etramak wrote:Anyone try mediation to prepare? I didn't do it before my first two takes despite the recommendation of other users here and LSAT blogs/prep companies, and perhaps at my peril. I started trying it a few weeks ago and, while it could just be in my head, it seems to have some positive effects during preptests. I guess I won't really know for sure until thirty days from now. I guess this really only applies if you have some anxiety during testing.
I've actually been having some trouble with getting tilted during tests, so maybe I should try this. What kind of meditation have you been doing?
Personally, just following the guided meditation offered as free trials on a couple of the more popular apps available in the Apple or Google Play stores. Basically just sitting down, taking a few deep breaths, closing my eyes, and not thinking about anything other than focusing on breathing for 10-15 minutes. I asked about overcoming test anxiety on this forum after I freaked out during the Tokens passage in June 2016 and got seven questions in a row wrong, shattering my score (my mind was racing throughout the test in general, too). Anyway, someone who seemed to know what they were talking about responded to me with a really great post that offers slightly different advice for mediation (notably, he says to keep your eyes open):
BirdLawExpert wrote:Howdy, y'all, just dropping in to say good luck. It's sad to see so many familiar faces in this thread, but if you're in this thread mere hours after getting your scores back, you've got the right attitude and I know you'll do well.
I just typed this up and posted it in the June Waiters Thread, but I realized it would probably do more good here. Someone in that thread had asked how to get over their test-day issues without "meditation or any of that Eastern mumbo jumbo", but I've worked with a lot of people that have issues with testing and meditation is a phenomenal tool. Here's a short guide, free of flowery spiritual language, about how and why you should be meditating if you had issues with performing on test day.
Speaking as someone who has worked a lot with students that get psyched out by tests, meditation isn't "Eastern mumbo jumbo", and it is typically the most effective tool for every student I've work with. Here's a short guide, free of any mumbo jumbo, to give you an idea of what I mean by meditation.
Don't meditate in the morning after just waking up. Meditate at a "busy" point in your day where you're actively solving problems.
Don't have your phone with you or within earshot. You need to be isolated as much as you can.
Don't meditate in the same room that you study in. Find a "neutral" location or a place in your house/apartment that you don't use very much. This seems counterintuitive but it's actually kind of important
Don't cut your time short if you're busy. That cheats you and kind of defeats the entire point of meditation. Make time for this.
Now that you've got your ground rules, here's what you're going to do. Grab that watch you use for timing sections on the test and set it to five minutes. Go sit on the floor in a neutral location facing an empty wall, and stare at that wall for five minutes. Do your best to think about nothing. Don't make plans, don't solve problems, don't think about what you're doing next, and don't think about existential nonsense or anything like that. Just sit there and stare at the wall and do your absolute best to avoid thinking of anything in particular. If you're like me, for the entire first week you do this you're going to be thinking "this is stupid, this is so stupid". That's fine. You'll get over it. Sit there for five minutes, not a second more or less. Do that for two weeks, which should be about how long it takes for you to get over the fact that you're sitting in a corner staring at a wall. Also, don't close your eyes, because hopefully you don't take tests with your eyes closed. If you do, we just solved your problem and you don't need to meditate.
After two weeks, you're going to sit there for fifteen minutes. You're going to feel like you're wasting even more of your time on this nonsense, but just do it. Don't think about your breathing or heart rate or anything like that. Just sit there for fifteen minutes and actively tell your brain to stop solving problems. If you have a train of thought, actively think about something else. Do this every day for not a second more or less than fifteen minutes. You're not going to succeed at first, you might not get anywhere close to succeeding, but keep doing it anyway. The entire point of this is to gain the ability to actively tell your brain to stop its surface-level problem solving processes for however long you may need it to. If you're getting through fifteen minutes pretty easily, then try thirty. If you're getting through thirty easily, you're probably good.
This isn't about becoming one with yourself or anything, this is about re-calibrating a mechanical issue in your thought process. The fundamental problem of most people who have issues with test taking is that when they sit down to test, they cannot control the pace at which they think. Thoughts fly in and out more quickly than normal, or not at all, and instead of taking a deep breath and being able to normalize their thought process like many people can, they have to take the test with their mind running at a thousand miles per hour or crawling at a snail's pace. That's just too mentally exhausting to deal with over a long test like the LSAT. By sitting down and forcing yourself to stop solving problems at a time when your mind is running at a high speed, you're essentially practicing that "calming" sensation that most test-takers have some innate knowledge of; you're crafting an on/off switch in your mind for problem solving. Meditation isn't good because it helps you find yourself, it's good because it's essentially the drilling equivalent of mentally preparing yourself to take a test.