How do I study for long periods of time? Having this question is very good because that means there is a desire, a thirst for knowledge which is very important. Now we equate knowledge with money, but for that you don’t need to study for long periods of time. It is not just about ambition. The desire to gain knowledge is fundamental, it is primary.
How our Intelligence Operates/ How Our Mind Works
Once you have this desire to study focussed for an extended period of time, it requires a certain understanding of how cognitive functions work. Neuroscience speaks of cognitive skills. If you look at how our intelligence operates, we see two kinds of movements. One is a translational cognitive movement, another is a depth cognitive movement. These are orthogonal to each other. Translational cognition is like translational motion where an object moves from one point to another. The translational cognitive movement helps us set goals and targets and move from one to the other. Most of us get trained in these. In fact, our current society over-emphasizes this. Hence, we always see a certain jumping from one topic to the other. This will not allow you to settle down and go deep. The depth cognitive movement is very critical if you need to study for long periods of time.
Subjective and Objective Time/ Inner and Outer Time
When you say time, the translational movement of intelligence gives you this quality of objective time. You can see time in terms of half an hour I have done this and next half an hour I will do this.This translational cognitive movement of your own intelligence lets you multitask, jump from one task to another while keeping track of objective time. But that is not what we are interested in. Studying for extended periods of time means it needs to be immersive. When we talk of immersion, it means you should not jump. The cognitive movement, if it is translational, will not let you immerse yourselves. It will let you jump from one to the other. For this, you need another skill, which is a depth movement of your cognitive process, of your intelligence. So to go deep, there is a different kind of time called subjective time. It is a subjective flow, which gives you that immersiveness .Where you are immersed in something, the flow of time is different, it dilates. You don’t even observe the flow of time. This is similar to what happens in meditation .If you need to meditate for extended periods of time, you will be doing exactly the same thing. That subjective immersion is to do with the depth movement of your cognitive function.So the depth movement of your intelligence is very critical for studying extended periods of time.
Setting the Right Expectation/Setting Your Expectations/ Expectation Management
When you have this desire, this thirst for knowledge and you immerse yourselves in the subject matter, you record time in terms of subjective events of cognition and knowledge. Knowledge awakens in you and that is the time that is recorded. So it is not objective time, counting every half an hour. This is very critical to understand. See, for example, the 4 years of BTech. You get a degree, but do you have that knowledge? That knowledge is to do with the orthogonal movement in subjective time, where time is in terms of knowledge awakening, while objective time is in terms of degree. Both are important. Both are different cognitive functions. So this is critical to understand.
Once you understand this, there is also expectation management. Different types of subjects require different types of cognitive functions. Some are, let us say, mathematical, some others are abstract. I’m not saying that mathematics cannot be abstract, don’t get me that way! But different cognitive functions are involved and hence your orientation and background also needs to be taken into account, to set your expectation. Otherwise you might have expectations which don’t match your baseline.
Keeping Yourself Comfortable/Immerse Yourselves/ Dive In
So you have the desire for knowledge and you are ready to immerse yourselves in that process. Your expectation is broad, and not very objective. Once these are set, you will see your body needs to be comfortable. If you have overeaten, depth will really take you deep, you know! So that is not what we want. But reverie is okay! So a light stomach, and if your breathing is rhythmic and deep, you will see that you actually feel peaceful and ready to get immersed. You start with a smile, feeling good about pursuing knowledge, because that is the greatest thing that can happen to anybody.
So have a smile, think about the subject matter, whatever comes to your mind in a relaxed manner and dive in. May Saraswati Devi bless you!