No Matter how unrelated these two things are, there is one common thread I discovered between these while listening to the audiobook “Mindfulness in plain English”(1991) narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. The book is primarily about the basics of Vipassana Meditation and mindfulness practice.
What is common in these?
In Chapter 7, “What do you do with your mind?” Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, a Srilankan Buddhist monk and the author of this wonderful book mentioned that all you need to do in this practice of meditation in to focus on one breath at a time, no matter how you much you may have got distracted in the last breathing cycle, just take the new breath afresh, leaving all connotations of the past breaths which were not so mindful and worries of the future breaths yet to come.
Being a GMAT aspirant for quite some time, I could connect it with the question pattern on this exam too. The questions on GMAT, just like breath do not allow you to go back to the last question you attempted or peep into any future questions to come. All you have is this question in front of you right now. And the sincerity with which you handle this very question in the now defines your overall score. Most anxiety and worry during the exam, of which I have been a long-time victim, comes from this very nature of the exam. If one is worried about the end result, which is not in his control and tries to move fast without actually focussing on the question in front of him now, he is bound to have an unpleasant result in the end. This is very similar to having unpleasant meditation experience when one has not focussed on each breath attentively and has just ruminated about past, future or the end goal.
What is the right approach
While I am myself finding more ways to get better at this process, I can share what I have seen working for me. This is what the venerable monk has to say on this. (and this applies to GMAT testing too 🙂 )
Mindfulness of breathing is a present-time awareness. When you are doing it properly, you are aware only of what is occurring in the present. You don’t look back and you don’t look forward. You forget about the last breath, and you don’t anticipate the next one. When the inhalation is just beginning, you don’t look ahead to the end of that inhalation. You don’t skip forward to the exhalation which is to follow. You stay right there with what is actually taking place. The inhalation is beginning, and that’s what you pay attention to; that and nothing else.-Ven. Henepola Gunaratana in Mindfulness in Plain English (1991)
The only figurative difference I see between this form of meditation and GMAT test-taking is the time-bound environment on GMAT. While in a meditation process, you do not need to think of time, GMAT requires a time-bound action. Though it is not as complex and difficult as it sounds, not focussing on the question at hand with a single-pointed focus can potentially worsen the score.
SO, let us start living a bit more mindfully today onwards to get better at life and also at GMAT (if that is what you are focusing on right now)