State Awareness

A great life begins here! Are you aware?

State Awareness is a core life skill that will transform a person’s life. In order to perform better in any activity be that learning, sports, dealing with relationships or emergencies one needs to be in the correct state. I cannot over emphasise the importance of state awareness! In this video
I explain how to apply state awareness with the use of a traffic light metaphor in the context of study.

What is State Awareness?

State Awareness is a consciously chosen activity of evaluating one’s mental, emotional and body status. Once one's current state is determined one can then decide if it is optimal for the current situation. If the current state is considered sub-optimal then it can be changed. Few people have the habit of evaluating their state, so what tends to happen is people (regardless of age) operate in sub-optimal states all the time.
A prime directive of the unconscious mind is to be lazy, the path of least resistance. Under-performance will be the default behaviour until the optimal performance state is seen as a priority habit and made easy through practice.

The trick is one has to remember to check ‘is my state optimal for this situation?’ Forming this habit of state awareness is a core aspect of the tutoring process.

For learning, study, working on assignments and exam performance the optimal state is the learning state. In fact the learning state is optimal for many situations as that is when the neurology, mind, emotions and body are in top performance. In order to enter the learning state one needs to first evaluate one's current state.

In the animal videos I often point out the traffic light status of myself and the birds or animals. The animals teach us that state shifting can be instant. With practice it becomes fast and eventually when mastered it is lightning fast. At this level, where the habit is deeply embedded, the state awareness and entry into the learning state merge into a spontaneous switch. It is as fast as a light turning on. 'Am I' - dink - the light is on. It happened before the words can be spoken inside the mind. At this point of mastery the default setting is the optimal state. Then the durability of the learning state gets stronger.

As the tutor for this service I, Jason, live in the Learning State by default. The optimal state is now my 'lazy setting' because my neurology has designed its network to flow this way.  To be sub-optimal feels horrible and effort laden. Thus my unconscious wants to revert back to my lazy state of optimal where it is at peace. I am an expert in my field by living this.

State Awareness as Traffic Light indicators

The easiest way to understand state awareness is to use the universally understood traffic light metaphor. To make it obvious I have added in the smiley faces. Your state is the most important thing you have. It impacts everything in your life. For learning reasons it is critical, as the state of your neurology determines how well you mind operates. It impacts how strong the neural connections are and how the information integrates with all your other stored memories and knowledge. Outside of the context of learning your state is how you feel in all your life. Feeling less than good isn't nice is it? Your state impacts the people around you because it effects how you relate to them and how they will respond back.

Therefore to have the skills to evaluate your state and change it is an amazing tool to learn and master. Every aspect of your life can then be taken to a better place, IF you use these core life skills. They do take practice to become automatic and with tutoring we tune this ability.


Defining the traffic lights:
Green is for Go. Generally this is when you are resourceful, focused, conscious of your actions and thought processes. In addition for this website the green state is when you are in the learning state. Technically in neuroscience terms it is characterised by more Alpha and Theta brain wave patterns (defined more in the Learning State page). Many people confuse feeling good with the learning state (or any other label that means full neurology activation). The learning state is characterised by the whole brain and body being activated for learning and study / work activities. Typically the body will be relaxed and stress is minimised.

Specific actions have to be performed to activate the brain, mind and body. The neurology can be activated in a number of ways. This can be done with awareness to turn the neurology on like I describe in the videos by being aware of the body and feeling what is happening. Physical exercises can also be done like relaxing your eyes to go into peripheral vision or body activations such as brain-gym (educational kinesiology) exercises. Other tools can be used such as the right types of music to activate the whole brain. Taking quick breaks at the appropriate times also helps peak learning, concentration and performance. These aspects are covered in the core study skills modules. Typically one will feel relaxed and focused when in the learning state.

Just because you feel good or relaxed does not mean it's the learning state. Hence we use the state awareness process to check in and evaluate. The learning state as it is taught here also includes the nerve tissue in the body, not just the brain. With practice this whole brain and full body state can be activated at any time in any state of activity. This will enhance your performance both mentally and physically. Often this high performance state is referred to as the flow state, and when these core life skills are applied the flow can be activated by choice. Usually people only experience flow at fleeting times otherwise.


Red is for STOP.
When in the red state only limited resources are available for thinking, performing and being emotionally responsive. The extreme red state happens when people are asleep, knocked unconscious, drunk (etc), being sick or injured. Most people also go into the red traffic light awareness state when feeling a strong emotion. Typically in red a person will under function, act out bad behaviours, and be unable to listen, can't think clearly or remember easily (etc). Hence when you can choose your state and transition out of red and into at least yellow better outcomes happen because the ability to respond is higher. This is because more resources are available to the unconscious to perform its tasks.

When practiced at state changing one can then hopefully enter green in tough situations. This is how emotions are mastered, resulting in a much higher level of emotional intelligence. In regards to learning the red traffic light is defined as the brain and neurology functioning at less than 70%. Unless the green learning state is activated by whole brain learning techniques typically only half the brain (50%), the left logical side, is activated for academic learning. Right brain subjects will activate more of the brain. For example music and art is different as they activate the right hemisphere of the neocortex. Standard learning, study and educational practices cause the student to typically operate with less than 50% of their neurology operational. Just adding state awareness and the learning state we can boost that to over 90% easily.

Adding in mini breaks and other brain friendly techniques we can keep the neurology operating at over 90% for long periods. Eventually this becomes normal and being at your best becomes the standard state. Humans are creatures of habit, we can train ourselves to be optimal as a default. The quantity of neurons accessed and fired when in the red state is significantly lower. This reduces learning, ability to process answers and recall memory. Focus and motivation is also reduced. Getting out of the red traffic light state as fast as possible is desirable. Some learning, attention and environmental conditions leave a person in red permanently.

Yellow is for caution! Change my state quickly!
Living in the green, and preferably the learning state, is the best place to live from. However the yellow traffic light state is the most critical to notice. When we notice the yellow state it can usually be changed into green quite easily. Once in yellow, the semi resourceful state, it is easy to slip into red. Getting out of red is much harder than yellow. The simple state awareness exercise in the above video can often be enough to return to green. Our conscious choice to choose a better operational state or behaviour can make all the difference.

The body awareness steps I often explain in many videos (especially the animal videos) will be sufficient to take you back into green. The learning state requires a few more steps, to fully activate the correct brain activation. The trick is to remember 'what is my state'. This remembering can be improved by forming the habit of checking-in. This does take effort and determined practice. Phone or device reminders can also be very useful to prompt.

It would be amazing if teachers learned to do this to help the students stay resourceful (Teacher training / coaching is coming soon). This process can also be applied to the family setting. Family check-ins will be discussed with parents, especially those that do the parent / family coaching package of this service. The household can grow together. To embed this process is easier when people around you are also going through this new habit formation.

Painful demonstration of the State Awareness

of the Traffic Light states

This video demonstrates beautifully the importance of state awareness and how I flick from the red traffic light when I am having my ear bitten, into amber (yellow) and back into green to give a coherent video. Pinch the top part of your ear and notice how it's quite painful with little effort, that was where I was being bitten.  My state shifting is almost instantaneous from Red to orange and back to green. Because I go back into the learning state so quickly I am able to continue the complex task of making a video with wild animals. As they say in the film industry recording with babies and animals are the most challenging, wild animals are even harder to do!

You can see me monitoring the state of the wild King Parrots. The birds react instinctively to my movements, cars and people nearby. You will see me freeze at one point where I really focus on my Learning State as I can see the remaining parrot is unsettled by movement nearby. This is to help the bird settle back into its own green traffic light so it does not fly away. Tap/click the picture to watch.

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Habit formation and calibration

of your State Awareness

As one practices any task one learns and defines the nuances of the activity. For example, Roger Federer has very defined sense of how to serve in a tennis match. His state awareness skills are extremely advanced to perform at a world class level. He is aware of his mind's activity, body operation and many factors in the external environment such as his opponent's abilities. When he is ready and his state is optimal he serves to his opponent.
You will observe he performs a mini ritual in the lead up to the serve. This is his way of running through all the important aspects to be in the optimal performance state. Many top sports people have these state awareness focus rituals be that golf, cricket, 100 meter sprints or Olympic diving (etc).

The ritual or routine then becomes a habit, and further improvements can be added. Forming habits is a key part of Student Success Tutoring. The habits create success in whatever skill and ‘performance states’ they are applied to. Hence I separate out these core life skills from the specific study skills.
These core life skills are the basis of human operation. That is why I discuss the importance of state awareness and the learning state when in an emergency situation. When I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle in May 2018 my mastery of state awareness and the learning state meant I was able to be fully resourceful in an emergency. I was able to put myself into a high performance state after being hit by a car. I could have been severely harmed or killed, and even though injured I functioned optimally and calmly.

As part of the tutoring process I work to help the student, parent or teachers to calibrate their state so they can optimise themselves for different situations. This is why I advocate the success journal, and that all study or learning is structured around state awareness and the learning state. This maximises time usage, increases focus and quality learning.
Whole brain learning techniques can then be added to further assist with maximising the learning state and neural connections.

Book a session now. Free Parent & Student Action plan analysis

Individual online tutoring is limited to 16 students a week.
Book here. First call to assess outcomes is free. Wait list may apply.

Eight weekly sessions package of Academic Life Coaching:
One upfront payment of $1,160* ($145 per session) or two monthly upfront payments of $620*
Casual hourly rate: $175*