out to you that you really have learnt it. (Did you see what I did there? Hands up if it made sense and it sounds as though I’ve got it all covered? (Heard it all before? I did it again… and so on in infinite loop…so I’ll cease and desist before it crumbles)). Apologies if that didn’t make sense. It will once you’re in the know.

So there’s a need for learning-to-learn at every level. In every walk of life. At every age.

I find it frustrating that educators and training departments aren’t biting my hand off. The sales training of my relative youth tells me that there’s more to it than this but I lack marketing experience and drive. Whilst teaching people how they learn is important to me,  I’m not about to try to lead the UK education and qualification system out of the darkness and into the light. I’m more interested in creating change one person at a time. Which is slow to gain traction. Frustrating.

However, I do know that this will work. The future is out there, waiting.

Despite my current work with mindfulness, appreciating the reality of the moment, I find that I am brought up short wondering why that Future doesn’t get off its arse and do something. Now.

 

Learning coach, and Mindfulness

Where to next?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Related

Only Peterborough Magazine

Hypnotherapy mp3 tracks

 

A year ago today, apparently

It seems like only a year ago, which is indeed the case, that I started my first ever blog. As it happens it’s still my only blog although that may change in the not too distant.

I was reminded that I am only one year old by traditional WordPress auto-post, as follows

Happy Anniversary!

You registered on WordPress.com 1 year ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

I’m pretty certain that they haven’t actually checked the content of the blog so I’m not particularly flattered by the ‘good’ but it was nice to be reminded, although I may now have to placate the ghost of witchfinders past as per early postings.

What does seem particularly time-distorted is the fact that when this blog began, I wasn’t even half way through my discoveries and had no idea how my writing a blog would be received so I guess this would be a good place to reveal those successes;

11,171 Views

636 Comments

91 Countries

1471 Followers (974 WordPress, 267 Facebook, 226, Twitter)

These are the figures that persuade me maybe you guys like what I write. I’m really pleased and glad that those writing dreams weren’t, to keep it thematic, pure fiction.

Thank you, all of you.

Meanwhile, back to the usual discourse. It’s been an odd week of deliberate and unintended therapy, encouraging a small and frightened 4 year old somewhere from the depths of my past that all is now well and that growing up could well be the order of the day and then on to a little local networking with Sue, (international image consultant), about whom I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I guess I was thinking colour charts and drapes but in fact was quite stunned by the quality of therapeutic process in what she was doing. Think Gok Wan without the compulsory naked catwalk and you’re more on the lines of what she does. I’d never really considered that image consulting could be therapy.

If you’ve ever met me you’ll probably realise that this wasn’t my own image I was consulting, just an opportunity to meet and chat with someone in a vaguely allied field who lives just over a mile down the road from me.

Even though we were just chatting over coffee, she’s quite inspiring particulalry if you’re trying to encourage the inner you to rapid maturity. In a fairly self-deprecating way, this lady is working with people and companies from all over the UK and Europe, delivering talks and seminars worldwide and looking for opportunities to enhance what she does. And she’s good company. I have a feeling that her words are gently working their way through my unconscious and clicking into place.

Compared to her I feel as though I sounded less than enthusiastic about my own relatively meagre efforts but maybe that’s just the part of me that recent deliberate therapy is growing up from, if you see what I mean.

I have a feeling that my business is currently undergoing a lull, party due to the summer holidays and partly as I reassess the compass heading I’m following.

My mp3 downloads are doing quite well in terms of the feedback I receive about their effectiveness although the number of visitors to to actually buy them has reduced. Website visitors in general are up but conversion to appointments isn’t as high as I’d like, so my daughter and I redesigned some of the wordings to try out new approaches. I think it’ll make a difference and should be live later this week. I reckon we’ll work on a full rethink later in the year.

As I see it, it’s all very well being good at what you do but you do need people to do it with, otherwise you’re not actually being the very good that you could be, now are you?This is the time of quiet reflection, with different aspects coming together to lower the pace and give me the time and the inclination to check my heading and readjust where I’m going.

Things are definitely looking up. Not only is my learning-to-learn workshop being well received and promoted, I’ve been asked to write for Only Peterborough, one of the city magazines, who are looking to publish a mental health well-being column every month. Guess who was asked first! Oh yes. That should encourage more local publicity, don’t you think?

So where do we go from here, one year on and with blog readers continuing to increase?

There will be more to come on managing pain, particularly chronic pain and of course stress and related conditions will always feature.

My newer knowledge around understanding how we learn as individuals could have quite dramatic effects, increasing the quality of their study, improved results, embedding permanent learning and massively reduced exam stress.

As for the blog. Steady as she goes. I’ll keep posting weekly, if there’s enough quality chatter buzzing around my head and more or less often as inner wording allows. I might even indulge in the occasional offshoot here and there.

Other than that? Onwards…

…and definitely up!

Hypnosis MP3 and learning

Open the Shutters
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Related:

Sue Donnelly:        http://www.suedonnelly.com

Hypnotherapy mp3s (Chronic Pain Relief, Migraine Relief):   tonyburkinshaw.co.uk

Dog-fights, hypnotherapy and MP3s

Why is it that every time I sit down to record a carefully designed and well-thought out therapy MP3, the good-old Royal Air Force decide that it is also exactly the right time for their Typhoons to practice dog-fights above my house? And just in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to be subjected to this display of technological military might, those buggers are really loud when they get going; I mean proper loud. I understand that practice makes perfect and all that but why is it every time I sit down and switch on my digital recorder the air becomes a pilot’s playground?

The more astute ones amongst you may have noticed a certain use of language in that little rant of mine because obviously it’s not every  time I try, otherwise I’d never get anything recorded at all, would I? And I have, obviously. There’s four of them sat in my shop, not to mention all those bespoke ones I’ve sent off to clients following their therapy sessions. Although, now I mention it, on those rare occasions when combat isn’t the order of the day, children play outside the house or the neighbour’s decide to start the car and leave it running whilst discussing whatever it is loudly enough to be picked up on the recording. Strangely though, the birds go quiet. The one noise that actually works quite well, birdsong, becomes mysteriously absent.

It’s strange just how much something turns up when you get tuned into it. Once something is on life’s sonar, it keeps on pinging its presence no matter how much you try to ignore it. This only becomes a big issue if your personal sonar keeps alerting you to the fact that everything around you is negative and out to disrupt your plans. Therein lies stress and anxiety, phobia and pain, throwing your life into protection mode. After all if everything around you is negative, priority needs to be given to staying safe.

Once that switch gets flipped, the spiral twirls its way firmly downwards. Being on high-alert is more effective. It means you get to know about dangers sooner. So you go ahead and get your alarms set on extra-sensitive and guess what? All of a sudden, you notice even more of those negative whatsits which in an odd way is strangely reassuring because it would be quite unsettling to feel as though everything were going wrong but when you looked you couldn’t see anything bad at all.

If you look at life through alarm filters designed to spot bad things, that my friend, is exactly what you’re going to see. It makes perfect sense. Alarm filters are absolutely not going to alert you to life’s little wonders now are they? It would be crazy to want to need to know when something bad was about to happen if all your alarm system wanted to tell you was that the wild-flowers are looking particularly lovely today. It’d be like something out the HitchHiker’s Guide, good book(s) though it (they) may have been in its (their) day. Douglas was definitely odd in his outlook on writing which was after all his appeal. It’s a real shame he didn’t stay around to do even more. I particularly liked the free-fall whale and the petunias. Not to mention cricket.

We could, of course, now choose to spin off into all sorts of geopolitical equivalence and how the powers that be may not actually be the powers that we elect, for those of us with the apparent ability to actually vote for those we are told hold the power. But conspiracy theory and purple lizards aside, I think we’ll stay in the realm of the individual.

One of the keys to successful therapy is to retune those high-alert alarms so they return to their correct role of letting you know when something actually harmful is on its way, whether this be the physical modern-day equivalent of the toothéd beastie or indeed that all-consuming issue of any creature living amongst its kin, the social faux pas. What alarms ought to do is to protect you when there really could be some harm coming your way, not spook you with every single negatively nuanced interpretation of anything at all that could possibly be construed as not quite as good as you might have wanted and then clothe it as truly villainous.

As well as retuning the alarm system, the other delightful focus of therapy is to show you how, without even really being aware of how you do it, to start to notice all those things which really do begin to show you that the world which has been scaring you to death, almost literally, really does hold increasing volumes of worthwhile stuff (sorry for the highly technical terminology) and despite your best efforts, once you start to notice it, worthwhile stuff turns up all over the place.

Pretty soon, without knowing quite how, you aren’t under such constant threat any more. Without knowing quite how, you begin to realise that you’ve been noticing things that keep hinting to you that you’re actually feeling little bit better. Without knowing quite how, you went for that interview and something tells you did well. Without knowing quite how, the pain well, isn’t. And without knowing quite how, you revised successfully for that exam in half the time and with none of the stress.

And the truly weird thing is, you do it all by yourself. All the therapy does is show you what you’re already capable of doing. And once you’ve seen it, or to be exact, once your unconscious mind has seen, heard, felt, understood or other mode of representational filter, it, a sentence which does work, re-read it if you don’t believe me, you just can’t help but go right ahead and do it, like those mythical sisters of old, for yourself.

And if you’re still not convinced, it’s just possible that quite soon, looking back and thinking about it, you’ll realise that you noticed a few things which let you know you felt a little better. And later on, you might find that without really meaning to look, there were even more that you could have noticed but didn’t at the time…

I just thought of one. It made me smile.

art therapy hypnosis

Art or eyesore?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Related Links

Typhoon: A demonstration of extreme manoeuverability

Tony Burkinshaw: Hypnotherapy MP3s

Learning the hard way?

The road to success is paved with whatever the hell they decided to put there to trip you up and teach you a lesson. Learn the hard way. The point is, I’m slowly getting more adept at spotting the obstacles and gently meandering my way around them. I can’t quite make up mind as to whether my lack of headlong dash is down to external or internal barriers and given that I nearly know what I’m talking about, it’s almost certainly both.

You see, those of you who’ve been here before, (deliberately ambiguous, although neither syntactic, phonological nor punctuation in variety, just plain could mean something else depending on your viewpoint and right now I can’t recall the correct adjective, (or is it adverb), modifier), will understand, which is in itself a mind-read, that one of my underlying objectives in this not-so-rapidly approaching future is not to work too hard.

Herein lies one of the difficulties in my plan. Negative objectives are counter-productive and invariably fire off in the opposite direction to the one intended, unless of course you subscribe to reading between the lines and then of course it is firing off in the direction intended, just not the direction I was consciously thinking of at the time. Self-sabotage and all that.

If I don’t want to work too hard I have to hold in the back of my mind a concept, picture, cerebral noise or whatever the particular modality of choice happens to elicit in order to be able to know whether I am indeed working too hard or not. And of course if I hold this in my mind, two things happen. I subscribe to the don’t-cycle-into-that-tree targeting beloved of parents who then have to contend with the grazed knees of 5 year olds who conscientiously concentrated on that very tree so hard that the inevitable became, well, inevitable. Or I achieve my objective by doing everything except working hard. And in order to ensure that this done with style, the only way to be certain is not to work enough. Bugger.

Obviously this is not what I wanted so I now work towards enjoying how I earn a living, no matter how much or little time that happens to take up. After all, time is not really the issue. Lifestyle is the issue. Week by week, my time is becoming more and more my time. Hooray.

Unfortunately, the general public, (not you of course), doesn’t appear to have heard of me in sufficient numbers as yet. At least not to the point of any sort of self-sustainability. Despite multiple efforts with my google page, Google appears to ignore me on searches where other nearby, and not so nearby, pages pop up and wave at searches where I ought to be figuring. Never mind. It’s only Google and they can’t even spell their own name correctly according to Legend, (good film, not a bad remake).

The good part about being well-versed in hypnotics is that I have already seen myself in the future, working just enough in a style that actually isn’t work at all. It’s also not too far away, though to be fair I haven’t seen myself holding up a calendar and pointing to a date. Suffice it to say, when I peer towards that future me, I still have hair.

The positives are still positive. The MP3 downloads for Chronic Pain, Migraine and Post-Surgery Healing have had some good feedback in the efficacy department and more on-line support groups are becoming interested. I have ideas bubbling for some more.

The key positive change has turned out not be a change at all. I was expecting a fork in the road or at least a cross-roads but no. What has actually turned up has been a path which drives directly between the twin highways of my current multi-career. I hypnotherapise clients and also train and assess in Financial Services (capitalising as it were, on my previous background). I enjoy both. One fulfils the technical geekiness that I seem to find easy to translate into English and the other allows me to help clients move forward in whatever their journey of development happens to be, in whatever way happens to suit them.

Strangely, the middle path just opened up in front of me on 21st June, which I’ve only just realised was the Summer Solstice so I can’t be quite as far gone as some would have me believe. According to a least one person very close to me, I am now a member of the cult of Cognitive Hypnotherapy. Maybe I should talk about it less enthusiastically.

I was in Bracknell, a place not renowned for revelations or miracles although it was the only place I have watched 4 families of Canada geese, complete with about 20 goslings, wait patiently for the lights at the pedestrian crossing and then cross the road. Well it was peak rush hour, so I suppose they were just being safe. Anyhow, having reconnected with a variety of companies I provide freelance training for, one of them called on my mobile and, rather than wanting my services for technical training of the Financial variety, wanted to know if I could write some face to face training for delegates who found professional qualifications time-consuming, stressful and to put it bluntly, pointlessly boring. He knew I was a Cognitive Hypnotherapist you see and wanted to know if there was anything I now knew that could be transferred into the technical learning sphere.

Well of course there could be! Much of the knowledge I’ve gained during my time at Quest in Regent’s University could easily be transferred into this.  Not only that but Trevor, the driving force behind Cognitive Hypnotherapy had honed his hypnotherapy skills whilst working as a trainer himself. As well as starting to pull my own ideas together I got in touch with Quest to see what resources they might have which could assist. I spoke with Jan, marvel that she is, on the 24th June who promptly told me that Universe was speaking to me and I should sit up and take notice. Quest’s three yearly cycle of master practitioner training events just happened to be running the very course I needed, that very weekend – only 5 days away.

Needless to say after much, well not much really, debate, I cancelled my trip to see my mother-in-law (sorry Sheila) and began the journey to what may well be a key part of my future. Over the 3 day course, idea after concept after technique kept slotting themselves into the gaps and bridged the gulf between the two areas I had thought would always remain separated.

So whilst I remain committed to helping clients through pain and stress and other difficulties, I see a future opening up where the help I now have the knowledge, (the skills were already in place), to give is to coach and train people in how to learn in a style that suits them. Most of are destined to learn in whichever way we happened to pick up whilst at school. We simply do it harder and for longer as the degree of complexity and difficulty increases and the exams get tougher and time becomes less available. It’s one thing learning ineffectively whilst in an education establishment, it’s another altogether when you’re trying to expand your full-time-consuming career. It’s like discovering you’re sailing in the wrong direction and putting up more sails to go faster and whatever you do, keep going straight ahead into the storm.

So a key strand which is already falling into place is training groups in effective learning techniques and coaching individuals where they find there are barriers to learning that they can’t get past. It’s applicable in the realm I usually train within, that of professional qualifications but is equally, and perhaps more importantly, applicable to those who are still within the education system.

Most curricula lack content which ensures that each individual is given the opportunity to discover how they learn best. We all receive, process and recall information in our own ways. We all learn differently but are all taught the same. Surely it’s important to give everyone the opportunity to discover their own path. Imagine how much more exciting and fulfilling learning would be. Who needs stress?

Whatever will you learn next?.

effective learning  & hypnosis MP3

Get over it…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Related:

www.cognitivehypnotherapy.org

http://tonyburkinshaw.co.uk