Zen and the Art of Almost Studying

Zen and the Art of Almost Studying

There is wisdom in the art of almost-studying, and you can apply it to almost anything that you do.


Three words that create stress, fear and a monstrous amount of avoidance:

High School exams. 

My 16-year-old is deep in the middle of studying for his exams. Honestly, he is a master in the art of almost-studying. I have carefully observed him, and he has taught me the Zen art of almost-studying. 

Almost-studying is the presence of studying, without the need to actually study.

It is an art to almost-study. You need to be a creative and resourceful person to come close to studying without really studying. This is why it takes years of practice to become very good at almost-studying.

Lessons in the art of almost-studying:

1.You are almost-studying when you sit near your text books, with covers open. You don’t have to read your texts, you just have to be near them.

2.You are almost-studying when you spend as long as possible gathering your study materials. If you do it right, before studying, you can make several trips to your bedroom along with trips downstairs.  And mid-study, you can have breaks to search for pencils, sharpeners, and other items.

The greatest honor you can pay your teacher is to teach them something about almost-studying.

3.You are almost-studying when you doodle on your note pages. Doodling gives the impression to your teachers and your parents that you are looking at your materials. You are, but you are creating works of art. The work of art is in your mind when you are almost-studying.

4.You are almost-studying when you master the art of looking towards your notes and in the direction of your textbooks. This takes a great deal of concentration and skill. You need to concentrate and access your Zen in order to look meaningfully at your notes but not actually take in any information. Be the page but don’t research the page.

4a.An alternative to #4 is to look meaningfully at your calculator, your iPod or your iPhone. Varying your distractions is a key part of this art.

5.You are almost-studying when you spend as much time as possible searching for that essential paper. You know – the only paper that you really need for studying. The one paper that, if you don’t have it, you are screwed. This one works best if you act frustrated that you can’t find what you are looking for.

Paper is your consciousness. Gaze at it and you will learn.

6.You are almost-studying if you practice the Zen art of erasing. This is a masterful strategy of un-learning. When your parents or your teacher ask you why you are erasing your way through half of your notebook, just say “I am unlearning in order that I may learn.” An alternative to this strategy is to repeatedly stab your eraser with your pencil.

The first step of learning is to unlearn. Zen

7.You are almost-studying when you spend time gazing lovingly at your coffee. Coffee is very yummy, but there is an art to using coffee to avoid studying. It comes down to carefully planning your drinks of coffee. The way of the peaceful coffee warrior is to gracefully and slowly reach for the cup, carefully drink, and then gracefully put it back.

The demonstration of strength is not in how fast one can go, but in how slow you are able to be. Be slow, be strong.

Zen and the art of almost-studying can change your life. Spend time considering the principles  and the truths contained here. I assure you that you will find greater peace of mind. You will also have a greater grasp on the mind of a teenager and how they can invest so much time in unstudying.

Peace Out and Keep it Real

If you like this, you will love Zen, Recovery and the Art of Yard Maintainence and 16 Things that are Awesome About Having a 16 Year Old.

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

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