How to train your brain
Jane McGuire

How to train your brain

Our guide to brain training workshops

First published date July 15 2014 Amended date August 01 2014

Here on the Hotcourses adult learning team, we are always telling our users to expand their minds and return to learning. Yet this everyday expression got us thinking – is there a way to actually, well, expand your brain. From Sudoku to Brain Training games, in recent years we have become more aware of our brain fitness. Thousands of us spend years of our lives in the gym working on our bodies and we are now being told that training our brains is just as important, improving our memories and allowing us to work more efficiently. Therefore does the brain fit in the ‘if you don’t use it you lose it category’ after all?

With hundreds of courses available to master the techniques of mind improvement  and memory improvement, this is obviously a growing area of interest. When searching for an answer to all our questions, we came across Phil Dobson, founder of BrainWorkshops who runs courses in brain fitness after qualifying as a hypnotherapist. We spoke to Phil from his London based hypnotherapy practice and asked him to tell us a little more about his work, in order to dispel the myths behind brain training.

Our first question had to be how one becomes a brain trainer. This is obviously a question Phil has been asked a few hundred times before, telling us about his unfulfilling job in sales, his qualification in hypnotherapy and opening his own practise, ‘From there I became more involved and interested in neuroscience. I started training people about how to hypnotise themselves and this soon developed into the sort of ‘brain training’ I do now. I’ve always been fascinated by human psychology and the more I’ve learned the more interesting it has become.’ He tells us how his courses are based on research and insights from neuroscience and his students will learn to live and work more effectively, but how?


Why do I need to train my brain?

Can doing a Sudoku on the morning commute really change your life? Phil tells us, ‘you use your brain for everything you do. The best way to keep your brain young and adaptable is to challenge it with novelty. Seek out new experiences, learn new skills and embrace the unfamiliar.’ On the list of benefits of brain training are quicker reactions, more self confidence and sharper vision. Phil adds to this, ‘Improved brain fitness, brain health and improved brain function. These lead to improved mental performance, flexibility and agility, which in turn lead to improved productivity, effectiveness and all round well being.’ We can’t argue with that.


So how do I train my brain?

Although there are a multitude of apps, games and websites, we wanted to know a little more about what a brain course would entail and what it is like being a student. However, when speaking to Phil we begin to understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to brain training, his students using his workshops for a number of different reasons, ‘My students learn skills and techniques that will help them become more effective: how to improve memory and brain fitness, how to improve performance and productivity, how to become more creative and innovative, how to manage stress and improve sleep and how to get greater control over their emotions, behaviour and experience.’ His workshops provide a ‘manual to the brain’ and his students choose between public courses and private training with Phil. 

Phil describes our brains as ‘plastic’ in the ‘degree to which they can change and develop regardless of age or previous experience.’ So in other words, our brains do not have a sell by date and it’s never too late to start improving them with training. According to Phil our brains’ fitness, function and long term health is up to us, ‘You need to take responsibility for your brain’s development and realise the extent of your potential!’

Finally, we ask Phil to tell us in a sentence why he loves his job, to which he replies, ‘I love people and I love their brains, I also like the fact that knowing what I do allows me to become better at what I do. I find the more I learn about my brain and the more I apply what I know, the easier things tend to become. I also love teaching and feel very lucky to have my job!’ Phil leaves us all convinced that brain training is far more fact than fiction and really does have the power to change. Perhaps we will pick up that Sudoku in the newspaper tomorrow...


If Phil has inspired you to learn more about your brain, take a look at his specialist BrainWorkshops and get in touch with him to find out more. Alternatively, with a wide range of personal development courses available on our site, we reckon it’s about time we all start to expand our minds and learn more about ourselves. 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.