Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not the lesson I expected OR lessons in: ‘I will’ vs ‘will I?’



Some months back I posted how I was going to see if these neurofeedback exercises aided my picking up difficult material. I was hoping for, ‘cool, this is much easier now’, but alas, material I find difficult, is still difficult. I began with a fair amount of determination, and quickly became somewhat disillusioned that my ability to ‘will’ my way through such material had not exactly improved.

There was a lesson in all this however. The lesson learned is that an approach of ‘will I?’ has advantages over a more determined approach (‘I will’). As an example think of training to run, vs training for a golf tournament. In running determination may give you that last mile, whereas in golf determination will probably simply throw off your game. For golf, you want to be relaxed, taking things as they come, and feeling your way through. A good game of golf could be thought of as an artful process, rather than a sheer technical exercise (cannot control all the variables, so a certain intuitive process is involved).

Neurofeedback is an artful process as well. The control you have is indirect, its not a matter of ‘willing’ yourself into a state. Its more of intuitive memory of what a state felt like, and then finding your way back. It takes a certain patience, and willingness to have sessions that are not necessarily great, in exchange for steady progress, or at times unsteady progress.

My lesson learned is that for the material I struggle with, its better to seek & celebrate small gains rather than assume I can chart a course from the outset. This is also true of neurofeedback.

So my learning of difficult material (the language Clojure) is coming along, but as an artful process. There are two contributions that neurofeedback has for this, the first is simply being in a good space which makes it easier to concentrate. The second, potentially more dubious claim, is that for problems that I get stuck on, leaving them in the background and yet maintaining awareness of them, seems to have a reasonable success rate.

If I get brave (doubtful) I may try some of the focus enhancing drugs that seem so popular at the Ivy League universities. I suspect they would be better for this arena. For now I will use the more gentle approach

4 comments:

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  4. Certainly i saw the difference between the two phrases. The first one is determined while the second one is some sort of having second thoughts.

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