Meditation and Language Learning - A Perfect Partnership

By Greg Thurston

A few years ago I moved to Barcelona to learn Spanish.

It was my first time learning a new language and I didn’t know how I would cope, but I was up for the challenge.

Well, it was hard.


But meditation saved the day. Let me explain...

meditation and language learning

To get a Spanish student visa, you must study 4 hours per day, 5 days a week.

That may not sound like much, but 4 hours a day is seriously intense.

The first morning I was nervous...

It was the first day of school after all...

The moment I walked in the door, they spoke NOTHING but Spanish.


While I appreciate the "no English allowed" principle, and sure it helps to get the words into your brain, my mind was going into panic mode before I’d even finished paying the receptionist.

I was overwhelmed.

Really, I was stumped.

Maybe it’s because in my home country EVERYONE speaks English.

There’s absolutely no need to learn (or even be exposed to) another language, beyond a handful of Maori words to recite the haka.

My brain wasn’t used to dealing with another language... and now it was being bombarded for 4 hours every day, plus homework.

The teacher didn’t seem to understand that I just didn’t comprehend those words she was throwing at me one hundred miles an hour. And she didn’t relent.

So… everyday after class I would trudge home feeling like a zombie.

Now, I thought I was somewhat "mentally prepared".

At my web-based job I often worked through the night when the project needed.

Sometimes I would work from 9am until 4am the next morning...

But it doesn't compare.

I was more exhausted after just 4 hours of learning Spanish than after 19 hours of coding away at the computer.

Fortunately, I had a secret weapon. I had meditation.

How Meditation Turbo Charges Language Learning.

After a week of stumbling home exhausted, I turned to meditation...

And what happened was nothing short of amazing.

Each day I would get home, turn my phone to flight mode, collapse on the bed, and connect with my breath...

As I breathed in and breathed out, I released the tension of trying so hard.

You know that feeling when you’re trying desperately to hold something in your mind.

To not let it escape you.

To keep the sound in your mind and the muscle memory in your tongue.

But the funny thing is...

When you release and relax, things start to work automatically.

The new words stay in your mind, not because you’re tense and trying hard to remember, but just because they’re in there...

When you relax a little, the magic happens.

It's like going to the gym... the process of rest and recovery is when your muscles actually rebuild stronger.

Like magic... after meditation I was ready to work and relax and... Speak Spanish.

Ready to make decisions and code without being overwhelmed.

The nicest thing was, being in a relaxed state made me automatically think in Spanish...

To think about my job in Spanish... to dream in Spanish!

What an AMAZING experience... when you start to dream in another language!

So if you’re learning a new language and feeling overwhelmed, try meditation!

Really it goes beyond learning a language. It’s about mental-overwhelm in general... or mental WELLBEING.

It applies to whatever you have going on in your life.

The Final Takeaway

If you're struggling with a challenge, tune in to your breath and body... get your "natural relaxation response" working its magic for you.

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