Abhyāsa - How to Effectively Accelerate Your Learning Curve

Progress! Whenever we learn something new, we are eager to make progress. Often we measure this progress by the sheer amount of facts and details we gather and far too often we struggle by a mental form of indigestion once we get deeper into the subject of our interest.

A wise man in the tradition I follow once said: “Studying significant knowledge is like eating iron balls. Once swallowed, it’s only a matter of time for them to leave your system without any remnant left behind”.

Imagine you start to learn a new language

Sure enough you want to enrich your vocabulary, but you will do so in digestible bits and pieces. And the amount of those bits and pieces is defined by your practical application and integration of what you learned so far.

Once you can effortlessly apply what you've learned, you're ready for new material. However, if you stop revisiting and using the words and grammar you've already mastered, the "iron ball effect" kicks in.

In no time you will lose what you thought you had already well digested and fluently available.

Eagerness and determination are wonderful when oriented towards quality

Best prize, best offer, best deal. Try to get the most out of what you desire and invest in. Sometimes it seems to me as if this attitude is some kind of popular pastime.

When it comes to studying, this zeitgeist can turn into a serious problem, inviting you to lose perspective of quality by a drive for quantity.

But what’s the problem? The short answer: Iron balls. Knowledge undigested, filling numberless notebooks on your shelf - no that’s old fashion - filling the terabytes in your cloud storage.

I am shortly launching a one-year Jyotisha Darshana course. A small, exclusive group of only nine participants will learn a unique blend of Jyotisha (Indian astronomy and astrology), Sāmudrika (Vedic body knowledge), and Vāstu (Vedic design).

This small international team is highly motivated and determined (a prerequisite for joining a year-long course). There's a wealth of fascinating material awaiting the participants, and we will follow a strategy to ensure they can digest it all effectively. The name of this strategy: Abhyāsa.

Expectations will be high for sure (so I hope!)

How easy it would be to throw all of my students into the deep end of the sacred ocean of Vedic Wisdom Lore! Being cultivated by our zeitgeist, chances are high some of them would even love it. But only with the effect of adding more files and recordings to their cloud storage, instead of having valuable knowledge available to call on any time (because it is solidly memorized).

What Abhyāsa is and how it can serve you well

In the Indian Wisdom Tradition Abhyāsa is one out of six important principles supporting successful studies (the other five will be addressed in upcoming articles). Loosely translated, the Sanskrit term Abhyāsa means “repetition”.

No matter if you are about to start studying a new subject at your favored university, or if you simply wish to enhance your knowledge regarding your favored hobby, Abhyāsa will help you to make progress.

But Abhyāsa wouldn’t be part of the six principles for effective studies of wisdom knowledge, if it were just about boring memorization of content. Instead Abhyāsa is an effective way to ensure that what you study becomes an intrinsic part of yourself, while preventing what we labeled above as the iron-ball-syndrome.

Effectively building, expanding, and maintaining your knowledge

Abhyāsa consists of two syllables: abhi + āsa. Abhi means moving towards. Āsa stands for abiding, remaining, being contained in. In our context of accomplishing significant knowledge, Abhyāsa offers a strategy ensuring knowledge we study to abide and remain within us.

The art of Proper Focus

Many years ago Thomas, a friend of mine, was studying medicine, besides running a clinic for physiotherapy and teaching regularly for different academies. At the same time he was involved in a time consuming research project.

Asking him how for heaven’s sake he was able to successfully study medicine (what he did) besides all his other endeavors, he gave me the following response: “If you focus on what is really essential, you know enough to infer the rest without further effort. It’s that simple.”

At the time I was stunned and puddled by his answer. Today I’m sure, although he might not have known the term itself, he firmly knew and used Abhyāsa.

Three keyword point to the essence of Abhyāsa

  1. Longtime
  2. Uninterruptedly
  3. Properly

Thoomas, my friend in the former example, focused on primary core principles in his studies enabling him to infer a boatload of secondary knowledge. Instead of trying to digest endless details from books about anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc., he got to the nub of each subject.

Essential principles are just the beginning

Having identified those primary principles, Thomas didn’t stop. Instead they served him as a kickstart to gain momentum. He memorized the principles by heart and repeated them regularly. Again, and again, and again. Regularly for a long time without interruption. What looks like a boring procedure at first glance enabled him to get ever faster. Faster in defining the primary core principles of each new subject he encountered in his complex studies of medicine and faster in his capacity to infer the secondary facts connected.

Based on this self-induced training he not only got stunningly effective in mastering his studies, but also paved an insidertrack to successfully accomplish and finish his awarded and celebrated research.

Don’t waste your memory. Avoid indigestion.

It is easy to fall into the trap of learning endless material you will never need and use again and therefore are about to forget for sure. That’s nothing then wasting your mental ressources. 

Proper, being one of the aspects of Abhyāsa, asks for focus on that which is essential. Any seasoned source of knowledge will drive your attention towards this exquisite part of your studies (no matter if this source is a book, a video, or a teacher).

Once your focus is tuned towards this primary and essential knowledge your effort is well invested. Now it’s time to address the other two aspects of Abhyāsa, by implementing a longtime practice-routine you follow uninterruptedly.

Abhyāsa as a sound strategy

Abhyāsa is no rocket-science. You can use and integrate it as a strategy in each and all endeavors. By doing so you gain expertise fast and effectively without delay. Try it. You will love it.

Students of my course Jyotisha Darshana learn to have the content they study readily available, by utilizing Abhyāsa during the one-year training as their natural learning strategy.

Here are the key-pillars for this to happen: 

  • Those students establish a learning routine they follow for a long time (the course lasts one full year).
  • It entails daily no more than 35 minutes home-study, accompanied by weekly two-hour online teaching sessions. Sounds doable, doesn’t it? But here is the Abhyāsa deal: This doable daily and weekly routine takes place 50 weeks without interruption. That is the kind of commitment creating experts!
  • Regular intensive Refresher- and Immersion-Sessions strengthen proper focus on the primary core principles.

Now it’s your turn!

With the examples given, I hope you feel inspired to make use of Abhyāsa for your own studies and projects. Abhyāsa will steepen your learning curve and help you gain more focus, more clarity and even more joy in building and expanding your expertise in whatever you encounter.

Good luck to all!



Bernd Roessler

Ich zeige und erkläre Menschen, wie sie bewährte Weisheitsmethoden nutzen können, um ihre Ziele umfassender und schneller zu erreichen.

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