(Edge #3): Meditation and How it Helps You Learn a Language

hello everyone this is Paul and you are watching the Lang focus Channel today I’m going to talk about language learning edge number three and that edge is meditation so you might be thinking what the heck does meditation have to do with language learning well it has a couple of big benefits that can really affect your results so I wanted to share it with you it’s something that I do all the time but I want to make clear that this is not religious meditation if you have your own religion and you’re worried that maybe this is Buddhism or some other religion that uses meditation no I’m not teaching you that I’m just talking about how to relax your body and also your mind so that you can focus and learn more efficiently alright well let me talk about some of the benefits that meditation has for your language learning one of them is that it puts you in an ideal learning state it puts you in something called an alpha state which means that your brainwaves are moving at a slower speed than they are when you normally go throughout your day when you normally go about your day you are in a beta state in your brain waves are moving at more cycles per second than they are when you are in a relaxed alpha state when you’re in an alpha state you are alert you are aware of what’s going on around you but you’re calm you’re relaxed and there’s an absence of agitation or an absence of stress or anxiety so that absence of stress and anxiety is very important for learning now if you’re taking a language course in a classroom I mean you can enter that alpha state through meditation by doing that to yourself and hopefully your teacher doesn’t strike some kind of anxiety into you hopefully they’re not the kind of teacher who tries to intimidate you or yells at the students a lot or takes their own life’s frustrations out on the students if you have that kind of teacher they’re probably going to give you anxiety which spikes you up into a beta state which means you’ll be more agitated and outside of an ideal learning state so let’s just say you have a teacher who is perfectly calm relaxed and pleasant so there’s no nothing inhibiting you from becoming relaxed so you can do a kind of meditation on yourself to enter that alpha state but if you’re at home doing cell study then there are some other things you can do to help yourself enter that alpha state even more easily you can listen to some relaxing music especially classical music is quite well-known for helping you enter an alpha state especially if the tempo is quite slow like if it’s at a Largo tempo that can help you even more but it depends on you as well I listen to a lot of jazz jazz in the background like not really fast fusion type jazz but laid-back classic jazz from the old days of Miles Davis that kind of thing and that helps me get into that relaxed alpha state I could be whatever you like some kind of slowed down deep house or whatever whatever you think relaxes you and doesn’t agitate you or give you any anxiety so any kind of emotionally torturous music is probably out the window you don’t want that you want something that’s just calm relaxing eliminates anxiety another thing you can do is listen to binaural beats now what these are is you put on some headphones and you hear just a frequency just a sound at a certain frequency so when you put it on you just hear one more move like a kind of wave sound pinging back and forth between your headphones but what that does is it changes your brain waves or your brain waves match the the waves of the binaural beats in your headphones there are all sorts of different binaural beats for different brainwave speeds for different purposes but you want to find ones that are putting you in an alpha state now if you just look on YouTube you can find some binaural beat videos that people have uploaded and if you type in binaural beats alpha you’ll see a lot of examples and if you want you can type in binaural beats alpha language-learning and then you’ll get some more specific examples that have been created specifically for language learning so look for those I use those when I’m studying I put on headphones in the binaural beats help me go into that alpha state while I’m studying it gives me that relaxation I’m in that ideal learning state it just does it a bit more easily if you have the binaural beats in your headphones at least they work for me some people say it’s pseudoscience they don’t think it works if you don’t think it works then skip it and you can just relax yourself however you see fit but I find it works so you can give it a try if not go to the classical music or just focus on meditating yourself the key is just to get into that alpha state where you’re relaxed you don’t have any anxiety and you can learn efficiently another awesome benefit of meditation for language learning is that it helps you with your listening comprehension so when you’re listening often there’s something that’s blocking you or getting in your way now what I mean is this all of us have a kind of running inner dialogue inside our head it’s kind of a voice that’s constantly narrating our lives and commenting on what’s happening around us so if you see a dog walking down the street your inner voice will probably say hey nice dog or wow that dogs ugly or whatever it’s commenting on things in real time as you live your life and it’s even doing that when you’re speaking to another person now if you’re talking to someone who speaks your own native language then it’s no problem because you’re getting the message instantly without any effort so your inner dialogue she’s commenting on the content and maybe deciding how you’re going to respond but when you’re talking to someone speaking your target language maybe you’re not even getting the message of what they’re saying so from that inner voice you’re getting nothing but interference your inner voice is probably saying stuff like what does that word mean oh no I don’t know that word what grammatical structure was that was he using the past perfect and that kind of thing is just distracting you by kind of making you jumpy and making you think too much so what you want is for that voice to shut the up you want that voice to shut up so that you can clearly listen to the other person rather than have this interference from a different voice you don’t want to be hearing two voices at the same time one external and one internal you want to just be hearing the one external voice so we want to shut off that inner voice and you can do that through meditation so when you’re talking to the other person you don’t want to think about what they’re saying you just want to basically have a clear mind you want to open the door and just let the information come in rather than trying to process it actively that may be counterintuitive but it actually makes it easier to understand then you would have if you were thinking about what the other person is saying meditating while talking to someone so that you can understand them better takes conscious effort at first it takes some effort and it takes some practice to get good at it but after a while it becomes easier and it becomes basically an unconscious process and you start to do it automatically after a while so don’t get too worried about it if it requires effort at first that won’t last forever you just gotta reinforce it until it becomes a habit okay so how do we meditate well I’m not a meditation guru or expert or anything but I know a few techniques and I’ll teach you the two most common ones that I use all the time every day as I go about my day and I definitely use when I’m studying languages or speaking a language that is not my native language so the first thing is to just focus on your breathing all right so your breathing slowly and deeply you’re paying attention to your breathing noticing your breathing and if your attention drifts away and starts to think about something other than your breathing then just bring it right back alright so it’s not a big deal you don’t stress if your attention wanders you just bring your attention back to your breathing okay so that has the effect of relaxing you physically but also mentally because you’re taking your focus away from that inner voice inside your head now the second technique is something I call body awareness similar to the breathing one except you’re just noticing sensations that are already present around your body so for example if you pay attention to your feet right now and why don’t you do it pay attention to your feet and notice what sensations are already there do you feel any tingling or buzzing or do you feel some kind of warmth or heat in your feet so just notice those sensations and let them be there maybe you’ll feel them moving throughout your feet or moving up your legs or something like that and pay attention to your hands to notice your hands maybe you’ll feel some sensation there do you feel some tingling or some buzzing or do you feel the warmth or do you feel the warmth moving throughout your hands and up your forearms and into your your arms and shoulders something like that so just pay attention to sensations and you can move your attention around your body some people call this body scanning like when you are moving your attention around your body and noticing different sensations there’s no strict order to it you don’t have to do it all from head to toe or toe to head you can start with your hands then go to your feet you can then jump to your buttocks so your back and your shoulders whatever order you want just just move your attention around two different body parts and notice the sensations there now you might be thinking doesn’t that distract me from studying or doesn’t that distract me from listening to the other person or listening to the teacher it’s actually not distracting because you are taking attention away from your inner voice in your head and that inner voice in your head is actually full of kind of intellectual ideas right it’s something you have to think about but when you’re just noticing sensations you don’t have to think about anything you’re just drawing your attention there you don’t have to actually process any information you don’t have to react to that sensation you just notice it that’s it so it’s different than your inner dialogue which is something that is varying and kind of annoying and distracting so just to recap meditation is good for entering into an alpha state which is ideal for learning it’s also good for listening comprehension and the two techniques are pay attention to your breathing and do some body awareness or body scanning just noticing sensations around your body all right so it’s quite a simple message for today I hope that was helpful thank you for watching lang focus have a good night I’ll see you next time now it’s extremely important to learn the phonological system of each language you learn because it’s really what connects you to that language it’s the thing that associated with that language it helps you access your integrated skills your synthesized skills in that language we speak closely related forms of communication sometimes they are called different languages sometimes they are called dialects of one language so how do we decide which one they are sometimes there’s some disagreement about which one a particular form of communication is is it a dialect or is it a separate language you


  1. From the title of the video, I was expecting you would mention a custom of talking to oneself, murmuring, muttering, as Psalm 1:2 וּֽבְתֹורָתֹ֥ו יֶהְגֶּ֗ה יֹומָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה׃ describes a righteous person "meditating" the instruction of God day and night.
    Learning a foreign language, or the Law, or lines of play scripts "by heart" might be as similar as meditation process, it seems.

  2. I am glad that I discovered your channel. You feel like a healer, although when I first discovered your channel, I thought you looked like a person with substance abuse. I guess I have been judgemental.

  3. +Langfocus I like your content but your editing has room for improvement. I think you use jump cuts way too often, it conflicts with your slow and relaxed tone. It's just my opinion, but I thought you'ld appreciate getting some negative feedback too.

  4. Paul, why are you trying to get rid of the voices in my head. Now they're telling me that you're dangerous and I should stop listening to you….;)

  5. O house-builder! Thou art seen. Thou shalt build no house again. All thy rafters are broken. Thy ridge-pole is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving.

  6. I got a headache from the Binaural beats thing. I find that songs like Bóg Się Rodzi or I vow to thee my country work well to relax me.

  7. I've been meditating daily for about 2 years now and it has definitely helped my focus in general. Great tips on the music as well!

  8. Thanks ! Meditation might also diminish one's attachment to a cumbersome ego you attributed an unfavorable effect to in your video comparing the adult way to learn a language towards the kid's way.
    Hey, just saw on the right your "let go of your Ego".
    Should I consider the addiction I'm developing to your vids ? Nah !! They're serious & good fun.

  9. Whoa, I never took the time and felt the need to meditate but your simple explanation on how to shut off my analytical voice by focusing on the breathing was quite effective and joyfully relaxing, tyvm! If you have a access to a fireplace, it's VERY relaxing and should be good for studying.

  10. P.S. Found an efficient binaural, feel like a blonde after a while. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqmmrWTgEjA

  11. This is no joke…
    I did the meditation as instructed and felt allot of different but subtil sensations. I then focused on my feet and felt a tingling sensation, then something soft and cozy. It turned warm and I felt the sea. Water rushing on to my feet. I then moved my feet. And OMG! I feel Water! I was so pleased that I could feel it so intense.
    I then looked down, full with comfort and sel- esteem to discover that my cat pissed on my feet….

  12. wow, that reminds me of my French classes in secondary school, they were horrific and the teacher was arrogant
    I really want to learn French now and learn it right away from the Egyptian school system's "memorize, take the exam and then forget" method, I want to learnt consistently and without pressure or stress

  13. thanks for introducing the idea of meditation to help learn a language, great idea 🙂 binaural beats are a great headache cure as well haha

  14. the alpha state is great. i always knew about it but didn't know that's what it's called. i am a street performer. alot of times, before i play a song, i sit there and kind of let go of all my thoughts, and let my body loosen up. then i will begin to play. most often, people start tipping. i know they sense my comfort, and my grounded vibe and it has a positive reaction. sometimes it is very windy, or the atmosphere is distracting and i cannot tap into that alpha state. the results tip-wise aren't so positive. every time i am done with a song i always pause and breathe and try to let go before i start another song. it almost always helps for the better

    i learned to do that from a friend. we were talking about the home-run derby in baseball. some great hitters weren't hitting great. my friend said they don't really stop and readjust before each pitch, like they do in games. if they did, then they would have better results. i believe this to be true

  15. I used to listen to 12Hz binaural beats 30 minutes a day.That was when school is stressing me when vacation is approaching.When vacation came,temporary goodbye to meditation and hello to laziness.

  16. My english inner voice speak with me without rest. My Russian inner voice is sleapping right now. I don;t want to wake up him. I feel my brain lettaraly. And it's like I'm going crazy. And I worry about my mental health. And I am not kidding.

  17. i know what you mean, Paul. For learning languages, especially listening comprehension – after I have a nice hot shower, I go to bed, turn off the lights and try to relax and put the head phones in. My listening skills improve substantially in Japanese. The brain feels safe and nothing but the words coming from my iPhone matters. Ideal way to practice listening, for me at least. I like doing this.

  18. holy shit i'm watching a lot of your videos right now and you make me laugh with a zinger at least once per a video, the quality of your videos are admirable. nice channel and nice vids, i appreciate them a lot!

  19. have you heard about four seven eight technic? anyway I hate that inner voice which always distracts us and leads us actually to nowhere let's say I'm learning a language now but inner voice talks to me about going to the store but when you're there you start to think about sth different and it changes all the time and also it can be sometimes creative we can come over a good idea when doing sth utterly uncorrelated anyway I always try to use that inner voice in my head to speak to me in a foreign language so it boost my language abilities I recommend it

  20. Taking notes, listening attently to your video. then SHUT THE F up. 😅😅😅😅😅 Best tip I have ever heard about language learning.

  21. Thanks Paul, I was never good at learning languages, greetings from Switzerland. My way to learn was just listening without thinking.

  22. As someone with ADHD, I guess I'll have to reach a monk's level of meditation skills to shut up the crowd of inner voices interfering with my concentration 😐

  23. I've meditated for a long time (though I haven't for a while now) and this is a great guide for meditating. Good and simple instructions, which is what they should be. Meditating is a simple act. It's only strange at first because very few people try it till they are adults. A very powerful tool for a sharp and balanced mind.

  24. This is great. I speak French and German fluently. Years ago, I met some people from Luxembourg and listening to them scrambled my brain – Luxembourgish is kind of French, kind of German, and my mind was completely preoccupied with categorizing each word as one or the other, to the extent that discerning meaning was overshadowed totally by this effort. Late in the evening, after quite a lot of wine, that part of my brain gave up the fight and I found myself understanding most of what they said. I always wondered why, and alpha state vs. beta state explains it perfectly. There goes my excuse to drink! Looking for beats now. Thank you for this; very helpful indeed.

  25. I have always found that metal music actually relaxes me. When ever I am stressed or angry, I play some metal and it helps to calm me down and relax. May seem strange, but it works for me.

  26. That aural beat… as a sound sensitive half-deaf person it sounds torturous to be honest – way opposite of what is needed to get into a meditative state.

  27. This was my third video of yours in consecutive, and in the second video I became aware of the background score while the third video gave me the answers. as to why . Thank you, you are doing a good job 😀

  28. What do you think of using guided meditations in the target language so you get input as well as an alpha brain state, killing 2 birds with one stone?

  29. I like how while you were talking about bringing your mind back to your focus if you get distracted, YouTube threw in an advertisement.

  30. I think maybe learning to understand a foreign language is a little like playing a musical instrument proficiently: You need to reorganize your brain a little bit and replace some of your usual ongoing background processes (like maybe a voice in your head) to do it well. I often think of this in terms of trying to fill your mind with applicable mental activity so much that it pushes out all the unnecessary activity.

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