Board exams are the talk of the season if you or anyone you know are a student. Here’s Sadhguru’s answer to a student’s question about “exam-phobia.”
Question: What measures can we adapt to improve our memory, and how can we overcome exam fear?
Sadhguru: Exam fear? You are asking the right one, straight from the horse’s mouth – somebody who had no fear of examination ever! That was my father’s greatest concern, that I had no fear of examination. He’d say, “This boy has no fear. What to do?”
Somewhere, it has spread around in society that fear is some kind of a virtue. Fear is not a virtue, fear makes you into the ugliest possible creature. The most unpleasant experience in your life is probably fear. That one thing not being there, has made my life absolutely pleasant because fear is about something that is yet to be. Fear is about something that does not exist right now. What will happen is the thing.
To learn or to prove?
The thing is, are you going to school to learn something or to prove something? This is what you have to decide. Once you go to any place to prove something about yourself, sickness of failure and success will set in. For one who wants to learn, there is no such thing as failure or success, it is just a question of striving. Someone may get it in one day, I may get it in ten days, someone may get it in a hundred days. It is just a question of striving. If your interest is to learn, to be able to strive relentlessly itself is a huge learning.
Please don’t try to improve your memory. You went to school not to remember some rubbish but to learn something and enhance the horizons of your life. You have to know and understand something about this existence around you. This is what is science, mathematics, social sciences, geography – this is what everything is. What you are studying is not some subject, it is different pieces of life. It may be presented in a most uninteresting way, but still it is life. You are learning something that could enhance the scope and play of your life. If you remember it, it will not transform your life in any way. You went there to learn. What you have learnt you have learnt, what you have not, you have not.
To copy or not to copy?
And if you know how to copy, well I’ve heard that in some places teachers encourage these things! I don’t think at this stage in your life, you should start your life with deception. I am not talking about honesty, I am talking about learning to be straight with life so that tomorrow, you don’t get all twisted out for small things. You are okay: “This is how I am. I get only thirty-five, it’s okay. This will not determine the quality of my life.”
I want you to understand this. What marks you get will not determine the quality of your life. But with how much integrity you exist will definitely determine the quality of your life. So, no copying, all right? Suppose you do not know anything, it’s all right. Sit there happily and come out. Do some yoga so life will become long and you can take one more year to learn! But no copying because you should not lose your integrity for the small, petty things these are. Otherwise, tomorrow, when big things come you will not be able to stand up to them.
Enhancing your capabilities
Getting a few marks more or less is not going to make so much of a difference. How much you learn and how many things you grasped right now will make a world of difference. Right now, focus on that. So many students just eat the book and vomit it out straight. After the examination is over, they are clean and unsullied by education! This is good for the exam maybe, but not for you, for society, or for the world. Don’t do that to yourself. By the time you get out of school, you should have grasped as much as possible. I want to see that you are knowledgeable, capable and competent so that tomorrow, when you step out into the world, you can do something sensible with your lives.
Don’t worry about your memory. What you know you will do, what you do not know anyway you cannot do. I don’t remember a damn thing. That’s why I can sit here and gossip with you about anything because there is no burden of remembering anything. How much you remember is not important. How sensibly, how wonderfully, with how much competence you live your life is important.
Editor’s Note: It’s not too uncommon for parents to feel more stressed about exams than children! If that’s the case, Isha Kriya, a short guided meditation could help you out. Children above the age of 12 can also practice this kriya. It’s free. Sign up with your email id.