Things to do before exams
1. Sleep well (follow steps below)
2. switch off any screens at least an hour before bed
3. don’t drink coffee or alcohol or eat sugar after supper ( even better, avoid them altogether if you can)
4. have a hot bath with lavender or chamomile essential oils before bed
5. massage yourself slowly with warm (pop it on the radiator) almond oil with lavender drops (failing that, both olive oil and sesame oil that you get from the food shop are fine)
6. have a chamomile/limegrass/valerian tea 1 hour before bed
7. eat a regular times and sleep at regular times, bed around 10 and up at around 6/7
8. make sure your room is cool and clean with fresh air and your bed is warm and clean
9. read something inspiring before bed for a few minutes
10. Ujjayi breath for 10 minutes in the evening.
11. Eat well (lots of veg, lots of water, not too much sugar as sugar can cause mental confusion as it leads to a fungus called Candida )
12. Try Rhodiola (A herbal supplement, made from the root of roses, helps with focus and concentration)
EXERCISES (designed to be done standing)
13. Focussing breath – analoma viloma – breathe in for 4 through the left nostril, and out for 8 or 4, through right nostril and then in 4 right out 8 left – carry on for as long as it is comfortable, 5 – 10 mins)
14. Breathe in three steps, imagine a ladder – breathe up each rung, one at a time, pause in between and then breathe out Ujjayi breath as long as you possibly can – try doing this with your eyes closed (Darth Vader sound, like when you close the back of your throat a bit to make a hissing sound) – do this for about 5 minutes or more if you like. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable then stop.
Stress relieving exercises –
15. Chair posture – hold for at least a minute
16. Twist in chair – 30 secs
17. Warrior (make the bend in the knee deep) make sure your shoulders are relaxed – 1-2 minutes
18. Focussing exercises – balancing postures – dancer – 1—2 minutes
19. Shoulder release –more dancer or clasping hands on lower back and forward bend ujjayi breath and lift arms as high as they can go – 1 minute
20. Shoulder rolls
21. Hip rolls
22. Hands on hip bones, arch back both ways, cat and cow – several times
23. Eye exercises – roll the eyes around in the socket slowly one way and then the other way, then focus far away and then close, rub the hands together until they become warm and then place them over the eyes.
24. Side bends with hands above the head, stretch arms above the head, lift the right arm and hand and tip over to the left, hold for a count of 10 and do the other side. Once each side, slowly.
25. Finish with a forward bend, fully relaxed, rag doll.
(optional headstand or handstand, to get the blood flowing in the body towards the brain!)
Visualisation for exams:
imagine you sitting at the desk, you are completely quiet and still, bring your awareness to the feet – feel as if they have roots in the ground, growing roots downwards, drawing inspiration from Mother Earth – inspiration flowing through you (what does it look like), calm belly and a golden light infuses you with wisdom and discrimination while you confidently answer fully each question. Imagine the clothes you will be wearing, the table, where you will be sitting , the pen you will use and how you feel completely confident.
Know that your mind can be your ally or your enemy, depending on you. Which thoughts are you entertaining? We all have thoughts “ I am not good enough, I am an imposter, I am just faking it” But we also have thoughts like “ I know this stuff, I am intelligent, I can do this, I have studied hard and I can do my best here and now”
Which thought is best to choose? You know. If you have difficulty with unwanted thoughts, it can sometimes help to have a song or a mantra in your head that brings you back to a positive state of mind – mine used to be “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor!!! But nowadays I use an even more positive mantra – “Om”, if you just repeat the sound A-O-U-M with each outbreath quietly in your mind, it will empty your mind a little, then you can refocus.
TRUST YOURSELF, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Why exams are good?
This is not an easy question for me, but I do think they are good for focussing the mind and also learning how to retain information and learning how to learn!
It is also a “tapas”, to spend time doing something you don’t want to do, to enhance your self discipline. When I started playing the piano, I didn’t want to practise, but I did and now I can play a few pieces. There is always something the mind does not want to do, but that eventually it benefits from. As Simon Haas says in his excellent book “If I didn’t have the discipline to practise the piano, I wouldn’t have the freedom to play it now.” So, discipline leads to freedom, every time.