Rank #1: Stop Smoking And Boost Memory With These Step-By-Step Addiction Breakers
You know all about the dangers of smoking, right? Bronchitis, emphysema, vascular disease … Heck, the Demon Nicotine has even been linked to cancer.
But did you know that smoking also poses risks to your intelligence and memory? Some experts disagree, but common sense in combination with evidence tells us that …
Smoking Murders Your Memory!
Never fear. If this post doesn’t spook smokers out of lighting up ever again (it probably won’t), it’ll at least educate them. Plus, I’ll give you some ideas for how to quit with minimum suffering in record time. If you’re not a smoker yourself, you can at least pass the tactics on.
But if you’re one of those who prefer cocktails of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen cyanide, abandon this post right away because it’s basically a rant from a guy who cares for both you as a person AND for your mental abilities. So buckle up if you’re going to stick around, because here comes some tough love from your friendly neighborhood Warrior of the Mind.
A Brief History Of The World’s Stupidest And Stinkiest Habit
There may be earlier accounts, but history tells us that Columbus witnessed Native Americans huffing and puffing on rolled dried leaves starting in 1492. They “drank the smoke” as he put it.
Later, ships brought some of those Natives with them to Europe, leading to tobacco seeds being left at each and every port of call. The Dutch brought tobacco home from the Hottentots, the Portuguese introduced it to the Polynesians and people soon planted nicotine anywhere and everywhere it would grow.
Even Kings Failed To Stop The
Spread Of Smoking Across Their Kingdoms
We often think of royalty from the 1600s as slovenly pigs stuffing their faces with mutton and mead, but not King James. When he wasn’t busy developing the Bible, he was writing hate mail to smokers. Check out this rant in which he says smoking is …
“… A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian of the pit that is bottomless.”
King James wrote those words in 1604, but his rage was nothing compared to the Russian czar who banned smoking and said that “offenders will be sentenced to slitting of nostrils.”
Nonetheless, demand exceeded supply all over Europe, and tobacco prices soared. As a result, some people got mighty wealthy.
How Smoking Formed A
Global Superpower … Almost Overnight!
By the 17th Century, smokers had become aware of nicotine’s addictive powers. But it was already too late, and, much worse, tobacco had become central to the development of an emerging economic and political powerhouse.
For example, the tobacco industry bolstered the success of the Virginia Settlement. Farming the plant became the backbone of slavery and the southern plantation practices overall. The weed stood behind the Louisiana Purchase and is still considered America’s oldest industry (not to be mistaken with prostitution, which belongs to the entire world).
By the 1930s, smoking had entered the world of advertising. Printed images of sexy women and dapper men enticed people around the world, not to mention Hollywood movies, which were entering the era of sound. Now you could even hear the sounds of beloved celebrities puffing their way into early graves.
If You Think Trump Is An Idiot, Get A Load Of This
Some people admire Theodore Roosevelt and perhaps for good reason. But he’s the same dude who classified tobacco as an essential crop and had the stuff shipped overseas to America’s servicemen. Thanks to him, they could get their limbs blown off and memory-destroying pulmonary diseases too.
Not only that, but in 1945 alone over 267 BILLION cigarettes were sold domestically in the US. The military draft legislation was changed so that enough people could stay home to work on the tobacco farms to supply the domestic and overseas markets.
Science Fails To Come To The Rescue
Although people had long been aware of tobacco’s addictive properties, medical research didn’t pick up the issue in earnest until the 1940s. But it wouldn’t be until 1957 that a Public Health Service report called for sales restrictions, health warnings and advertising regulations.
Those not afraid to speak out against smoking gained some traction, but the tobacco industry retaliated by introducing filtered cigarettes to allay the fears of current and future smokers. Congress continued to favor the industry and to this day, celebrities romanticize the disgusting habit by either smoking themselves or pretending too. (Some actors even pick up the habit after playing the role of smokers!)
Smoking Destroys Your Body And Mind At The Same Time
Despite different conclusions, most studies link smoking to diseases that involve the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Tamper with these and your ability to concentrate and remember plummets.
Why? It’s because smoking:
- Causes peripheral blood vessels to restrict
- Reduces capillary flow
- Deposits toxic fat in blood vessels
- Prevents oxygen from reaching the heart and brain
- Decreases lung capacity and elasticity
- Lessens the amount of carbon dioxide your body needs to expel
- Lowers the ability of your macrophage cells to kill invading microbes
- … and much, much more!
And if all that wasn’t bad enough enough, these effects of smoking …
Utterly Smash Verbal Intelligence
And Intellectual Functioning!
Okay, I’m probably exaggerating, but a lot of evidence supports this claim. Sure, smoking tricks your adrenal medulla into blasting out a bit of dopamine and epinephrine, but for the average smoker who sucks in nearly half a cup of tar a year …
Smoking Is Suffocating Your
Cognitive Functioning To Death!
At this point, you might be asking …
So what? What’s so great about being intelligent and mentally capable anyway?
I’m glad you asked because intelligence and memory work together to form your entire personality. In short, you need memory and intelligence to:
- Act with purpose
- Think rationally
- Deal effectively with your circumstances and environment
I think you have to agree that ruining your memory with smoking is complete madness.
The Biggest Lie Smokers Tell Themselves
About Concentration And Memory
Of course, smokers love to claim that smoking helps them in each of these areas. But in reality, even just a few hours without nicotine has been shown to severely damage verbal and visuospatial memory. This state is called withdrawal and many nicotine addicts may need nine weeks or more without smoking to sail beyond the torrid waters of depleted intelligence.
Of course, the extent to which any individual experiences these pains depends on a lot of factors, including baseline indicators of intelligence, including:
- How much they educate themselves formally or informally
- The amount of social and cultural experiences they pursue
- Diet and other lifestyle choices
- The amount smoked
- The style of smoking (quick puffing, deep inhaling or not drawing smoke into the lungs at all)
- Other factors such as genetics, gender and even how much a person engages in random acts of generosity
All this means that …
It Only Seems Like Smoking Helps Improve Your Memory
In reality, smoking stops withdrawal from messing with your concentration and memory, specifically working memory.
1. Phonological loop
2. Visuospatial sketchpad
3. Episodic buffer
When nicotine withdrawal gets rolling, it interferes, it messes with each of these bigtime.
So even though some evidence shows that using mnemonics may combat the effects of withdrawal, you’re better off not smoking at all.
7 Super-Difficult Ways To Quit Smoking
I’m not going to sugar coat this or make elaborate promises. Getting off the Demon Nicotine ain’t easy. But as a former working hypnotists, I think these tips can help you if you want to quit.
Hypnosis, as Kreskin once defined it, is nothing more than the acceptance of a suggestion. If you take this definition to heart, then you instantly realize that we are all hypnotizing ourselves and others all the time. The real question is …
How do you get yourself to accept the suggestion not to smoke.
The answer is:
Instead, the hypnotist or self-hypnotist helps raise the ego to overcome the effects of withdrawal and resist the temptations of addiction. Hypnotists harness the power of the imagination to achieve this feat by eliciting the language of their clients, adopting their body language to create rapport and using relaxation inductions to increase trust and the acceptance of suggestions.
A hypnotist might hear that you hate spending money on cigarettes above all and then have you imagine setting stacks of cash on fire after feeling the weight of your hard-earned wealth in your hands. Or if you mention disliking wheezing and coughing, the hypnotist might help you exaggerate that suffering in your mind and then replace that experience with the bliss of physical reaction.
The hypnotists then compliments these states with ego boosting statements that help the client keep feeling empowered over the next 72 hours, which tend to be the hardest when a person quits.
2. Drink Tons Of Water And Devour Acres Of Fruit
It helps to detoxify during those first 72 hours, so many hypnotists will send you home with the instructions to keep hydrated and get your sugars from natural sources instead of candy and pastries.
You might gain a bit of weight from the fructose, but not as much as you would from refined sugars. And chocolate bars and other sweets will only make you antsy, impulsive and thereby more likely to pop a cigarette in your mouth and light up.
It might be hard sitting still, let alone getting to sleep, but with The Ultimate Sleep Remedy, you at least have a fighting chance. I can’t reproduce the entire book here, but one technique you can try is Shavasana. In its simplest form, this practice involves nothing more than laying on your back and practicing total stillness for as long as you can.
Go for a walk. Do pushups. Even just working at a standing desk provides beneficial exercise. You can also hang out with non-smokers and visit smoke-free places like art galleries and museums.
These activities follow the powerful “don’t go where it’s slippery” principle. If you make it impossible to spark a cherry, you won’t wind up inhaling junk that ruins your body and mind. It’s that simple.
5. Breathing Exercises
Lately, I’ve been using the Wim Hof Method and a few other techniques. These exercises fall under physical fitness, but belong to their own category because they strengthen your lungs, improve oxygen circulation and develop your concentration while hopefully distracting your mind from nicotine cravings.
Sit just to sit and also combine meditation with breathing exercises and even do both while walking.
7. Practice memory techniques
Although you might feel too fidgety to memorize playing cards or foreign language vocabulary (LINK 15 reasons), this technique pays off.
Because the more you experience success with mnemonics while distracted, the more successful you’ll be when using them post-addiction. That’s just a hypothesis of mine, but I think it’ll prove true. When I’ve practiced card memorization in noisy places, for example, I wind up getting crazy better results later when I do the same drills at home.
Are You Ready To Serve Your Memory By Quitting Smoking?
In sum, you can stop smoking. When you do, you’ll not only improve your physical health, but also the strength of your mind. Even better, you can use the art of memory and mnemonics to help you get through it in combination with self-hypnosis or with the guidance of a good hypnotist who doesn’t BS you about what’s really going on.
No matter how you quit, I know this general information and these tips will serve you and I look forward to hearing about your success.
In the meantime, stomp this habit out of your life and get busy using memory techniques to help keep the cravings at bay using my FREE Memory Improvement Kit starting right now.
May 12 2016
Rank #2: How To Teach Your Kids Memory Techniques
You want your children to remember what they learn, right? You’ve probably even hoped that they’d learn enough to succeed in life.
Maybe even change the world.
It’s a great aspiration. And an important one.
And yet …
Here’s Why So Few Children Fail To Make A Mark As Grownups
Think about it. Every test your child will ever take relies on memory. And every gatekeeper your child will ever pass on the way to fulfilling their dreams hinges on the ability to recall details. Thoroughly and accurately.
And since we know that the ability to succeed has everything to do with what you know (and who you remember that you know), the question is …
How do you get your children started towards a superior memory so that they can succeed?
I’m glad you asked because you’re about to find out.
The Simple Way To Use Rhymes And Your Family Home To Learn, Memorize And Recall Anything
The best memory techniques all use buildings and other fixed locations. Why? Because the human mind has the unusual ability to remember the layout out buildings. For this reason, location-based mnemonics has lasted thousands of years.
Go ahead and try it. Have everyone in your family draw a map of your home. You’ll be amazed by the accuracy each of you brings to the game.
Here’s an image of a simple drawing from a young person who did precisely this activity to give you ideas and inspire you. She took the layout of her home from the drawing stage to rebuilding this floor plan in her mind so she could memorize a poem.
The Special Structure Anyone Can Use To Learn, Memorize
And Recall Anything
Anyone of any age can build one and use it to memorize anything.
But please don’t use Memory Palaces to memorize any old thing. The trick is to use these wonderful mental structures for memorizing important information.
Not just any information. I’m talking about the kind of information that makes a direct impact on the quality of your child’s life. In the present and the future.
So location is the first power of memory. The second power of memory is association.
To use this power, you associate information with a location. And to make the information really magnetic, you create crazy images that makes it easier to recall. Usually these images will come from visual sources you already know, such as movies, paintings, famous figures and the like. You can also turbocharge the images you create by using stock images placed in the Memory Palace.
Here’s An Easy Way To See
The Second Power Of Memory In Action
Imagine that your house has five rooms. Kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom and playroom. You’ve already drawn them out and can walk in your imagination from room to room. And your child can do this too.
Next, use the following rhymes to place an imaginary object in each room.
1 is a bun
2 is a shoe
3 is a bee
4 is a door
5 is a hive
You don’t have to use these rhymes. It’s great fun to come up with your own as a family activity. But these are standard and you can find a full list of these mnemonic examples and a full explanation of this mnemonic peg system here.
But keep in mind that we’re going to take things one step further than rhyming. We’re going to combine this technique with a familiar building like your home.
Now pretend that your son or daughter needs to learn the names of the first five vertical entries on the Periodic Table of Elements. The following suggestions are examples only. The method will work best when young people come up with the images on their own.
Hydrogen goes in the first room. They see a bun saying “Hi” to a drone reading Genesis.
In the second room, they see a shoe with a huge L on it. It’s drinking tea and saying “um.” Lithium,
The third room has a bee. He’s also saying “um” while drinking soda. Sodium.
The fourth room has an enormous potato with a door from which donkeys are entering the room with small potatoes in their mouths. Potassium.
In the fifth room, we have rubidium. Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz is knocking on the hive.
You can help everyone in your family use this location and rhyme-based memory technique to learn and memorize anything. From facts and mathematical figures to foreign language vocabulary and artifacts from Ancient Egypt. Being able to recall these in a snap make a huge difference for kids in school. And bilingualism is very health for young brains.
The Minimalist Guide To Making
Memory Improvement A Family Event
If your young person is struggling to learn, retain and reproduce information, here’s how you can help. If you’ve already used your home as a Memory Palace, visit a relative or friend. Make a Memory Palace based on their home. You can literally walk the journey between the actual rooms with them, encouraging them to come up with the memorable images on their own.
You can also use a walk through a simple park, a movie theater, a church or a library. But please do start with simple structures before introducing anything more complex. Mastering simple buildings makes mastering multi-detailed environments much easier.
Teach Your Kids How To Paint Like
Picasso In Their Minds
If your child struggles with creating images to associate information with, help them to become more visual by looking at art together. If you can visit art galleries, all the better. These buildings can become Memory Palaces too.
You can also help your children become more visual by encouraging drawing more than just Memory Palaces. Characters from movies they’ve enjoyed and especially representations of people from books they’ve read about but never seen work well. They will get the visual imagination flowing.
It’s also useful to look at an image and then have your child “remake” the image in their imagination. Seeing in the mind is a skill you can develop over time and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Mentally “copying” the great masters is perfectly fine. Great and original artists do it all the time.
Use World Class Examples To Inspire Your Child To Memorize
One way to make these memory skills more interesting to young people is to tell them the story of their origin in Ancient Greece. Simonides of Ceos was giving a speech at a banquet when the building collapsed. Because he had memorized where everyone was using the location principle, he could help families identify their loved ones.
The Simonides story also perfectly demonstrates the principles of exaggerated imagery along with location. The vibrant image of a building collapsing is just of the reasons the story has lasted the centuries. The image is as hard to forget as is the promise of near-miraculous memory ability.
Your kids will also find Matteo Ricci‘s life as an international mnemonist inspiring. He sailed from Italy to China and could memorize books forwards and backward. His life included a great deal of drama and even tragedy.
You can also share with them the stories of how ordinary people have learned memory techniques and used them to accomplish extraordinary feats. Read Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein for a particularly compelling story to pass on.
You can also listen to the Magnetic Memory Method interviews with Dave Farrow, Mark Channon and Alex Mullen for many inspiring stories of ordinary people learning memory techniques and accomplishing great things for themselves and others. Nelson Dellis, for example, has done a lot for Alzheimer’s research and you can contribute to it by taking his Extreme Memory Challenge.
Show All Children The True Path To Memory Mastery
With One Simple Tool
We double what we’ve learned every time we teach. Teaching is the simplest tool for learning something better ever invented. All you need to do is learn something and then share what you’ve learned. Merely by doing this you will have learned it better yourself. It’s also great memory exercise.
Encourage your child to share what they’ve learned with others so that they absorb the skills with greater depth. Teaching others also follows the principle of contribution. Your child feels like she or he has given something great and also made the world a better place. Reciprocity will be a natural result.
You can also ask your child to teach you what they’ve learned directly from their memory. Ask them to “decode” the images they’ve created without revealing them. Focus on the core information first and then share the weird images if you wish.
At the end of the day, these images are nothing more than training wheels on a bike. They prompt or trigger the target information. But it’s the memorized information they should reproduce first.
Having your child repeat what they’ve memorized at home also gives them practice in a low-stress environment. (Your home is low-stress, isn’t it?) That way, when the time to take a test arrives, they can access those comfortable feelings about memory created at home. This certainty will help them cope with the pressure of performance at school. Imagination and memory abilities soar much higher when we’re relaxed.
Are Memory Techniques The Ultimate Learning Solution?
Yes and no. Memory techniques are a supplement to how schools teach, not a replacement. Some kids take to it more than others and for some, taking pleasure in the technique is necessary. But if the images are sufficiently funny and fascinating, it’s hard to imagine the Magnetic Memory Method as boring.
As a final tip, avoid perfection. Just have fun with the art of memory and let go of the outcome. At its core, all we’re doing is looking at information that needs to be learned and retained in a new and likely more interesting way.
But it’s important not to associate this technique with the same pain and frustration given to rote learning. Your child will always be learning the information, but if something truly won’t stick, move on and come back to it. You increase the pleasure and chances of success by not forcing it.
And if you as a parent would like more information about using Memory Palaces to learn and memorize information that can make a positive difference in your life, I’ve got a Free Memory Improvement kit for you. It comes with four free videos and will teach you everything you need to know about improving the memory of everyone in your family.
So what do you say? Are you ready to start changing the world? All it takes is teaching memory skills to one young mind at a time.
Mar 09 2016
Rank #3: 3 Powerful Memory Training Techniques From Around The World (Part 1)
Memory training techniques involve more than just training. The use of mnemonics is an ancient art, craft and science practiced around the world.
And it’s not new. People have been training their memory for thousands of years.
The best part?
They’ve left many wonderful tips we can use to learn, memorize and recall more information in ways that are fast, easy and fun.
Whether we’re talking about Matteo Ricci’s recipe to overcome forgetfulness or French scholar Aimé Paris’ Mnemonic Major System, strengthening the cerebral muscles of memory has mattered to people across time and around the world.
In fact, there are numerous techniques used worldwide by memory champions as well as amateurs to train their brain.
The Most Common Question About Memory Training Techniques In The World
The question is:
These are good questions and I believe everyone should expose themselves to as many memory experts as possible.
But here’s the deal…
Like honing any other skill or strengthening your body’s core muscles, hacking your brain to remember anything takes time and practice.
It is not difficult to build a better brain, but you must be sure which memory workouts will train it better to help you achieve particular learning outcomes.
Before you start reading and executing different memory training techniques practiced around the world, take a quick look at this video. It will introduce you to some powerful prehistoric memory techniques you can use now that Lynne Kelly put together for us in her book, The Memory Code.
Why Anyone Can Be A Memory Champ, Even If They Have Never Had Formal Memory Training
According to a study published in March 2017, anyone can reshape their brain’s networks by using the same tricks as the world’s top memory champions.
To understand how memory athletes remember huge strings of information, researchers recruited 23 of the world’s top-ranked memory champions. They compared the brain scans of these memory champions with those of people who had never practiced memory techniques at all.
The scans revealed that memory athletes’ brains were not built differently from yours or mine. Far from it.
These scientists did find something distinctive.
The champions’ brain showed unique patterns activity in regions that involved memory and cognition.
The researchers then put some of the rookies through a memory training program and observed how their brains changed with exercise.
The more the newcomers practiced the memory training techniques, the more their brain activity started to resemble the brains of memory athletes.
Six Weeks Or Less To A Measurable Increase In Brain Power?
You bet. In fact:
It took only six weeks for the rookies who had never used memory techniques before to show an increase in brain power.
“These really incredible memory feats … are not some form of inborn talent. It’s really just training”. This is from Martin Dresler, a neuroscientist at Radboud University in the Netherlands and the lead author of the study.
And what these findings mean is that anything these people can accomplish in terms of brain fitness, you can do too.
Travel Back In Time:
Important People In the History of
The Major Memory Method
Let’s start with some history.
Remember Monsieur Paris?
He’s the French scholar we talked about earlier.
(If you had to scroll up to check out what we had said about Paris, maybe you need a quick boost of these vitamins for memory improvement.)
Paris was the first person to publish a version of the mnemonic Major Method in its modern form that is used by memory experts.
However, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Hérigone is said to have devised the earliest known version of the major system. Herigone apparently used both consonants and vowels in Latin and French.
What’s the real story?
Watch this video for more and a free memory improvement exercise:
As complex as the history of memory techniques may be, here’s something about which most memory historians agree:
The Major Method for memorizing numbers has its roots in the ancient Greek memory tradition. This is a tradition that combined strategic, systematic thinking with strong guidance from the larger guiding principles of memory.
And using the Major Method, numbers are converted into consonant sounds and then developed into Magnetic words by adding vowels.
Oh, you can make any kind of words if you wish, but it’s attention to involving as many of the Magnetic Modes as possible that will make these words impossible to forget.
What Are The Magnetic Modes Of Memory?
The Magnetic Modes come into play whenever you combine a dedicated Memory Palace with associative, Magnetic Imagery. You use both of these tools to create links between information you already know, with new information you’d like to remember.
Your Magnetic Modes are based in brain science, and easily tapped when the Magnetic Images you create in your Memory Palaces are:
For more information on how all this works, please take my free course:
Why The Major Method Is The Most Popular Memory Technique
The answer is simple:
This memory training system, once you’ve practiced it, will help you remember short sequences of digits like telephone numbers or historic dates.
You can also use it to remember long sequences of numbers like Pi, or to help you memorize a deck of cards as an alternative memory improvement exercises based on annoying apps.
Plus, the Major Method is just plain easy.
Because, like most memory techniques, the Major Method works on the principle that the human brain remembers images far more easily than plain numerals.
So now that you know the most popular memory athlete technique, let’s start our two part series on different memory techniques used around the world and the people who use them.
Memory Techniques Around The World (Part 1)
Different countries hold different kinds of memory championships.
Sure, they might use different rules and offer different prizes. But at the end of the day, these are the competitive meetings where mind athletes of every stripe compete with each other to prove the superiority of their cognitive prowess.
While there are no memory athlete techniques unique to any given country, several mnemonists from various regions have modified ancient mnemonic techniques to perfect memory training exercises for professionals and amateurs alike.
Ready to take a look?
1. China: Ming Mnemonics To Memorize
Reams Of Classical Poetry
In the 16th Century an Italian Jesuit priest became the first westerner to pass China’s highest civil service exams.
Why is this relevant?
The exam involved memorizing reams of classical poetry – a task that only 1% of people who took the test were able to perform successfully.
Yet, Ricci passed these exams after only 10 years, despite not having spoken any Chinese before.
How did he do that?
Ricci did it with the help of the Memory Palace technique.
But more than just use the techniques personally, get this:
As Jonathan D. Spence writes in The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci:
“…Ricci taught the Chinese how to build a Memory Palace”.
Why The Memory Palace Is Better Than Rote Learning
During that time, the Chinese had their own diligent study methods that used repetition and recitation as memory aides. This was coupled with mnemonic poems and rhyming jingles that were part of the traditional Chinese memory practice.
“To everything that we wish to remember, we should give an image; and to every one of these images we should assign a position where it can repose peacefully until we are ready to reclaim it by an act of memory,” wrote Ricci in his Treatise on Mnemonic Arts.
Ricci suggested 3 locations for these “mental” buildings – they could be based on real buildings one has seen, they could be imaginary locations or a mix of both.
Ricci’s memory training techniques helps with memorizing entire books and large volumes of vocabulary.
He also developed a means for memorizing how to write in Chinese.
Memory champions who participate in China’s popular reality and talent show – The Brain – have used Memory Palaces (probably evolved versions of Ricci’s system) to memorize decks of cards or information about airline flights.
In each episode, seven contestants must perform mental challenges like memorizing the names and birthdays of over 900 infants or solving a series of Rubik’s Cube completely blindfolded in under five minutes.
For more, check out this video of the first episode of Season 1 of The Brain:
How To Memorize A Deck Of Cards Chinese Style – Fast!
Want to know what system Chinese mnemonist Wang Feng uses to memorize a deck of cards?
Feng, who is two-time winner of the World Memory Championships, uses a technique similar to Ricci’s to exploit the brain’s natural ability to memorize images and locations.
To memorize the order of a deck of cards, Feng first gives each card a two digit number. Next he turns that number into an image and then puts that image in familiar location – from where he can retrieve it easily when needed.
Notice the similarity with Ricci’s Memory Palace system?
Now that you know it, you toocan modify Ricci’s system to build your own memory training course (like making a gym in your own mind for mental fitness). Or you can create Memory Palaces the Magnetic Memory Method way.
Ultimately, I believe the Magnetic Memory Method approach is better for most learners.
Why? Because it not only helps you remember the information faster, but also helps you get predictable and reliable permanence that grows in strength with practice.
But more about that later. Let’s turn now to:
2. Mongolia: The Genghis Khan Way To Brain Strength
The founder of the Mongol Empire – Genghis Khan – would probably be delighted to know that in some of the most recent world memory statistics, ten of the top 50 people are his descendants!
Mongolia – home to one of the world’s last nomadic cultures – wants to be a titan in the obscure world of mental athletics and is using mental athletics as a nation building exercise.
At the Mongolian Intellectual Academy, students are taught to flawlessly remember the Periodic Table of Elements and other brain feats by using the same principles that govern the Memory Palace technique – linking unfamiliar words and numbers to familiar mental images or stories that can be ingrained in a person’s long-term memory.
The teacher points to the periodic table and moves through the first column turning letters and numbers into vivid and outrageous images. The visuals are accompanied by an engaging story that offers a way to remember the name of the element, its atomic number and its atomic mass.
When asked to recall the period table memorized using this mnemonic technique, there are virtually no errors!
Impressive accuracy aside, the Mongolian team still faced tough competition in the 2015 Extreme Memory Tournament.
The opponents were:
Simon Reinhard, the world’s fastest card memorizer and the reigning XMT Champion; and Alex Mullen, the 2015 World Memory Champion.
Despite the steep competition, using memory palace training exercises paid off for 17-year-old first-time competitor Enhkjin Tumur, who set a tournament record by recalling 30 images in 14.4 seconds.
3. Canada: A Hunter-Gatherer Memory Technique
Two time Guinness World Record holder for being able to memorize 59 decks of cards in order, Dave Farrow, is a Canadian who has either invented or improved some memory training techniques to remember information and recall them with ease.
One method that Farrow uses is the Peg System – where you memorize a list of information by linking or pegging them with words or numbers you already know.
You literally hang information on a number.
This is what Farrow says about his memory technique:
“Memory techniques work by taking advantage of a natural mechanism in the brain that we all have that allows us to memorize information without any repetition. It’s a hunter-gatherer fight or flight mechanism—if you needed repetition to remember where you saw that predator, you would not be alive anymore. What I do and what I teach people how to do is trick the brain into triggering that mechanism at will.”
How To Use Colors To Remember Numbers
Another method I’ve heard Farrow talk about is sometimes called the Alpha Numeric Spectrum system. This approach uses numerical and phonetic codes to memorize numbers and recall them with ease. It uses an arrangement like this (you can create your own version):
1 = red
2 = orange
3 = yellow
4 = green
5 = blue
6 = purple
7 = brown
8 = silver
9 = gold
0 = black
Why Are There So Many Memory Training Techniques?
As we come to the end of this first part of a two part series on memory training techniques around the world, you might be wondering…
How on earth did so many memory techniques proliferate.
Well, the truth is that there really aren’t that many differences between how memory techniques have been used around the world.
Rather, there exists a limited set of varied approaches that different people use according to their learning styles.
Remember when we talked about the Magnetic Modes above?
Well, it turns out that the precise approach a person using memory training techniques chooses has a lot to do with how the Magnetic Modes match up with their learning style.
But if one important aspect binds them all together, it is the use of spatial memory to create Memory Palaces.
So come back next week for the second part to see how memory training techniques work in Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA. There are more tips and surprises that you can use to help guide your practice.
Jan 04 2018
Rank #4: How To Combine Mind Mapping And Memory Palaces With Phil Chambers
You’ve heard about Mind Mapping and Memory Palaces, right?
Well, if you’re anything like the hundreds of people who have emailed me about it, you’ve probably wondered …
“Can I bring Mind Mapping and the Memory Palace together?”
To help me answer the question, I asked the reigning World Mind Mapping champion Phil Chambers to talk about Mind Mapping and how to bring this creativity, memory and learning tool together with a Memory Palace.
Turns out that we had a lot more than just that to talk about. Tune in to this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast and learn all about.
How To Combine Mind Mapping And
Memory Palaces With Phil Chambers
⊕ The techniques Phil uses in his personal daily memory practice.
⊕ How to capture and store ideas using memory techniques – even when you’re driving.
⊕ The number-rhyme technique to take action on to-do list items. (Not to be mistaken for the Major Method/Major System.)
⊕ The perfect Mind Mapping definition and where to learn more about mind mapping techniques
⊕ Why there are always new things to explore in the world of memory techniques. Once you start using them, you will never cap out on new angles to explore and increase your skills.
⊕ The difference between semantic memory and episode memory and how using the journey method capitalizes on the power of both. This is the most “natural” way to use your memory.
Hanging out with Phil Chambers and Tony Buzan
⊕ The reasons why memory competition skills translate directly into every day memory needs we all face.
⊕ Why the principles behind Mind Mapping never changes, but Mind Mapping software continues bring new enhancements to the art and craft of this thinking, learning and planning tool.
⊕ Details on how to bring Mind Mapping together with the Memory Palace technique.
⊕ Why and how Mind Mapping uses all of the classic memory techniques.
⊕ The major criticism about memory techniques as regurgitation of knowledge and not learning – and why it’s misguided.
⊕ Why Phil’s title as a World Mind Mapping champion is up for grabs and exactly how to take his title.
⊕ The exact criteria by which world class Mind Mapping is judged.
⊕ Why you should never worry about your artistic ability when creating Mind Maps.
⊕ Phil’s Mind Mapping examples of how to schedule your week and get more done.
⊕ How Mind Mapping your daily schedule gives you many more details than a to-do list. Not only that, but you’ll often be able to double your efforts in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise seen on a page with linear notes.
Phil Chamber’s website (where you can subscribe to his newsletter!)
Dec 08 2016
Rank #5: The Only 4 Memory Improvement Systems You Need
I’m a pretty calm and relaxed guy.
But if there’s one word related to memory improvement that drives me bonkers, it’s “system.”
And you’ve probably heard me talk all about why I don’t teach a comprehensive memory system like some of the others on the market.
Nothing about my refusal to offer a memory improvement system is ever going to change.
The truth, reality and scientifically demonstrated fact about your memory is this:
No One On Planet Earth Can Give You A
Memory Improvement System!
Oh, but they’ll promise, which is exactly why I created this Memory Training Consumer Awareness Guide.
(Side note: Can you believe that’s way back to Episode 9 of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast! Thanks to your support, you can click the audio above to listen to this post as episode 180!)
Here’s The Bloody Truth No One Else Will Tell You
Although you do need memory systems of a sort, YOU need to learn how to create them.
And then you need to follow through and actually create them.
That’s right. YOU.
And if you do it right, you’ll discover that you, like me, will also think about the word “system” very differently.
And here’s the very good news:
Right Thinking About Memory Systems Will Solve
All Your Memory Problems And Pains – FAST!
And once you’ve come to share my admittedly biased (but always Magnetic) opinion that the only memory systems that matter are the ones you create yourself …
You’ll be a master of your memory.
The only question is …
What are these memory systems that you need so badly?
I’m glad you asked.
There are just 4.
They’re simple to understand, fast to get in place for yourself and super-easy to use.
It all begins with …
#1: A Location-based Mnemonic System
Not such a sexy term, is it?
Well, don’t fret. It has many other names.
Looked at from the top, there are oodles of mnemonics out there, ranging from rhyming to creating crazy images that you let float in the void of your mind.
Many people experience all kinds of success with the different kinds of mnemonics to choose from.
But most people can’t just create a mnemonic and then toss it out into the void of their mind.
They need to connect their Magnetic Associations to something in the world.
Like a location.
There are other kinds of locations that are more abstract, like Virtual Memory Palaces, but here’s the truth:
Keeping It Concrete And Real Works Best For
The Vast Majority Of People
And that’s why having a system for creating Memory Palaces is so powerful.
You can create them strategically by building up a storehouse in advance.
Or you can create Impromptu Memory Palaces anywhere, at any time, completely on the fly.
The trick is to know how to create them.
And know how to create them well.
If you haven’t taken the Magnetic Memory Method free video course, it’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
(Hint: Just click that big subway image above or subscribe above and I’ll send you this course for FREE.)
And then, Bang Presto!
You’ll be a Master of the first memory system you need to succeed! Just make sure you ground it on a memory method.
#2: You Need An Encoding System
Once you’ve got a reliable way of creating the Memory Palaces you need, you next need a systematic way to encode the information you want to learn.
It helps if you’ve got that information organized. That way you can quickly “map” it onto any Memory Palace.
Luckily, a lot of information comes pre-organized for us, so you can easily use the How to Memorize A Textbook training to tap into that raw power.
And have a goal. An outcome. A realistic target that you actually want to hit.
From there, you just need to be able to look at a piece of information and associate it with something else.
Ideally that “something else” should hit a number of characteristics.
It should be:
- Deeply familiar
- Capable of interaction
And don’t worry if you’re not a visual person (#noexcuses). Here’s the final word on that strange objection to using memory techniques:
Example of an image that fits all the characteristics defined above?
Well, let’s take Homer Simpson.
Are you deeply familiar with him?
I sure am. He’s got the world’s worst memory, after all:
But if you’re not familiar with Homer, you can probably name some other cartoon character. Bugs Bunny, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Fred Flinstone …
The options are endless.
And if that character, actor, politician, musician or even your least favorite aunt can move around in space (such as within a Memory Palace) …
You can create a system for pumping out oodles of characters like these to help you encode information you don’t know with information you already do.
You see, it’s association that makes things more memorable.
And you can develop a system for making associations very fast.
You’ve just get to set aside any fear that you can’t do it and get started doing it.
That’s the secret of success.
#3: A Decoding System
You know, there are people out there willing to argue about whether students who use memory techniques spend too little time on encoding or decoding.
The argument is a waste of time!
What matters is how much time YOU spend on it relative to the results YOU want to experience.
And so once you’ve started using the encoding system I’d love to teach you to create for yourself, you can then create a decoding system.
As you work with these two systems, you’ll soon learn about your precise needs.
You’ll discover where our strengths lie and what you can do to “bulk up” any memory muscles that might need a bit more grit.
And that comes from just showing up mentally in one of your Memory Palaces.
Looking around at the images you encoded there and then decoding them.
In other words, if Homer Simpson is pounding the snot out of Bugs Bunny …
Why on earth did you choose those images to associate with what information?
Ask the right questions like Sherlock Holmes and you’ll become so good at decoding the little mysteries you’ve left in your own head …
You’ll soon be in danger of never forgetting any information again!
But don’t worry. That won’t amount to photographic memory.
There’s no such thing and because you created these memory systems, YOU will always be in control.
Unless, of course, you don’t have …
#4: A System For Maintaining A Healthy Brain
Far too many people abuse their brains.
Couch potato lifestyle.
Ironically, even with all that negative abuse of your brain and body going on … mnemonics will still help.
But you know, the beauty of memory techniques working under adverse conditions aside …
The real glory comes from how great it feels to live in an optimized brain and body.
The kind of place that the human being truly can grow and thrive.
And so the success of the other three systems truly does rest on what you do to take care of your brain.
Because those other systems you create?
They LIVE in your brain.
And you have the choice to create them on shaky ground or steadfast bedrock.
If you want to get started helping your brain right away, here’s my go-to list of Foods That Improve Memory.
They’re all super-tasty.
And your brain will love you for eating them.
No Use Hoping, Wishing And Praying
I sometimes hear from people who say they “hope” these memory techniques I teach will work for them.
That’s not the way this game works.
That’s like buying a piano and saying, “I hope one day this piano will play me.”
The way memory techniques work is that you learn how to create your own memory systems.
Then you fuel those systems with information you want to remember.
Along the way, you learn to become a great master of those systems.
And because you’re the one who built them, you own them.
That means all the profit of knowledge, fluency in languages and time-saved because you know all your passwords and bank account numbers goes directly to you.
The Boss. Of Your Own Head.
What do you think?
Could you possibly learn to create and maintain 4 simple systems?
To put it another way … If I were the Morpheus of Memory …
Could you be the One?
Jul 06 2017
Rank #6: Extreme Memory Improvement With Memory Champion Nelson Dellis
This Man Shows You How To Unlock The Extreme Power Of Your Memory
I thought you might be.
Not only does Nelson use his memory talents to create good in the world, he’s also on a mission to help and inspire you to do the same.
Because the fact of the matter is, when you have improved memory skills, you won’t be able to stop yourself from contributing to the world at a higher level.
Just remember …
With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility
Please enjoy this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast by downloading the MP3 and listening to it. You’ll find the full transcript down below with some links throughout to help continue your education into the world of Extreme Memory Improvement.
Let’s get started and feel free to download the entire transcript as a PDF to your desktop for future reference.
Anthony: Nelson, it’s great to be able to speak with you. I’ve been following some of the things you’ve been doing for quite some time. Maybe, just for people who don’t know you, give a brief overview of what got you interested in memory and how you came to achieve what you’ve done and take it to the level of basically bringing social good out of the achievements you’ve had with memory.
Nelson: Yeah, you know this all started back when my grandmother was struggling with Alzheimer’s as she lived in Europe. I wouldn’t see her all the time but I think that made a bigger impression on me because I would go visit every six months to a year and she had drastically changed, deteriorated immensely. That made a big imprint on me. Then she passed away the summer of 2009.
At that point, I had kind of dabbled in memory. I decided to take what I had read about and really drive it home and see if I could, at a young build a strong memory, a healthy brain, and I set the goal of myself winning the memory championship. That seemed like a good milestone to try to get to and to judge, test, and base all of my training scores on. I did, and I got very good at it and all motivated by my progress and eventually I ended up winning the U.S. Memory Championship four times. That’s now what I do. I teach people how to unlock their memories.
Anthony: That’s very cool and you know one of the things that is so extraordinary is that you also turn it into social good, which we’ll talk about. Talk a little bit about the book that you’re working on and who it is for and why developing memory abilities is so important for the audience that you’re creating it for.
What If Memorizing Could Be The Most Exciting Activity In The World?
Nelson: You know I still get a lot of people who approach me and talk about their father, their mother, or grandmother has early onset or has Alzheimer’s, and they ask me if it’s something that I can train their parents to improve their memory. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that. In my opinion, I think learning these memory techniques is a habit thing. You’ve got to learn it, I think, at an early age. That is something that just sticks with you.
When you go into your higher education, you already know how to memorize. It is a skill that you were given in school. Right now, obviously, you see if you have a class or a teacher who gives you tips on how to improve your memory you just do it. Memorize this song. You go home. You struggle with it. You repeat it over and over and then you come back and you’re excited and it’s the most frustrating process.
What if you lived in an age where your teachers actually had a class or spent some time teaching you memory techniques at a young age? When it would come to that poem or med school textbook that you’ve got memorize, you would have some toolbox in your brain to figure that out faster and more efficiently. I’ve been working on a book. I actually wrote a book, it’s not published yet for normal people of normal age.
The one I’m really excited about is this one I’ve been working on for kids which is teaching them memory techniques at a very young age. It’s geared towards a first grader in a picture book style. Because I feel like if you can get that in the head of a kid who already has a fantastic imagination and memory, that those things could stick with them and help them be successful throughout life.
Anthony: I think that’s fundamental because often adults feel that they have lost their creativity somehow. It’s pounded out of them through work or whatever the case may be. How do you think the people could resuscitate creativity if they felt that they have lost it?
The Truth About Memory Techniques And Creativity
Nelson: I know that feeling. I have felt it myself over the years. A lot of people tell me creativity is hard for me. It is hard for me to do these techniques, for example, which take a lot of creativity and imagination, but I honestly believe that anybody can do this. If you’re not good at, or if you think you’re not good at being creative, I think it’s one of those things it is practice.
I was always pretty good. I was very artistic, but I would still say I’m not the most creative person. I knew a lot of people who were a lot more creative than me. When I first heard about these techniques, a little bit skeptical and maybe thought okay this might not be up my alley or something that I might be good at, but with all the practice I’ve done, yeah, I’m practicing memory techniques, but for sure I’m also practicing creativity techniques. My mind is, I feel now, way more creative than it was six or seven years ago when I started this.
Anthony: I’m curious about your process if we can talk shop a little bit. One of those issues really is being creative. I’ve always thought that, and I encountered this in Harry Lorayne is you’re just doing associations. At so many levels, creativity really isn’t the issue. It’s more of being able to pool associations together so like famous actors or politicians or football players or whatever. I’m just curious to what extent you rely on information that you already know like pop culture images, or whatever the case may be, as opposed to things you invent on the fly or fantasy images that are not really reality so to speak.
Nelson: Well, when I train for these memory competitions there’s a few events. One of them is the deck of cards. How fast can you memorize them? They give you a massive number and you’ve got five minutes to memorize as much of it as you can. For things like that, I have systems where they are already set out. I sat down one day and decided to give each three-digit number 000 to 999 a specific person.
When I came up with that list and when I use it, it’s all celebrities, fictional cartoon characters from books, shows, people, friends that I know. They’re all associations to things that I already know. There are other events where you have to kind of make stuff up on the fly, for example, a list of words or names. Most of that is where you have to be very creative because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
You’ve got to come up with the pictures, but what I do is I’ll look at a pair of words or a name and a last name, and I’ll come up with that association to something I know but on the fly. If I can’t, then I break it down into something smaller that is recognizable. That’s always the process is to break it into something I know. It’s still a creative process whether you already have associations to things or not because you still have to interweave those images with, for example, a Memory Palace or some narrative that is totally make believe.
Why You Should Go Climb A Mountain If You Want To Find More Memory Palaces
Anthony: To what extent do you prefer Memory Palaces based on real locations you’ve actually visited to just made up Memory Palaces, or even based on places that exist but you’ve never been to.
Nelson: Right. I know some people who do all those that you mentioned. I’m more of the real places that I’ve been to and had a memorable experience there. To me, I love going to these places. I climbed Everest a few years ago, and I have a Memory Palace where I’m on the mountain going through base camp and the higher camps and all that. I love the fact that when I train I get to go to that place. I think that’s very important at least for me to make my memories, when I memorize stuff, that much more memorable. I do know some people who use video game settings or even fictional rooms. They maybe design them on their computer or draw it or whatever. It is not a real place but it works.
Anthony: One question a lot of people have is can you reuse a Memory Palace and what’s your experience with that?
Nelson: When I’m training, I do multiple decks a day so I’ve got to have a large collection of Memory Palaces. If I were to have just one and I use it over and over and over again, I’m going to get some echoes and some confusion. I’m sure if you practice, you could probably eliminate some of that. I like to have fresh Memory Palaces come competition time. I’ll use a few and then leave those alone for a few days while I use other ones and then cycle back to them so that they empty themselves out.
That being said, if I have something that I want to memorize forever so this is what I’m talking about for training is temporary. I’m memorize a deck of cards, I recite it and then I don’t really care to keep that particular deck of cards any longer. It’s meaningless almost. That’s why I cycle through them. If it is some trivia set or something for school or something really important that I want to keep forever, then I typically take or design or find a Memory Palace specifically for that information and I use it only for that. I would never tape over it. I’ll just use it as this hard drive, external hard drive, if you will, to store that piece of information.
Anthony: How often do you feel you need to revisit or rehearse that information or to keep it fresh and overcome the forgetting curve?
Nelson: You know, probably when you start out review is essential frequently, but over time it’s something I – maybe every six months I’ll go back and check it out. If there are gaps in it, I can go back and kind of relearn it just to solidify it.
Why The Real Magic Of Memory Is In Keeping It Real
Anthony: Do you ever experiment with adding a condition to a Memory Palace so you can reuse it? I’m sure you are familiar with the procedure of taking an original Memory Palace and then having a version made out of ice, a version made out of wood, grass, or maybe there would be a blue version, a red version and a yellow version. You ever mess around with that stuff?
Nelson: Yeah, I’ve heard of that. More like you make it big or you imagine yourself miniature inside of it or something. I’ve heard of that. I’ve never actually tried it. I don’t know. I just like to do it as real as the place is.
Anthony: Right, that’s exactly how I like to work as well. One thing too, just if we can be nerdy about this a little bit more, I’m curious do you see yourself walking through the Memory Palace? Do you have a first person viewpoint or is it like a bird’s eye view of a blueprint? How is it working for you, or do you do all three in different situations?
Nelson: I’m not there. I guess its first person but looking at a location in this Memory Palace and something is happening there. It’s not like it’s me seeing it. It’s just like a security camera.
Anthony: Yeah, that’s cool. I mean that is just one question that I get again and again is how that people are supposed to navigate it and how they’re supposed to see it. I often try to encourage them to not see it at all but rather think of it as a star in a constellation that you’ve carefully crafted and reduce the reconstruction of the Memory Palace to the bare minimum so you can focus on those weird and crazy images that you’ve put there.
Nelson: Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. I don’t really think about whether I see it or who is seeing it or what angle it is. It’s just I just think of that slot, I create the image, and I move along.
How To Snag Anything You Want To Memorize By Associating It With Feelings
Anthony: That must be important for speed since you’re often engaging in speed drills.
Nelson: Yeah, when you first start out you linger and you make sure you have it in your head, but as you try to cut down your times to get faster at this process you really have to, like you said, cut these images down to their bare minimum where it’s almost just a fleeting part of that image. We were talking about it last week. There was a UK Championship and some of us were saying that it’s almost a feeling. When you get fast at it, and that’s honestly, we go really fast and sometimes we forget things.
When you have a really good run through say a deck of cards and it’s fast, what you’ll find is like the images that you were picturing were just all feeling. There’s my dad at this location. It’s not him per se at this point. It’s the essence of him or I guess how he makes me feel when he’s in my presence. Whatever, but he’s there. Which is interesting because when I first tell somebody how to do this technique, I tell them to sit there, close their eyes, really imagine your dad, if that’s what you’re picturing, his hair, how he smells, how he talks, all these little details to make that image memorable. Once you get faster at it, you’ve got to cut some of that out and really just cling on to the things that are what make it stick.
Anthony: One of the things that I think pushes people away from these extraordinary techniques is the element of let’s call it rigorous cartoon violence. To what extent do you find that’s necessary or are you able to use softer, gentler imagery to trigger the target information.
How To Safely Use Your Taboos For Extreme Memory Boosts
Nelson: Yeah, it’s funny. I did a talk once, and I feel like a lot of my images are violent/sexual. I’m not a violent person by nature but my images they tend to be. I was leading an audience through an example and one woman just couldn’t get it, and she was like I just can’t picture gruesome things. I just can’t do it. What she did from then on, she was a very spiritual person, she kind of related it all back to religion and that seemed to work for her.
What I pull from that is that everybody’s minds are different. I often encourage that you should go for pictures that are bizarre and silly, over the top and if you can, sexual or gruesome, grotesque in nature just because those stick because of them being so out there and loud. For me, I think that’s an important part. For numbers and cards, I have actions that are violent or sexual for sure.
Anthony: But you still manage to be a good citizen of the planet?
Nelson: Yeah, I’ve heard people say I don’t want to do that because I feel like it will take over my mind and I’m going to become a bad person, but that never happens.
Is Every School In The World Evil For Not Teaching Memory Techniques To Children?
Anthony: Going back to the book for young people and the issue of getting them young to at least have exposure to these techniques, a lot of people ask me and have probably asked you. It’s one of the biggest questions. Why aren’t these memory techniques taught in school? It’s really easy to fall back on the idea, and there’s probably a truth to the idea, that we are stuck in a Victorian education system that was designed to create obedient factory workers and so forth. What’s you’re take on it?
Nelson: It’s interesting because on the flip side every time I go up to a school or university and I demonstrate or I talk to someone who has seen what I can do and they want me to come talk about it at the school, there’s always an excitement for it. They can’t believe it’s not in their school, that kids don’t know about.
But then what happens is, we get down the road, conversations, I do a few little talks and there’s times maybe working together involving these techniques into the curriculum and then it falls flat. I don’t understand it. It recurs a lot.
It’s just a funny thing. I guess memory because it’s so abstract I guess in a way and it’s not as tangible as say math. You can write your solutions on the board and then the work can stepped out. Whereas memory is very – everybody like I was talking about before is very different. You can’t really see how another student is memorizing. You guide them and hope that they’re following along.
I don’t know if that’s the reason why it still hasn’t caught on. I’ve been at this for a number of years and I’ve had so many people interested and promises and ideas and they just – some have gone through of course but not as many as I would like.
You know at first I did this just because it was a personal thing. I wanted to improve my memory and my brain health. Then I realized it’s a bit hard to train when you don’t have kind of the end goal. With memory improvement, if I want to have a competition what am I really training for? Yeah to improve my mind, fine, but I’m a very quantities person so how do you measure that. When is it good enough? To be honest, I don’t know actually have the answer. But at least with the memory championships I knew numbers and times that I had to achieve in order to be competitive for the title. That kept me very motivated in terms of driving me to compete.
Why Advanced Memory Skills Are The Best Addiction You’ll Never Want To Kick
The thing is this stuff is so addicting. Once you realize you have this power to memorize more than you ever thought you could, and then you train and get even faster it, it’s a hard thing to let go of and then when you see other people in your circle, your memory circle improving you want to stay up with them especially when you are already at the top. That’s my problem right now. I won it four times, and I keep saying I’m going to stop because I don’t want to end up losing. I always wrestled with that problem. Do I keep training? And if I do, I’ve got to train harder because the competitive levels keep rising versus just calling it quits. I’m just doing it for myself.
Anthony: Have you ever plateued?
Nelson: Oh yeah, I’m at a pretty big plateau or I have been this past two years. I think a lot of it has to do with difference in motivation from previous years. Whereas before I never won, I wanted to win, and then I won. I wanted to win again and then I lost the next year so I wanted to come and win that time. Now it’s like okay four is a good number. Why would five be any better? Do I really have to train that hard anymore? When you have that feeling that’s when you plateau. You’re not really trying to find new avenues to get better because where you’re at has been good enough. I don’t know how I won the U.S. Championship this year because – well I did very well in the names, but something I used to be the best at which is numbers and cards I was okay. Lance Tschirhart, another American, he broke the U.S. record 29 seconds in cards which is crazy. I’ve done that once in training. Then 360 digits, I’ve done that in training but never in competition. I need to push forward to break this plateau. I’m kind of where I was around 300, around 30 seconds for cards. I need to change some things, which I’ve started to do and I’m seeing improvements now. It’s been a lot of work to break this particular plateau.
Anthony: What does a typical training session look like? Is there a fixed daily routine or how do you drill yourself to reach something like the 30-second area for 52 cards?
The Best Memory Routine Advice You’ll Ever Get
Nelson: It depends on where I am in terms of what’s coming up. Is there a memory competition down the road or is it off-season so to speak. I used to just train always. Like four to five hours a day, I’d do sets of numbers, cards, names, words, just every day. Then I pulled back a bit. I think after I won in 2014 it was the first time I took break and I didn’t touch anything for like six months, which made it really had to get back into.
Now that I’m training for The World Memory Championships, which has more different or varying disciplines, I have a lot more to train. I’ll kind of split up my weeks by Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday and then Friday and one of the weekend days I kind of leave for experimenting and working on systems. All the days I will usually do speed numbers and speed cards, just memorizing cards and numbers.
Then on the Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ll work on the longer disciplines. In the World Championships, they test you for an hour on how many numbers you can memorize and how many packs of cards you can memorize. I work on that. It just ends up being, when I’m really down to it, a five-hour training day.
Anthony: Wow! That sounds intense. Given that amount of investment, do you think memory competitions should be included in the Olympics, or do you have any ideas why it isn’t already in the Olympics?
Nelson: Yeah, I think so. I think the reason why it’s not though is because it’s horribly boring to watch. That’s not to say that you can’t make it exciting. I’m working on that, but the World Championships is extremely boring to watch. I love to compete in it of course, but compared to staring at someone for three days straight for eight hours a day watching them stare at a piece of paper taking tests.
How To Make Dudes And Dudettes Memorizing Stuff Look Sexy, Stimulating And Exciting As All Hell
That’s not the most exciting sport to watch but there’s a memory tournament that I created two years ago called the Extreme Memory Tournament and we try to make it somewhat of a spectator sport. I think we’re doing a good job so far.
The XMT, as we call it, is a two-day competition and everything is digital first of all. It’s all one-on-one matches. Everybody who is competing is split up into groups kind of like the World Cup. On Day 1, you play everybody in your group in each of the disciplines. There are cards, numbers, words, names and pictures. They are all short disciplines like one-minute memorization.
The cool thing is – so I’m going up against you for example. Let’s say we’re memorizing a deck of cards. Here we are on our laptops racing through this deck of cards as fast as possible and on the screen it’s broadcasted to the audience so people can see exactly how fast I’m going through my deck of cards versus you. Who finishes first and then during recall while constructing those decks, trying to remember their correct order, it’s who can get the most right. If we both got it right, who did it faster? It makes it very visual. It’s short. It’s exciting. It’s this battle. It’s not so much test taking anymore versus there’s a little bit of strategy involved and it’s a lot more exciting that way.
Anthony: That sounds like it would be very exciting. Like speed chess basically.
Anthony: Cool, well speaking of the word extreme, and your predilection for names talk about the Extreme Memory Challenge and the research that’s going on that you’re involved in.
Are There Genetically Superior Memorizers Roaming The Planet?
Nelson: Going back to this tournament, we started it because this company called Dart Neuroscience, they’re in San Diego. They were doing some research with Washington University in St. Louis, and I was part of that study amongst other memory experts. What they’re trying to do is to try to find and create a drug that improves memory and brain health and cognition. Not an easy task, but they have a lot of their funds going into a lot of universities for research and they’re doing their own research as well. I’ve worked with them obviously to help put together the tournament.
They were the key sponsor those two years we ran it. They are also working, and I’m helping them with this because I totally want it to succeed, is they developed a memory test. It is long-term memory test, and they’re just trying to get a million at least, honestly as many people to take the test as possible. The idea being we’re trying to locate or identify people who have naturally good long-term memories. That’s a very rare thing to find. Maybe not even somebody who we’ll find, but you will only know if you get enough people. Once we find those people, we’ll be able to do a lot of DNA testing to figure out what separates these people from the norm. That’s the idea.
It’s called Extreme Memory Challenge. It’s a pretty easy fun test. It doesn’t hurt. It’s easy. You’re helping research and if anybody is listening to this, I would love for you to just take the test and share it. The more people that take it the better and you can actually see how you compare to me. I’ve taken the test as well.
Anthony: We know that there are people who are extraordinarily good with mnemonics, mnemonists, and are you split testing them so that you have results from people who aren’t using mnemonics compared to those who are to take the test.
Nelson: At this point, we’re just honestly getting as many people to take the test. Once we have people who have scored highly, we’ll be more careful in how we weed those people out. That’s when we’ll investigate further whether they were using memory techniques or not. The goal is to find the people who were not using memory techniques. Right now, we’re just trying to get people to do well on the test.
Anthony: What do you think about the claims and the studies that say technology is now doing so much of our memory work that we’re going in the opposite direction where our memories are degrading? Have you found that for yourself and had that observation?
The Most Outrageously Powerful Definition About Memory Is Just One Word Long
Nelson: Definitely. The one thing I’ve learned about memory through this whole journey is that it’s attention. That’s all it is. When you talk about techniques, Memory Palaces and number systems all you’re doing at the very basis of it all is paying a lot of attention to something. You’re building this elaborate system for one specific thing. You’re sitting there thinking about it really hard. That’s paying attention to something and that’s what memory is. If you’re not paying attention to something, somebody says something that you should remember you’re not going to remember it.
This era is all distractions. Just think of when you’re out having a conversation with a friend. You usually have your phone out, whether it’s on the table or in your hand or in your pocket. It’s going off, it’s lighting up. Maybe theirs is lighting up to, versus when you would actually go out with someone back in the day, and you maybe didn’t have text messages awhile back. You’d have to say we’ll meet here at this time. You did and then actually paid attention to that person. That exchange was probably more memorable or easier to remember than ones you have these days because of that technology. I definitely believe that this day and age it is so hard to pay attention to things.
We’re constantly being bombarded. It’s just making memory that much more difficult. We don’t have to use it as much as well, so all that together just kind of makes our memories so along this journey as well I try to figure out a way to give back and to educate people on all the things I have kind of figured out.
As we talked about before, it’s shocking that this stuff isn’t in schools and that people don’t know about it. We all can do it. It’s all latent within us, the skill. I tried to figure out a way. How can I share this with people? I thought okay maybe I can create a blog/website where I post all these kind of tips and talk about memory and how do I make it a little more exciting. I tied it to another passion of mine which mountain climbing.
How To Memorize Safely – With Almost No Oxygen In Your Brain!
That’s where Climb for Memory came from. I started climbing mountains and updating my blogs about my trips and photos. I was trying to get people to be drawn to the site. Climbing Mt. Everest, things like that, things that people are kind of fascinated by and don’t always get the opportunity to learn about. It’s kind of a diversion. It’s like hey look here, but what you’re really looking at is this cause I’m climbing for, which I also happen to know a great deal about it. Here’s how you memorize this and that and keep your brain healthy. It was an effort to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and also funds as well.
Anthony: If I understand correctly, you’re also doing some experiments and as you climb with different altitudes and how your memory responds or is that something you’re starting in the future.
Nelson: Yeah, I’ve done that on some of my higher altitude climbs. Since I train all the time. I kept doing it on these long expeditions. For example, Mt. Everest, not many people know but it’s a two-month expedition, so you’re at high altitude, 17,000 feet or higher for about six weeks there. Your body goes through some serious changes and near the top of the mountain, you’re getting a third of the oxygen you would at sea level. You need oxygen. Your body needs oxygen to function properly and to think straight.
If you ever see these videos online of pilots, they simulate oxygen just dropping. They test them and they just become idiots within seconds. It’s crazy. They can’t put a square peg through a square hole. They put it through the triangle you know something like that. They can’t do basic arithmetic.
For climbers, we spend a lot of time acclimatizing so that when we do get to the top we’re not like that. That’s not to say we’re not stupid but we can think a little better. I’ve have been testing that with memory. What’s surprising to me is I’ve actually done as good or better as I went up in altitude. I have no idea why, but I just love to test that kind of stuff to see how these techniques fair with the elements.
Anthony: They say that norepinephrine is produced in novel situations, which is thought to be an aid to memory, that chemical in the brain.
Nelson: Yeah, I’ve had some thoughts about it, and that’s the one that’s come up. It’s the most extraordinary experience being up there. You put yourself in some really memorable hairy, scary situations constantly for six to eight weeks. You walk away with an experience that is super memorable because of how novel it is, and I’m sure that plays into all your thoughts while
you’re up there including when I would do my memory training.
How Big Is Your Memory?
Anthony: Now you know personally the size and the dimension of Mt. Everest, do you have a sense or a feeling of the size of your memory?
Nelson: No, I don’t think so. Obviously, it’s contained to that thing that’s inside my head which has a finite size. But in terms of how many Memory Palaces I can have and how many bits of information I can store there, I have no idea.
I mean there can always be some way that I can press information into bigger chunks and Memory Palaces that, like you said, you know you alter things in your Memory Palace and you can memorize something totally new inside of it. Where is the limit?
These memory competitions are a great example because when they first started in the early 1990s the records there were, at the time, very impressive, but now they are a joke. At the time, you thought okay you can’t really go that much faster with a deck of cards and then somebody broke a minute. Now people are getting under 30 seconds like it’s the easiest thing in the world and people are approaching the 20second, people even in training getting 19, 18 seconds.
Breaking The Speed Limit Of Memory One Card At A Time
Now you’re like, okay I don’t think you can get much faster than that. Who knows, at some point somebody is going to come up with something that allows you memorize a deck of cards in 10 seconds, which is crazy. When does it end? Obviously, you’ve got to look at the cards so there is a limit to that, but in terms of how much you can store and how limitless the memory is, it’s crazy to think about.
Anthony: I have an interview on the podcast with Phil Chambers who is chief arbiter of the World Memory Championships …
Nelson: Sure, yeah.
Anthony: He said that they’re working on an app (I guess it would be) that’s going to be able to show the cards faster than the human hands can move, which it sounds like you already have some version of that if you’re doing a digital read of the cards in your competitions.
Nelson: Yeah, I mean that’s what that would be, right. It’s a digital version that you could just click through. There another couple of training sites online that people use, and when we talk about personal bests, who has been able to do this a lot of them are doing faster times on the digital format because you don’t have to like thumb through the deck. You’re just moving an arrow, clicking an arrow to go to the right and you can go a lot faster.
Anthony: I think what he was talking about is that they would set a speed so you would not have any manual control over when or for how long the cards were displayed. Do you think you would be able to handle someone else controlling or an automatic process controlling the duration of the exposure?
It’s All A Matter Of Training
Nelson: It’s all a matter of training. If you tell me you’re going to show me a deck of cards, one every quarter second, okay, I’m going to train that. Maybe I can’t do it immediately. Maybe I’ll train with – well I can do it in about 30 seconds, so maybe that’s approaching a half second per card. I would start there and cut it down.
When you put these boundaries and these limitations is when people suddenly improve. You see somebody run the 4minute mile for the first time and then suddenly you can do it as well because it’s possible or it’s a barrier and now people have something to work towards. I don’t think it’s too hard unless you just don’t practice.
That’s it. I do a lot of cross training and some of these guys that end up winning, there’s a guy named Rich who won four times in a row. I mean these guys just work day in and day out lifting, working out crazy. I love watching videos of him just how he trains and his mentality through it. I think that’s the only way to get better is practice with anything, honestly and that’s the biggest thing with memory.
People think it’s a natural thing or I have some talent for it naturally. Honestly, I don’t think so. I think it’s training. Yeah, maybe some people need less training to get to where I am or to get even better than me. If you train and you are gung ho and so motivated to do a certain thing, you can do anything.
Anthony: Do you have a favorite quote?
Nelson: Favorite quote? Yeah, I think every year before the memory championship I always Tweet and stuff. Let me see if I can say it right. It’s dumb, it’s so dumb, but it’s from, what movie is that? It’s one of those movies that came out in the 1990s. It’s a spoof.
Anyways, this guy is going out on the football field and he’s kind of down on himself. He doesn’t believe in himself, whatever. He sits on the bench and Mr. T comes up to him who is this high school janitor and he says before he goes out, he like “Believe in the ball and throw yourself.” Which you hear it and it’s like he’s just saying it backwards.
The guy looks at him kind of confused, but I always loved that because it’s kind of true. I think usually you’re supposed to say believe in yourself and throw the ball, or whatever it is, and that’s how you succeed. I think when you want to succeed you’ve got to train a lot. You’ve got to practice properly. You’ve got to really make this your life if you really want to achieve it.
When it comes down to performing in a competition, it’s not about believing in yourself, it’s believing in the thing that you know instinctively. You just believe in the ball and you just throw yourself into it. That’s what I was saying before. When I memorize and I get a really good time, it’s when I thought or memorized the least. It’s like I didn’t even feel like I was memorizing. It was just so natural. That’s what you strive for through your training. That you’ve done it so many times that it’s just a matter of throwing yourself out there and doing what you know.
Anthony: Something really interesting came up when you were searching in your mind for the quote and even the movie that it came from, and I was interviewed myself last night and there’s slips of the mind that come. Well, it some book I read at some time at some point, but people seem to expect that people using mnemonics wouldn’t have these same lapses.
There’s No Such Thing As A Bullet Proof Memory Champ
Do you ever prepare yourself for social situations? Like I presented about language learning and memory techniques at the polyglot conference in Berlin, and I went there prepared because I knew people were going to come up to me and give me some crazy phrase and I would be put on the spot. Of course, I want to demonstrate the validity of these techniques so I was really on the ball. It was successful the whole weekend, but there’s this pressure of performance. Do you ever have that or people throw you curve balls to see where you’re at? They somehow like in an example where you can’t quite recall the name of movie they say come on. What’s your experience with that kind of stuff?
Nelson: Yeah, over the years I’ve been caught off guard and kind of made a fool of. I’m not a tape recorder. A lot of these things and you can attest to this, is you’ve got to turn it off. It’s to me a memorizing machine. You’ve got to be actively doing it. Sometimes I just don’t want to do it. I’m tired and don’t want to focus and pay attention. I just want to veg out. When I have these talks I have to be on because I want to practice what I preach and I have little tricks that help me.
You know people catch me off guard. Most of all it’s just I turn it off. I really focus on being on point. If somebody comes up where they’re like hey what was your favorite movie and I’m like oh the one with the memory and I can’t remember. It’s just I feel like a situation like that kinds of make me seem human and normal which is what people want to see as well. It’s nice to see someone who seems superhuman, but on some level if there’s too much of that then you almost feel like I can’t do that. I think that’s actually maybe good to motivate someone. It’s like okay. I can do that. It doesn’t seem like he’s 100 percent but it’s still very impressive.
Anthony: Speaking about that, a lot of people they doubt themselves, they doubt that it’s possible for them. What do you think is just one little thing that a person could do that would give them a quick victory so they have a taste of what’s possible?
Two Ways To Turn Your Memory On And Keep It Humming
Nelson: I’ll give you two things. The first one is pay attention. It’s the most elementary thing of course but if I’m telling you that most of memory is paying attention, and you go out and say you have a meeting or a party you’re going to, and you tell yourself I’m going to pay attention and remember ten people’s names.
That’s my goal. Make it a game or something. You will. You will just from the fact that you’re telling yourself to do that. You’re wired, you’re turning it on to complete that particular task. You will perform 100 times better than if you just hoped to remember people’s names and you didn’t really think about it.
The second thing is the Memory Palace. Think of your house. It’s a quick thing. Think of your house. Start at your front door and whenever you want to memorize a list of things just picture each item along a path of your house. Then when you want to recall it, you just imagine yourself through that house and like you said, you can’t forget how to get from your front door to your bedroom or whatever. You will remember what was there. It’s surprisingly simple and surprisingly powerful as well.
Anthony: What’s the one question you wish that someone would ask you about memory that no one ever seems to narrow in on?
Nelson: Oh, that’s good. Another question that people should stop asking me and that’s do you play in Vegas? I don’t. I don’t think it would be much of a help to have a good memory there. What’s the one that I hope they would ask me is when can we start training?
Anthony: Very good. This has been a wonderful experience getting to speak with you and I know the people who listen to this podcast are going to love it and find it very inspiring. How can people who want to learn more about you, about Climb for Memory, about the Extreme Memory Challenge and your upcoming book, how can they find you online and get in touch with you and maybe there will be some people who love to ask you about hiring your help as a personal trainer.
Nelson: Yeah, the easiest way is to Climb for Memory. You can contact me through there. There’s a lot of information on there about memory and my climbs and stuff like that. Then I have my YouTube channel where there are a lot of videos of my climbs and little snippets of memory talks that I’ve done. There’s a lot if you just Google memory. You can throw my name in there too if you want to look at something specifically for me. Otherwise, there’s a lot of memory resources out there these days, there’s no shortage of it.
USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis On Memory, Tenacity & Conquering Anything on Jonathan Levi’s Becoming Superhuman Podcast
Sep 24 2015
Rank #7: How to Memorize a Textbook: A 10-Step Cheatsheet
Post updated 12/30/19
Exams loom on the horizon and you’re staring at a stack of unread textbooks so large it would make any sane student shake in their boots.
Maybe you got behind in your reading over the course of the semester…
Or maybe your professor assigned additional reading you haven’t gotten around to yet…
Whatever the case, you have a ton of information to memorize before your exams roll around, and you’re feeling the pressure.
Well, guess what?
You are not alone! In fact, almost every student ends up feeling like this as the end of the semester approaches. And hardly a week goes by that I’m not asked about how to memorize a textbook and textbook memorization.
The good news is: memorizing a textbook is not as difficult as it may seem.
At the end of the day, it’s not just about memorizing — that would be an utter waste of time!
Instead, the real goal is to understand the books you read. And more than just understanding the content, you want to use the textbooks you place in memory to create new knowledge.
In this post, you’ll learn how to:
- Correctly set your expectations of what the book will contain
- Understand why you need to read the book (or if you actually need to!)
- Quickly determine how much of the book you really need to read
- Make a dedicated Memory Palace system to memorize the parts you really need
- Learn how to take notes from a textbook onto index cards or flashcards, and
- Determine how much time you’ll need to practice the information you’ve memorized
If you want to jump to a particular section, you can do that here:
- Examine the book
- Make an equation
- Get index cards
- Find the big points and jot them down
- Make use of your Memory Palace
- Create crazy imagery to help you recall the info
- Stick each crazy image onto a Memory Palace station for recall
- Test yourself before the teacher does
- Let the info grow into knowledge
- Bonus! Save your knowledge for later
Want this post in infographic form?
You can download this infographic, just like Aldolfo:
Aldolfo Artigas printed AND laminated this “How to Memorize a Textbook” infographic and now his sons are using the technique too!
So are you ready to learn how to memorize a textbook, the right way?
Let’s get started.
The Question That Inspired This Post
So you may be wondering: Hey Anthony, if people have been asking you about this topic for so long, what finally made you decide to write about it?
Well, the truth is, I’ve written about textbook (and book) memorization before, just never in the context of memorizing an entire textbook.
You can check out my post about how to memorize a chapter out of a textbook. And you might also be interested in another post I wrote, about how students with dyslexia can still ace their exams.
In the end, the reason is simple: I decided to write this post and record a podcast to help out one of my audience members.
Here’s what this struggling student wrote:
“Hi Anthony. I want to memorize some physics, chemistry, and math formulas, and also some texts that I have to memorize verbatim, but it needs a lot of Memory Palaces and too much time. Plus, I don’t know how to memorize formulas.
For instance, memorizing sin(A+B)=AcosB+cos.
Do I need just one Loci, and how do I memorize this? Of course, this is a very simple formula, but exams are coming! I need your help.”
How to Memorize a Textbook vs a Book
For the purposes of this post, we’ll use the words “book” and “textbook” interchangeably.
When it comes right down to it, the only real difference is that someone has called a textbook a textbook. Other than that, they’re remarkably similar — pages stuck between two covers with a spine.
Very little else differentiates them, except for some signature that has been applied to them by the author or publisher. Mind you, textbooks often come out in multiple editions, and a quick win is to be aware of how recently the edition you’re reading appeared on the market. You can sometimes find a nearly identical (and much cheaper) version from the year before.
But overall, a book is a book, by any other name.
And whether it’s a book or a textbook (even boring books), the first question you should always ask is: do I actually have to memorize this entire textbook verbatim?
Do You Really Need to Memorize a Book Verbatim?
One of the things I always ask people when they come to me with this question is: why?
Why do you need to memorize the textbook verbatim? Are you certain you need to memorize the whole thing – or even long passages – verbatim? What will memorizing the whole textbook get you?
If it’s just speed that you’re after, think again about how to study fast with this guide to high volume learning at speed.
There are certainly ways to memorize long passages of text word-for-word that are 100% effective. There are people who are known to have done it.
But, if you don’t absolutely have to put in the time and effort to memorize verbatim, why would you?
Instead, what if you could learn something deeply enough to be able to discuss it, to connect it, and to frame it in a certain context?
Chances are, memorizing in this way will not only be easier, but also more effective. Memorizing verbatim is rarely necessary and the mind will fill in the blanks if you structure your approach correctly.
So in this post, what I really want to teach you is the power of memorizing select material from a textbook.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Now, let’s be honest for a minute. If your exams are coming up tomorrow or the next day, this approach probably isn’t going to work for you.
In an ideal situation, you would take the time to dig your wells before you’re thirsty. What that means in this context is that you want to know what Memory Palaces are, and have yours set up and comfortable before you start to study for your exams.
You could build a ladder to the moon with all the different memorization techniques out there, but I teach a very particular approach called the Magnetic Memory Method. You may have heard of it, especially if you’re a regular reader.
And because I teach this specific approach, I would recommend that you get yourself set up before crunch time — before exams are staring you down, making your palms sweaty and giving you nightmares!
My approach uses location-based memorization strategies, all based around Memory Palaces. You’ll need more than one Memory Palace, and you’ll need to do some self-exploration. But the good news is… it’s super simple to do, and the process is a lot of fun!
The first step in the process is to have a carefully defined Memory Palace.
Before you ever pick up a book, even if it’s scriptural, you’ll determine how much material you want to memorize from it. And then you’ll create a Memory Palace in advance so you can recall that information with ease when you need it.
But what if you’re new here, and you’ve never created a Memory Palace before? I’ve got you covered — grab my free 4-video memory course below, and the series will get you up to speed.
We’ll talk more about how to use your Memory Palaces later in this post.
Second, you will get in the right mindset for studying.
Setting a good mental attitude is key, before you even pick up the book. This allows you to mentally take away the most essential information.
And part of getting into the proper mindset has to do with relaxation. Before diving into any memory technique, I always take a moment to chill out and relax. Chillax, if you prefer. I do this by using traditional meditation techniques.
Now, some people have a very specific vision of meditation and what it means, but for our purposes, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Meditation, in my mind, is as simple as sitting with your back and neck straight, imagining there’s a hook in the top of your head attached to a string that’s pulling you straight up. Then, you just sit there and breathe.
Some people believe that meditation is about emptying your mind — here are two of my favorite metaphors:
- You’re sitting on the bank of a river. Your thoughts are the river, and you just watch them go by. Then, any time you find yourself being sucked away by the river you just bring yourself back to the shore and watch the river again.
- Imagine an elephant that’s tied to a chain on the ground. The elephant – your mind – is romping around like crazy. You tie it to the ground with a stake, and then a couple of seconds later, you have to go get it and tie it down again. And with enough training, you can get the elephant to sit down and go to sleep.
That second metaphor – the mind as an elephant – is a bit more appropriate for memory techniques.
Alan Watts said that meditation should have no goal whatsoever — it should be sitting just to sit. And in this Tim Ferriss podcast, Sam Harris says, “all you’re doing is paying exquisitely close and non-judgmental attention to whatever you’re experiencing.”
So even if you can’t get your metaphorical elephant to stop running off, still take a moment to sit and breathe. Take the time to chillax before you start memorizing.
This allows you to approach memorization with the right attitude: still, gentle, not fighting for or clamoring after anything. You’re just being… and absorbing information. You might even think about it like this: you are a being, and the information is also like a being. You get to absorb that other being into you, something you can bring into yourself!
And if meditation isn’t your thing, you can also do some progressive muscle relaxation exercises or pendulum breathing — this combines physical processes with a particular way of breathing. Or maybe you can listen to some music to get you ready to study.
How to Memorize a Textbook (Realistically)
When I was studying for my doctoral exams – and later for my dissertation defense – I needed to read a total of 500 books to be able to sit for the exams and write my dissertation.
500 books. No exaggeration and I’m not kidding.
(In fact, if you read my post about how to memorize a chapter in a textbook, you’ll see photographic evidence of me carrying a stack of 20 or 30 of those books. I carried many, many piles like that from the library stacks to the private office I had access to in the Robarts Library in Toronto.)
The good news for you is that you get to learn from my extensive studying experience — how I operate when I’m conducting research or want to memorize the contents of a book. (You can also use this same method to memorize a novel, if you’re reading between the lines…)
Quick note: looking back at the question from our intrepid reader, you’ll notice that they use the word “loci”. I don’t use that word myself, because the Magnetic Memory Method is much more specific.
There are operational factors in the 10-step method I teach that may not seem to involve memorization. But trust me, each step is essential to the Magnetic Memory Method of textbook memorization.
Remember: before you do anything else, have a carefully defined Memory Palace that involves a location you’re intimately familiar with. I usually chart out at least 10 – but sometimes up to 50 – stations. Sometimes I even use an entire room or spots within a room.
Let’s call that step zero: create your Memory Palace.
A Memory Palace is a mental construct, based on a real location. You use different spots inside the Memory Palace to store information along a very well-constructed journey. Those spots are called “stations” — an entire room is a macro station, and a spot within that room is a micro station (like a bed, desk, or chair). You can leave associative imagery in those locations, so you can then go back along the journey in your mental construct, decode the images, and recall the information you left there.
1. Examine the book
Now we get to the good stuff! Take your textbook, and take a good look at it:
- Look at the front cover.
- Look at the back cover.
- Look over the introduction.
- Read the conclusion, and
- Be sure to scan through the index, if your book has one.
And read the colophon page — that’s the place where they include information about the book’s publication, like the place of publication, the publisher, and the publication date. If you didn’t know what a colophon page is, look it up. It’s fascinating. I also find the table of contents of a book to be very interesting.
These parts of the book are what Gerard Genette called the “paratext.” This means the text beside the text. This step takes about five minutes and effectively trains your brain to understand the scope and the dimension of the book with respect to the topic.
Not included in that five-minute estimate is the time it takes to read the conclusion, which could be a much longer process. So why should you take the extra time to read the conclusion?
Partially, so you can judge whether or not the author’s conclusion about their subject was profound enough to warrant reading the book in the first place! Sometimes when you read a conclusion, you’ll realize that the author hasn’t arrived at any conclusion that makes it worth reading the process or the argument that substantiates what the author concluded.
Okay. So maybe that’s a little judgmental. It’s certainly not a foolproof way to decide what to read. But, when you have 500 books on your plate it’s worth taking the time to determine whether or not the book warrants all that reading. You only have so many hours before your exam, after all.
The conclusion (and introduction) will also give you clues as to where the information is in the book — or at least the important information. And this location data is often included in the context of the concluding remarks, which can be quite helpful.
For example, the author might say, “In chapter one I do this, in chapter two I talk about this, and in chapter three I cover that.”
2. Make an equation
When I take a look at a textbook, I decide in advance how many pieces of information I want to retain from it.
This is what the Magnetic Memory Method calls the “principle of predetermination.” It’s not an arbitrary or random decision. Instead, you will consider the length of the book and the purpose of your studying. Is this for an oral exam or an essay?
Using this method creates an understanding of what your goal is, and what the outcome would be. It creates a border or frame of sorts, to keep you focused.
Usually, 3 to 5 pieces of information per chapter is enough. And for today’s post, we’ll use 3 pieces of information per chapter as our number.
Before we move along to the next step, let’s examine two reasons why choosing a specific number is important.
- Failing to plan is planning to fail.
It might sound a bit cliché, but it’s true — especially when it comes to structured reading. When you’re reading for a particular purpose, then it’s vital to plan how you’re going to read. Books are filled with details, pages full of information, and you can easily become overwhelmed if you don’t plan appropriately.
- You can avoid getting overwhelmed
When you predetermine how to approach a book and structure your reading process, you prevent overwhelm. You end up denying it from existing in the first place, because you know you are only going to memorize three pieces of information from each chapter.
Of course, you can always add information later if necessary, but containing and maintaining the information before you even get to it is a good strategy.
Plus, less is always more. Focusing on just a few key points will allow a lot of the surrounding information to stick to your specifically memorized points. Go ahead and try it!
3. Get index cards
For regular readers here at Magnetic Memory Method, you might want to sit down for what I’m about to say.
I know that I’m usually scowling and calling for the death of index cards… but in this case, they have a different value, other than rote learning. (As you may or may not know yet, rote learning is a no-no in the Magnetic Memory Method.)
However! When we’re talking about how to memorize a textbook, we do have a certain mania for index cards. In fact, it’s part of what I call “Magnetic Bibliomancy.”
To join in the fun, grab an index card and let’s get started.
First, write down the name of the author, the title of the book, and the bibliographic information.
Please note: there is certain bibliographical (or paratextual) information that doesn’t need to take up space in your Memory Palace. And if you regularly use memory techniques, you’ll find yourself absorbing that information anyway. But I don’t tend to offer Memory Palace space to it, since index cards are something you can hold onto.
Now you’ll have one index card that has all the bibliographic information of the book. Number this card in the top left corner — number 1. (I always label my index cards in the top left corner.)
4. Find the big points and jot them down
Now that you’re all organized and have your plan, it’s time to get down to business.
Because you read the introduction, paratextual materials, and the conclusion, you should already have an idea which chapters you want to read first. You don’t have to start with the first chapter! There’s a high likelihood that your mind already decided how to prioritize your reading efforts.
Remember, for the purposes of this blog post, we’re looking for three primary pieces of information out of each chapter. So, there are 3 pieces of information you’re going to walk away with from whichever chapter you read first.
You have your index cards ready to go, and you’re ready to start writing down the key pieces of information on each card, numbering them the same way (in the top left corner).
You will want to have some sort of indication on each card about where you are in the book. This has to do with what I call the “ownership mindset” for textbook memorization. You’ve already adopted the attitude that you’re going to succeed. You literally want to feel like you own the key information in your textbook.
One way you can take on this mindset is to pretend you’re a talk show host on a popular show or podcast, and later this evening you get to interview the author of the textbook. Millions of people will be watching or listening, so you really need to know your stuff. And you need to be able to read the book fast.
When you use this mindset, it allows you to ask questions while you’re reading. You get really curious about the topic, and instead of passively reading you end up engaging with the text. There’s pressure: time pressure, the fact that you’re going to interview the author. You could even imagine that the author is sitting there with you as you read, and pretend like you can read their mind about the answers to your questions.
Studying is a numbers game. I’ve touched on this, but I want you to categorize everything using a kind of numbers game. So when you come across a gem of a detail, write it down on your index card along with the page number where you found the information, and sometimes the chapter name or number.
This kind of information always goes in the bottom right corner. And if you have secondary ideas, you can use the back of the index card to jot them down. I always do this regardless of whether I’ve copied down a quote from a book or just a note or observation.
Here’s why I diligently complete this step: if I ever need the information again, I’ll know where to find it.
At this point, you’re not doing any kind of memorizing whatsoever. Instead, you’re:
- Familiarizing yourself with the material,
- Connecting details with already-known information,
- Learning new information, and
- Gathering new facts and details.
That’s it — but memorization is not ready yet. You aren’t memorizing the book as you go along, but rather focusing on the book and marinating yourself in it.
5. Make use of your Memory Palace
Once you’ve finished reading the book and filling out your index cards, it’s time to place the information into the correct spot in your Memory Palace.
Let’s pretend for a moment that our example textbook had ten chapters. Since we wrote down three pieces of information per chapter, we now have 30 index cards. And because we prepared our Memory Palace ahead of time, we have 30 stations ready to go.
Now it’s time to memorize, magnetically.
6. Create crazy imagery to help you recall the info
Take each index card and think of an image that relates to the information on your card. Make the images bright, zany, and exploding with action.
I’ll walk you through a few examples so you can see this step in action.
Example 1: Imagery based on the author’s appearance
Let’s take Gerard Genette, the author of Paratext, as an example. If I wanted to memorize material from the book Paratext, I would use Gerard as a lexical bridge or Magnetic Bridging Figure, helping me move from station to station.
Genette reminds me of Gillette razor blades. Not exactly a one-to-one correlation, but I can nonetheless see him shaving in that first room, if I needed to memorize that he was the author of Paratext. He would be shaving away a beard with wild ends growing out of his face. For the context of “Paratext” I could picture a pear bouncing up and down on a textbook, or a can or Para Paint splashing over a book.
Example 2: Imagery based on concepts from the index card
In this example, index card 2 says, “A text does not exist outside of the text itself.”
It may sound pretty obvious, but we don’t often think about the fact that until someone comes along and reads the book, it essentially doesn’t do anything. There are millions of books standing unread on bookshelves around the world that only exist when someone is reading them or talking about them.
So our minds are kind of texts, and when we read, the two texts intermingle. The second station will feature the book Paratext itself, and words are trying to escape from the pages. And poor Genette is standing there, trying to beat the words back in — because according to him there is no text outside the text itself.
Example 3: Imagery of the author throughout the Memory Palace
To get some of the other concepts in Genette’s thinking, I might see him giving up the battle and then opening up a lid in his head, which is also filled with words. I could use Genette for each and every station, doing something related to the key phrase on the index card.
I’ve done this with Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. I’ve done it with Plato’s The Republic. I’ve done it with novels. Done it with all kinds of things. Once you get used to it, it’s very easy.
And when using this approach for Ulysses by James Joyce it’s very easy to see Joyce moving through my Memory Palace, not through Dublin, as he does in the novel.
If I knew Dublin, then I might be able to use Dublin, but I don’t. So I was able to use a Memory Palace based on a familiar location and I see Joyce going from place to place so I can remember the different things that are happening in the plot in order to recall them later.
Now you’ve seen three different examples of how you might use wildly exaggerated information to help you populate your Memory Palace stations. Remember, these images should always be big, bright, colorful, and filled with lots of action.
7. Stick each crazy image onto a Memory Palace station for recall
This step is the most straightforward of the ten.
You will begin with card number 1, and memorize the biographical information at station number one in the Memory Palace. Then continue on with index card two and station two, index card three and station three… you get the idea.
If you already know the author and title by heart, you might not need to use that first station for biographical information. Use your judgment, so you don’t waste valuable memory real estate.
Since it only takes a second or two to create a really action-packed image for each station, be sure to take the time to really see them in your mind’s eye.
8. Test yourself before the teacher does
This is the step many people won’t take: practice recalling the info by going from station to station.
After you’ve gone through and used your Memory Palace to put every bit of information on those 30 cards into the proper station, you can make sure the information sticks. Pretend like you’re testing yourself in a real test situation.
Take the details, facts, concepts, and plot points that you memorized, and write a summary from memory. Your index cards should be somewhere else during this exercise — in a box, on a shelf, or somewhere else you can’t cheat. And you can’t look back and forth the whole time to make sure you get things right as you go along.
Then, check your summary against the index cards. Did you remember all the points from your cards? Did you remember things in the correct order?
9. Let the info grow into knowledge
One of the most important stages of this process is to turn the information you memorized into knowledge that you can use over and over — not just for this single test or exam.
This is one place where the related information that wasn’t on your index cards will come out to shine, as well. You get to see which pieces of information are “magnetic” and stick to your brain. And you can start to apply the things you learned in other situations, perhaps even bringing some of the information into everyday conversations.
Plus, once you make the switch from information and data points into knowledge, you’re much more likely to pass every exam with flying colors!
And speaking of transforming information into knowledge, you can also pull that knowledge out of your brain banks down the line. Let’s take a look at the 10th and final (bonus) step in your memorization process.
10. Bonus! Save your knowledge for later
When you’re done with your index cards, don’t throw them away!
Once you don’t need the information for your exam anymore, you also don’t need to hold the information in your Memory Palace. You can empty out and reuse your Memory Palace for something else, and let the index cards hold the information for a rainy day.
For example, let’s say you memorized the James Joyce novel Ulysses for a literature class. Once you took your exam, you didn’t need the information rattling around in your brain, so you put the index cards in a box and shelved them away for later.
Five years later, you’re asked to give a talk about the novel. You can simply find the box with your index cards, reconstruct your Memory Palace, and save time in putting together and memorizing your talk.
There’s a high likelihood some of the information will still be in your brain, tucked away in a corner somewhere. And maybe it’s there in the form of paleness, or there are some ghosts or fossils of other information you’ve stored in the Memory Palace since then. But anything that’s still in your memory will become doubly magnetic after working with it again.
One of my university supervisors required me to submit summaries to prove I was reading the books on my reading list. This is what got me into the habit of writing out summaries, and I learned very quickly that writing summaries out of Memory Palaces was just golden. This is material that – if you use it – will change your ability to study and your understanding of how to take notes from a textbook.
You can also use your summaries again later. Save them, and you might find a way to use them for essays, pieces of a publication, or even a Ph.D. dissertation. By using your recall abilities, you’re becoming an expert on your subject matter.
You put stuff in your mind, filter it, and then reproduce it — all without the benefit of looking back and forth at your textbooks or index cards. And through the process, you become a master of information.
Now, I know I said you may not need to memorize your textbooks verbatim, but what about the situations where you do actually need to remember things word-for-word? Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at a couple of examples of how to do just that.
Example: How to Memorize Verbatim
We’ll use the first line of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad for this example.
Now imagine this — I used to work (more like play) at Hadey Windey’s school in Burnaby, Vancouver. It was called ELIT or English Language Intensive Training.
She’s got a vibrant, brilliant set of students who come to this after-school program for extra training so they can be superstar students, and I was able to develop a lot of teaching around memory skills for them. I also taught the students other things like interpretative abilities and essay writing skills, all of which are connected to memory.
And I also was able to build, from this place, an amazing Memory Palace. I never really thought of using it as a Memory Palace until I was training Hadey in using mnemonic techniques and Memory Palaces, and she really didn’t believe it was possible.
I just happened to have an old translation of The Iliad in my iPhone as we were sitting in a park. And I was explaining Memory Palaces to her, and drawing a map of ELIT, showing her how she could use a Memory Palace based on the school.
I said, “Here’s the kitchen, and the office that I have, and here is classroom number 3, and the computer room,” and other things, and I showed how you could make a linear mental journey through this area. Starting in the kitchen, I said, “Imagine I’m limping, and I kick a pail from the kitchen to the door where the Statue of Liberty is standing. In response, she digs with her shovel into the ground and throws the dirt at my office door where I’m standing, writing numbers, and then rubbing the numbers away while I’m coughing.”
Well, the first thing I want to point out is that all of these images are laid out along a journey. It starts in the kitchen and then goes to the door of the kitchen. Then an action goes through the hallway to the door of my office. And other parts carry on through classroom number 3 and the computer lab and so forth. But I’m limping, which reminds me of Achilles, because of Achilles’ heel. I kick a pail. Moving on to the pail, Achilles’ father is Peleus. Now, I don’t need to have the whole Peleus, just pail is enough to remind me of Peleus.
So, “Of Peleus’ son, Achilles,” the pail is now kicked at the Statue of Liberty. “Sing, O Muse.” Now that’s personal to me. The Statue of Liberty means muse to me. It’s just because it’s a woman in a gown, I guess — it works for me.
The hardest thing to teach about Memory Palaces and associative imagery is that you need to use what works for you. You need to draw from your own personal pool of images based on other things that you know. You’re creating associations. So it might not make sense to you, but, to me, it makes a great deal of sense.
“Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, sing, O Muse.” Me, limping, kicking a pail at the Statue of Liberty, that brings back “Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, sing, O Muse. The vengeance, deep and deadly” which is the next line — so the Statue of Liberty is really angry about this, but instead of attacking back at me, she digs into the earth with vengeance — “The vengeance, deep and deadly; whence to Greece unnumbered ills arose.”
So she’s throwing this dirt at my office door, and I didn’t really need to think about the fact that it was taking place in Greece. Any time that you don’t need to memorize something, don’t worry about putting it in the verbatim, because verbatim is a weird thing. Basically, if you don’t need it and it comes back naturally, don’t create an image for it.
So, “Whence to Greece unnumbered ills arose,” well, what am I doing as this dirt comes at me? I’m writing numbers, and then I’m wiping them away. Unnumbered. And I’m coughing, I’m sick — ills. “Whence to Greece unnumbered ills arose.”
That’s a very simple example. I created a vignette since it’s not really a single image or a set of images. And I did this on and on and on for as much of The Iliad as I wanted to memorize to create this example for Hadey. And she was blown away.
After that, she came back two days later and had memorized 100 words of English vocabulary. (English is not her first language.) She was really skeptical at first, but that’s how I finally convinced her to give this a try. Now she’s part of Toastmasters, and she’s giving speeches left, right, and center, right from her mind, directly from using the Magnetic Memory Method.
Now, it’s important to remember that this example was how to memorize a poem verbatim, and you may not need to memorize your entire textbook word-for-word.
And in additional good news, you can use this method for anything you want to remember — it doesn’t matter whether it’s a formula, poetry, a quote, phrase in a foreign language, or a textbook.
Memorization is memorization, when you get right down to it.
The reality is that you can take a spoon or a bucket — the ocean of information doesn’t care. The memory techniques and your brain treat all information equally well. It’s only the ego that sees a difference, and lack of preparation with the memory tools makes it more difficult.
Bonus Example: How to Memorize a Formula
Let’s also break down an example of how verbatim memorization works when you need to remember a formula. We’ll use the example our reader asked about:
As always, we want to start with a well-formed Memory Palace first.
I think of my friend Shannon because her name starts with ‘S’. I was only in her apartment once to watch a James Bond movie, but that’s all I need to get a good Memory Palace rolling.
Next, I start creating Magnetic Imagery to encode the first part of the formula. Since the devil is the boss of “sin,” I put him on Shannon’s couch (a micro-station). To memorize the character “(“ I make it a bulldozer. It drives over an Apple computer, which draws upon another technique entirely, called the pegword method.
From this A for Apple computer, an arm emerges and tosses a crucifix at Batman. Why? Because a crucifix is a good memory tool for remember, and Batman helps me remember “b.”
Now all I have to do is have Batman raise his shield — thus closing this part of the formula with the “)” symbol. But this shield is special because it has two guns to represent the = sign. Then Al Pacino “accosts” Batman throwing a crucifix at Cookie monster wearing Batman “cosplay.”
I know that this process might sound like a lot if you’re a beginner, but you’ll pick it up quickly. And you should — it’s powerful!
How to Study a Textbook for Maximum Retention
Remember that scenario at the beginning of the post? The one where exams were on the horizon, and you were feeling woefully unprepared?
Now you know how to determine how much reading you actually need to do, how much memorization is on your plate, and the best way to memorize your textbooks so you retain as much information as possible.
Most importantly, you understand that memorizing a textbook isn’t as hard as it might seem!
You’re on the right track to ace your exams and create a whole new set of knowledge that you can use now and into the future.
And if you feel like you could use a little bit more of a memory boost before your exams, check out my free memory improvement kit.
Dec 30 2019
Rank #8: 17 Student Fails That Destroy Memory (And What To Do Instead)
It’s no secret that students want to succeed. They really do.
Even a former dropout like myself dreamed of getting all A’s during all those years goofing off took precedent over serious study. I just didn’t have the guidance and strategies talented young people need to get the most out of their education.
So pay attention, because whether you’re in high school, college, university or taking training for certification …
Every Student In The World Can Be
The BEST Student In The World!
But first, you need to overcome a few problems, such as …
The Failure To Make A Cozy Little Study Nest
Far too often, students all over the map. They try to read The Canterbury Tales in cafeterias, do math at the mall and even work on programming logo-rhythms in the loo.
With rare exceptions, none of these places support extended concentration (more on that topic in a bit). But even if you do study well in a variety of noisy places, having a dedicated and protected area can work miracles for your memory.
Humans are creatures of habit, and none of us are stronger than our habits. But when we consistently engage in powerful practices, they guide us to amazing places.
How To Find Your Comfort Zone
In truth, I don’t know. You’ll need to experiment. And you may need more than one,
For me, one of my best study places was Joanne’s closet. She was my main squeeze during my BA years, but for a long time, I was her best-kept secret.
One day I didn’t leave her place in time to miss the people who weren’t supposed to see me, however. The only solution in our intellectually intelligent but emotionally immature minds was to hide me in her closet.
And that’s where I stayed for a very long time after she threw in my backpack, a blanket and a few pillows. Later, she brought me a flashlight so at least I could read.
Over the course of the day, Joanne kept me fed and watered and facilitated the odd trip to the washroom. (Very unusual trips these were indeed!)
The Most Unusual Productivity Hack In The World
Anyhow, the whole ordeal turned out well because not only was I very comfortable, but I wound up reading a challenging book from cover to cover and getting key points down on index cards. I didn’t know how to memorize a textbook (infographic) back then, but getting that work done in a focused place was such a boon, I’ve been reading in and even writing in closets ever since.
Heck, when I was in Gran Canaria, I even recorded two episodes of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast in the closet of my hotel!
The point is, you can find a perfect place to snuggle in and get stuff done. If that means hiding from the family of your lover in a dark place, by all means do it. You’ll be pleased by the results that your regular homework, writing and study space brings.
Next, don’t fail to …
Rack Your Study Schedule Shotgun
I know. That’s a slightly violent image.
But the reality is that we as students and lifelong learners often fail to follow a planned schedule. And went that happens, it’s impossible to set ’em up and knock ’em down.
I’m talking about writing essays with enough time left over to edit them. I’m talking about giving yourself enough time to take a warm up exam before sitting for the one that counts. I’m talking about planning time for fun, relaxation and rest so your brain consolidates all you’re learning.
The problem is, so few know …
How To Create A Bulletproof Action Plan
And Consistently Implement
The best tip I know to help you with this one involves two simple sentences.
Conquer the Morning. Win the day.
Remember when I told you about my Mandarin Chinese Mnemonics And Morning Memory Secrets?
Well, I didn’t invent that strategy just for studying Chinese. I’ve been using morning routines for years to get the most important tasks out of the way first.
But You’ve Got To Know What Your
Most Important Tasks Are!
To do that means identifying and setting priorities. If your teacher is any good, you’ll have these loud and clear.
For example, with the Magnetic Memory Method, it’s simple: organize the target info, create Memory Palaces or select existing Memory Palaces, encode the info and then use Recall Rehearsal to place it in long term memory.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
But not all teachers know how to help you understand your priorities, so you must make sure you …
Stop Failing To Communicate With Your Instructors
I know, I know. They’re the teachers and it’s their responsibility to guide you.
But in reality, that’s only 50% correct. Every top-notch student needs to meet their instructors halfway. You need to observe where they are failing you and get what you need.
Avoid This Student Plague … Like The Plague!
Have you ever sat in class with a burning question and yet … you didn’t raise your hand?
If so, you’re in the majority.
Don’t feel bad. It’s part of the human condition not to want to stand out, or feel stupid or be the first to say something. You might also be wrongly assuming that the teacher will get to what you want to know later anyway. Or maybe you fear that the teacher might be annoyed.
Maybe the teacher will show some agitation, but who cares? Their position obligates them to serve you and if you’re worried about the opinions of other students, stop. They’re worried about your opinion of them too. It’s a vicious circle and will get you nowhere.
If nothing else, talk to the teacher after class or by email. This low-profile tactic was my favorite and always served me well. It made sure that I never suffered …
The Failure To Ask For Special Treatment
It’s a little-known fact that you can influence the course of your education and tailor much of it to your needs.
For example, one of the most exciting third-year courses I ever took was also … dreadfully dull!
It was called Shakespeare’s Contemporaries and the professor taught with such passion, that I couldn’t wait to hear him speak about weirdo playwrights like John Webster and Thomas Kyd. I admired him so much that I asked him to serve on my doctoral defence committee many years later. To my honor, he did.
The only problem during that seminar course was … the other students. I’m sorry to say this, but many were duds. They showed up unprepared and didn’t interact with this most excellent professor. As a seminar course, there were no lectures as such and the purpose was to have student-driven discussion.
Anyhow, as much as I loved listening to the professor, it also pained me to see him wrestle with my unprepared peers. One day after class, I approached him with trembling hands and asked him one of the most important and powerful questions of my academic life:
May I Have Alternative Assignments?
Instead of showing up for class to get my participation grade, I wanted to write extra essays to make up for the missing marks. Otherwise, I would need either to skip class or drop the course altogether.
Well, the professor seemed to understand exactly my needs and I wound up completing most of that course on my own. I even passed with an A+.
I went on to ask that question of professors again and again, ultimately customizing my entire undergraduate and graduate programs entirely to suit my needs – such as spending hours of study time in dark closets. 😉
Speaking of talking with your instructors, you also need to avoid …
The Failure To Speak With Other
Students About Your Studies
Yes, I know. Most of the time, the last thing you want is more of the same after a long session in class.
But if you do it right, you can learn more by revisiting your topic with others in some pleasant and exciting ways.
For example, after I dropped out of high school and returned, I had my first study partner. We took the advanced literature course instead of normal English 12 and it had so much reading, we split it between us.
Leslie would read, for example, John Donne and unpack it for me. I would read the extract from Paradise Lost and lay out all the cool things Satan says when he first lands in the pit.
That way, when I finally got around to reading her half of the load and she to mine, we knew exactly what we were looking for. It was kind of like seeing a movie again for the first time after many years. Plus, we had notes from class to round out our studies and guide our discussions.
When it came time to take the tests and write the in-class essays, we were both in top form. We knew the material inside and out. In the years since, I have done this with study groups large and small and we teach each other the key points from books we read.
Heck, it even happens in a certain way through the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, such as when people tell me about the best parts of books they’ve read and I zip out my own study notes. You have heard The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci episode, right?
Without Study Groups, Students Fail To
Encourage And Motivate Each Other
Look, you don’t need to exaggerate it. But if you’re not meeting with other students outside of class, it’s impossible for you to notice when they’ve explained something really well in a relaxed environment. Of course, you can pat each other on the back for things said in class, but it’s not the same thing.
Plus, there’s power in generating ideas together. You also get to frame time by meeting on a predetermined schedule and using something like Roberts Rules to control the flow.
Study groups can also help you avoid …
The Failure To Be Clear And Realistic
Yes, it sucks cold beans, but when you’re a student, you’re being measured. And whether you pass or fail, the metrics make a mark and condition your confidence.
In this world, you need all the confidence you can get!
But by studying together, you’ll also be talking about deadlines and the conditions of the game. This process will keep your eye on the ball and guide you to the target. You just need to avoid …
The Failure Of Letting Worry And Stress Rule Your Mind
If you’ve been following along, you’re already way ahead on this one. You’ve got a cozy study place, the shotgun of your schedule racked, your teachers in the palm of your hand and a powerful study group.
These conditions themselves will reduce stress to a bare minimum. You probably won’t even feel it.
But why not take preemptive measures to make sure stress can’t rise up unnoticed? It’s easy if you’ll just meditate, sleep and eat a memory friendly diet.
Speaking of diets, to help you sleep, eat better and have way more time, don’t fall prey to the …
Failure To Hit The Kill Switch
Do you want to choose how to live your life? Or would you prefer to have it chosen for you?
Keep watching TV and farting around on social media and you’re giving up your right to be free.
I know that sounds harsh, but all appearances suggest that TV, social media and other digital delights like video games and instant messaging create dopamine spikes in the brain. Unfortunately, we get addicted to these, which can reduce concentration and create impulsivity that makes it difficult to get things done.
The best way around this?
Put Borders Around Your Mind Candy Binges
Here’s a simple trick:
Just as you should get all the most important activities finished before you switch on the computer and get tossed by the sea of email messages and social media, vow to stop all of it by a set hour.
My preference is 9 pm with 10 pm as the absolute maximum outer limit. Sure, I break this rule once in awhile of something needs to get done, but rarely by more than 30 minutes. The rule itself helps to contain any attempts at breaking it.
Plus, I watch programs with limits and check Facebook only once a day. Email gets a bit more attention, but even that I try to limit to three sessions per day.
Not only that, but my iPhone doesn’t receive calls, receive or send texts or have roaming Internet. It is simply for writing, reading and language study. It truly is a smartphone and I have a tiny old Motorola for handling the rest.
You may not want or need to be that extreme, but please, above all, avoid …
The Failure To Realize That Focus Is Your
Number One Asset As A Student And Lifelong Learner
More than that, focus is the future. As more and more things compete for our attention, those who can avoid all the failures discussed in this post will rule the world. Those who sink in the mire of unproductive lives and disorganized confusion will be their slaves.
That’s why the penultimate failure is so important to avoid.
The Failure To Be Mentored
Most students chase after tutors – or get forced into having them by well-meaning parents. Sorry to break it to you, bit most tutoring is a waste of time, money and energy.
Because most tutors look at your work and explain it to you. Or they babysit you while you complete tasks you should be able to do on your own.
A mentor, on the other hand, doesn’t bother with any of that. A mentor shows you how not to need a tutor at all by modeling effective study skills, lifestyle habits and teacher management. A mentor lives the way you want to be and will never be caught dead lapping up a pay check to tutor others. A mentor is too busy modeling others higher up the ladder and helping those a few rungs down.
How do you find a mentor? Well, that’s a topic all on its own, but I recommend taking (Jimmy’s course with Martin). That’ll put you in good stead, and if you execute, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams with the help of a carefully identified individual who has the qualities and accomplishments to which you aspire.
All these things said, above all you need to avoid the most tragic failure of all:
The Failure To Develop Your Memory Abilities
The most shocking thing in the world is that the simple memory skills that help students the most are taught in schools the least.
One can go on and on about why, and perhaps it really is a capitalist conspiracy.
So what do you say? Are you ready to take action and stop failing as a student?
Of course you are. Start using the tips you’ve just learned and achieve the success you deserve. I’m rooting for you! 🙂
What If I Wanted To Memorize Entire Chapters From A Textbook
Apr 08 2016
Rank #9: Want Unlimited Memory? Get This Book!
In this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, we’re looking in depth at the new book Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley. The pros, the cons and everything in-between.
Kevin Horsley’s recent book, Unlimited Memory is worth your time. If you’re a student and user of memory techniques, this written version of the podcast will tell you why.
There Are No New Memory Techniques Under the Sun … Or Are There?
As most people interested in the art of memory techniques know, there’s nothing new under the sun. The memory improvement methods were invented thousands of years ago and refinements have been slim.
But that doesn’t mean that innovations haven’t occurred. Not only that, but memory techniques improve every time someone takes up using them and feels the power of empowered recall. And that’s why no matter where you are in your journey as a memorizer, Horsley’s book merits your full attention.
Because if you’ve never learned memory techniques before, his straightforward and energetic manner will serve as a great introduction to memory improvement.
And if you’re already an old hat with using mnemonics but have lapsed, Horsley will inspire you to get back in the saddle.
New Ways To Think About Old Techniques
Plus, you’ll find new ways to think about the techniques. Fresh perspectives can be more valuable than the techniques themselves in some cases if they inspire you to keep going. And the book is filled with great quotes that place memory techniques in interesting new contexts. In fact, every single one is worth committing to memory.
Horsley’s quotable too. “Conflict,” he points out, “is the opposite of concentration,” and much of the book talks about removing everything that gets in the way of your progress so that you can focus on.
Horsley’s point about conflict in this context should be confused with having conflict in your associative-imagery, however. Although I’m not interested in being critical of the book, it is slim on how to include rigorous to help you
a) memorize information and …
b) recall it.
Mnemonic Examples On Almost Every Page
For those who feel the need for examples, you couldn’t find more to choose from. For each principle, you get tonnes of written illustration to imagine along with. From a pedagogical standpoint, this may be overkill and the book lacks some guidance on how to be creative and “see” those images in your mind.
In terms of visuals, there are a couple throughout the book, with the illustrations limited mostly to explaining number memorization using the Major Method. I personally like the limited number of illustrations because it is important to recreate what you see in your mind, not what others see. This is why the overkill on text-based images can help you so long as you work at recreating them in your mind.
Use These Powerful Visualization Exercises
If you would like some fast and easy exercises for developing your visual imagination, try looking at paintings and then recreating them in your mind. You can also verbally express them on paper in a short paragraph and use what you’ve written as the basis for recreating the imagery in your imagination.
And please realize that you don’t need to literally “see” the images in your mind in order to increase your memory power when using this memory technique. It doesn’t have to be high-definition television. Verbal expression in your mind (even without writing the words down) can be just as powerful.
But please do work on visualizing. And to develop the skill further, think about what being visual in your mind actually means to you. If you struggle in this area, you might be pleasantly surprised at how simply thinking through this issue and defining what imaginative visuality means to you can give you the basis for truly creating improvement.
How To Take Your Brain To The Gym
Think of this defining process as laser targeting what’s really going on. It’s kind of like the difference between going to the gym to reduce general flabbiness and getting no results and going to the gym with a trainer who knows exactly which muscles to develop so that you burn the most calories. And of course you need to eat the right foods to support this process, which in the case of developing your visual imagination means looking at art on a regular basis and mentally recreating it.
Horsely uses the gym metaphor himself when he talks about memory training. He points out that no one is born ripped out with big muscles. They must be trained. The same goes for memory power. Your mind is a muscle and you can develop it. Even just reading about memory techniques can help, but nothing beats getting into the gym and pumping the iron of actually memorizing information that can help improve your life.
The Most Interesting Practice Items You’ll Ever Find In A Memory Improvement Book
And that’s a cool feature of Unlimited Memory. Unlike so many memory training books that guide you through memorizing lists of objects and food items for your next grocery item, Horsely is a bit more creative in his suggested practice items. You’ll have to check him out to see what I mean. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and Unlimited Memory is one of the strongest books you’ll find in the department of giving you great practice material that serves more than one purpose.
If you’re looking for in-depth training on Memory Palace construction, you may be a little disappointed, however. The Method Loci is covered, but the instruction lacks the nitty-gritty matters of making sure the path is linear and not crossing your own path. Following these principles will limit confusing yourself and spending unnecessary mental energy while maximizing your attention on decoding the associative-imagery you have no problems finding.
Criticisms completed, let’s return to the good stuff – but please don’t let my nitpicking dissuade you from reading Horsely’s Unlimited Memory. It is a powerful resource and I intend these comments to supplement the book rather than poke a stick at it. You can, in truth, never read enough books about memory improvement even if not all of them are created equal.
Learn How To Eliminate All Your Negative Memory Beliefs
And Unlimited Memory excels in teaching the cost of negative beliefs and replacing them with constructive ideas that propel you into positivity. For example, Horsley encourages you to keep your mind open while showing you all of the little thoughts that are constantly working to shut your open mindedness down. This will help keep you on the path towards experimenting with memory techniques and getting results.
Unlimited Memory Is Also An Amazing Research Memory Resource
Horsely is also tremendously generous in sharing the books he’s read and the fruits of his research. Not just what he’s read about memory, but self-development books too. You’ll want to supplement your reading of these as well.
And this such a powerful area that really makes the difference in a memory book. Without pointing you to other resources, so many books on memory development rob you of the chance to take the next steps in this field of specialization, which will always involve reading one more book. After all, the best books on memory are always yet to come.
As Phil Chambers says in this podcast interview, the limits of memory improvement have yet to be reached. And as we push forward into new frontiers, new books documenting and teaching the processes will emerge. I hope Horsely will be there to write again.
In sum, Horsely’s Unlimited Memory is a powerful introduction to memory techniques and you cannot go wrong because he points you to other reading and gives you much more interesting examples to start off with. And if you’re already on the path, you’ll find a good review and interesting perspectives. You simply cannot lose by reading Unlimited Memory.
Further Reading & Listening
Remembering the Presidents by Kevin Horsley
Moonwalking with Einstein on Amazon
The Art of Memory on Wikipedia
Jan 09 2015
Rank #10: 5 Memory Palace Examples To Improve Your Memory Training Practice
Have you been looking for Memory Palace examples?
If so, they can be tough to find.
And some of the details in a classic text like The Art of Memory by Frances Yates make it all the more so. As she admits, she never actually used the techniques she spent so much time describing.
And good visual examples are marred because many come to the memory tradition through Sherlock Holmes, which badly misrepresents it with the term, “Mind Palace.”
Plus, people use terms like “peg word system” and “Method of Loci” when looking for Memory Palace training, and it can all get a bit confusing.
Although we can’t cover every type of Memory Palace, get this:
On this page I’ll give you 5 powerful Memory Palace examples you can use to improve your memory training practice.
Now that you have enjoyed that broad overview of Memory Palace Training Exercises and know what to expect, let’s properly define the Memory Palace technique.
Why Nearly Every Memory Technique Serves
As A Method Of Loci Example
This point might be hard to grasp at first, but this is important:
The Memory Palace, sometimes called the Method of Loci, is based on the same core principle that governs all information.
This principle is space.
You see, your brain encodes information chemically in the brain.Each neuron and neural network in your brain exists in space - the space of your brain.Click To Tweet
And according to Stephen Kosslyn, there’s a kind of one-to-one correspondence between information out in the world and where your brain stores it in the brain.
In other words:
Your Brain Is A Memory Palace Book
Hear me out:
Imagine that your brain really was a book.
And each page of that book is covered in words.
Now imagine that each page in that book is a neural network that binds all of its words.
Likewise, the neural networks in your brain bind the neuronal chemicals that store you memories.
Of course, the brain and memory are much more complex than any metaphor or analogy can express.
And when you see historical examples like this…
…it can be extremely frustrating!
But never fear. We’re going to make the process much, much simpler for you today.
Because all of this leads to the same conclusion:
If Your Brain Is Like A Computer…
It’s More Like A Fancy, Streamlined Kindle Than A Laptop!
Think about it:
If a book is an information storage and retrieval device that uses the space of pages, then the computer version of books do pretty much the same thing.
This fact means that your Kindle app also stores each word in space on a hard drive and a screen.
And so if you think about how books and apps relate to your memory…
The Ultimate Mind Palace App Is Your Brain!
Isn’t that exciting?
I sure think so. And that’s why I produce so much Memory Palace training for the world.
It’s also why I help people simplify the process so it doesn’t look so freakin’ complex like the Camillo example.
So let me ask you…
Do You Have A Memory Palace Sherlock Would Admire?
We’re going to get back to the all-important point about space in a moment. But first:
To create a proper Memory Palace in the space of your brain, it’s important to move beyond fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes and get the right Memory Palace training:
Next, turn your brain into a Memory Palace app by studying from the best types of Memory Palaces.
1. The Bird’s-eye/3rd Person Memory Palace
This kind of Memory Palace involves looking down through the roof on a building. It’s as if you’re looking down at a floor plan.
As you can see, I’ve drawn this image by hand.
This step is important because it trains your brain to think about the space a little bit differently – from a new perspective that helps develop your mental rotation skills.
This drawing refers to this space in Berlin:
In fact, my friend and fellow memory expert Jonathan Levi did just that after I showed him how to do so for his TEDx presentation:
I recently gave a TEDx presentation myself from memory, so please check back here soon for the video.
Basically, the process is simple:
- Select a location suited to creating a Memory Palace (usually a familiar building, but parks and other locations will do)
- Get out a sheet of paper, ideally in a Memory Journal devoted to Memory Palace creation.
- Draw the Memory Palace.
- Strategically structure your course through the Memory Palace.
- Practice it mentally.
- Use it to memorize something by drawing upon the tools of Magnetic Association
If you’re stuck on what locations to use, How to Find Memory Palaces will help.
If you need help with creating the imagery, these elaborative encoding exercises should be useful to you.
The cool thing about that TEDx picture above is that I’ve already used the process I just described to turn the theatre into a Memory Palace. And it works great!
2. The 2nd Person Memory Palace
In this kind of Memory Palace, you look at yourself or a Bridging Figure move through your Memory Palace as if through the lens of an external camera.
This is not a replacement for drawing the Memory Palaces, but a different way of thinking and experiencing the navigation process.
3. The 1st Person Memory Palace
Using this kind of Memory Palace, here’s what happens:
You imagine yourself in the Memory Palace. You then imagine yourself seeing the journey you are following through your own eyes.
You can also pretend to be a character in a video game, series or movie and see through the eyes of that character.
For example, using an outdoor Memory Palace, I could imagine being this Giordano Bruno statue and see parts of Rome I’ve created as Memory Palace as if through his eyes:
Anthony Metivier with the Giordano Bruno statue in Rome.
4. The Virtual Memory Palace
At some level, all Memory Palaces are Virtual Memory Palaces.
You are creating an imaginary construct. This construct is based on a building or area you’ve seen in real life. You are navigating it “virtually” in your imagination.
That said, when you’re basing a Memory Palace on a location you’ve seen with your own eyes, you seriously reduce cognitive load.
Think about it this way:
When you last moved into a new home, did you have to work hard to memorize the layout?
Probably not. That’s what makes calling it to mind so easy.
But if you’re using a video game as a Memory Palace, not only do you have learn the layout in a completely different way.
You also have to re-create that layout using more mental resources because you’ve never really been there.
This not may not be true for all people.
But I think for most us, Virtual Memory Palaces will cost more time and energy than they are worth.
That said, Idriz Zogaj shares some wisdom on the practice that you might find useful.
5. The Magnetic Memory Palace
This kind of Memory Palace lets you fuse all the first four approaches together into one seamless Memory Palace strategy.
Recall Rehearsal also makes memory practice feel a lot like a Memory Palace game!
In fact, when you use the Magnetic Memory Method tools of…
- Sea shelling
- The Pillar Technique
- Ample use of Magnetic Bridging Figures
- Recall Rehearsal
- The Big 5 of Learning (Also called the levels of processing)
Everything gets much easier. That’s because it becomes more fun.
Not only that, but the Magnetic Memory Palace, when used as part of a full Memory Palace Network, makes Recall Rehearsal faster and easier as well.
(Recall Rehearsal is a fast and fun “memory game” way to get any information into long-term memory quickly.)
As a bonus, there’s also a way to turn your Memory Palaces into Mind Maps and vice versa. These mind mapping examples show you how.
It all makes for great Memory Palace training exercise don’t you agree?
The Best Memory Palace For Studying For
School Or Large Learning Projects?
Now, you might wonder, which of these Memory Palace approaches are best for studying for learning.
There’s no perfect answer, but here’s the very good news:
Memory techniques are best learned through experimentation and activities like completed these sensory memory exercises.
And I would suggest that you learn to use a Magnetic Memory Palace as quickly as possible. Then learn How To Renovate A Memory Palace.
The first three options require too much time and energy. You’ll spend more time visualizing your Memory Palace and your journey through it than necessary.
The Ultimate Truth About Memory Palace Examples & Exercises
Always remember that memory champions simply don’t have time to visualize their Memory Palaces.
They might “see” glimpses, but there’s something quite different going on.
Memory athlete Alex Mullen
For example, memory expert and memory athlete Alex Mullen can memorize a deck of cards fast.
He’s also very good with medical terminology.
But there’s no time for adding undue cognitive load to the process.
And anyone can learn to reduce the need to visualize their Memory Palaces and journeys with just a bit of practice.
Practice Using Your Brain And You’ll Be The
Best Memory Palace App On The Planet
There are a lot of Memory Palace software programs available. Memory Filer is one of the more interesting ones.
But, even as the creator of this app admits, all memory apps present a deviation from developing true memory skills.
What kind of skills?
The Giordano Bruno memory skills of legend.
For thousands of years people managed to memorize a textbook without apps or programs.
In fact, it might be precisely because computers have created Digital Amnesia that people no longer pick up these high level memory skills more often.
Why Real Memory Palace Training Is Always Organic
For research purposes, I’ve spent a lot of time in Memory Palace training with apps.
This activity has always been interesting, but ultimately always a waste of time.
When you train your memory to use a Memory Palace with an app, you’re training in a digital environment.
And if you want to remember names at events, that will give you a bit of an advantage.
The only examples that matter involve the practice memorizing names at real events – unassisted by technology.
And I have found that training for names using a Memory Palace reduces my skills instead of increasing them.
And little wonder:Real-life events do not take place on apps - they happen in the world!Click To Tweet
Just ask Jesse Villalobos about how he got a promotion, featured on this Magnetic Memory Method Review.
The Best Memory Palace Examples For Language Learning?
If you want to learn a language, you might like to use a Memory Palace strategy.
There are many ways to proceed, but I’ve found the best involves creating a Magnetic Memory Palace Network around the alphabet.
The alphabet is an interesting mental tool that exists in space. The letter B falls to the right of the letter A, R falls to the left of S and so on.
In other words, the alphabet is a fixed linking system that everyone knows by default – exactly like you know the layout of your home. This understanding makes memory training far more powerful than the old fashioned “method of loci” will ever be.
And that’s why it’s so easy for each letter of the alphabet can serve as a kind of mnemonic peg system you attach to a building.
How To Practice The Memory Palace Technique
I suggest that you start with just one Magnetic Memory Palace Network first.
Then create another one until you fully feel the effects of spatial memory working its magic in your mind.
You’ll begin to sense exactly why the Memory Palace is the most powerful technique and why all the other techniques, including the Major Method, are all spatial in nature.
If you don’t know how much information to memorize, roll a dice.
Magnetic Memory Method student Adolfo Artigas has a 100-sided die he uses, and it makes it fast and easy to practice the Memory Palaces you create without having to think about how much information you’re going to focus on.
We’ve got a video about how he does that for mental relief while attending university classes in our detailed training on note taking using memory techniques.
That’s all for now, but I hope that these Memory Palace examples have given you some food for thought and ideas to model for your own memory improvement practice.
For more examples, see Improve My Memory: 3 Memory Palace Success Stories.
Then let me know in the comments below if you have thoughts or questions.
You got this!
Aug 16 2018
Rank #11: Why They Don’t Teach Learning And Memory Techniques In Schools
No question about learning and memory enters my inbox more often than than “why aren’t these memory techniques taught in schools?”
The question reeks of conspiracy.
It creates pictures of entire nations hoping to keep their children in ignorance so they will become mindless slaves working for the state.
But worse than all of that paranoia …
The question is …
First off, memory techniques are taught in schools.
I recognize this simple fact even if once upon a time I dropped out without a high school degree (part one of this three-part series) and mercifully figured out what to go back to school for (part two).
How are memory techniques already used in schools?
How about the song we teach children to help them remember the alphabet? Its melody is a memory technique, loud and clear.
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for music is a memory technique.
We have simple mnemonics for astronomy, art, math, biology, geography and chemistry.
Heck, just search Wikipedia for “list of mnemonics” and you’ll find more than you can shake a stick at.
But Are Simple Mnemonics Enough?
That’s the real question at hand.
Because the problem is that a lot of the images and word play you’ll find on that Wikipedia page are useless.
Worse than useless, they create a ton of overwhelm.
Because they don’t come with any understanding. They’re not loaded with strategy …
They Have No Method …
And that’s why the Magnetic Memory Method is such a roaring success.
No, not for everyone. Not everyone wants to learn how to think about memory. Many people want formulas, gimmicks and “systems.”
I’m sorry, but that’s not reality.
And it’s not what we do in the Magnetic Memory Method Family.
Far from it. Instead of pretending that there’s some kind of fix all system that will magically improve your memory for all things forever and ever amen …
We Break Memory Techniques Down To The Basics
And once that’s done, we understand the how, the why and the what.
So that it doesn’t hurt so much to learn. Here’s why you feel pain with learning, by the way (thanks to Miklós in the SuperLearner community for bringing it to our attention):
It’s even easier to stop the pain than the video suggests.
By making sure that you understand how to really get results from the techniques by aligning them with your real reasons for learning, remembering and recalling information.
It’s often not what it seems.
Because here’s the deal …
At the Magnetic Memory Method Headquarters, I strive to achieve just one thing:
Mastery over your memory.
Mastery over the rate at which you learn.
Mastery over the pain of forgetfulness.
So That You Never Have To Feel That Pain Again!
But it’s not going to happen without study.
It’s not going to happen without effort.
It’s not going to happen without creating and using Memory Palaces.
Above all, it’s not going to happen without consistency of effort (which your Wise Advocate can help you with).
And that’s what’s so cool about the Magnetic Memory Method.
If you’ve been following the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, you’ve heard the stories of success. Just one for today:
These success stories with learning and memory techniques all boil down to one thing:
Learning the techniques.
Using the techniques.
Analyzing your results and then improving your abilities using them.
The best part?
I’ve had the chance to teach the Magnetic Memory Method to some of the finest students on the planet.
And guess what?
Success Leaves Clues
All of the most successful students share one thing in common.
They don’t wait around waiting for success to happen!
They invest in themselves.
They study the material they’ve invested in.
They take action.
They experiment, explore and when they’re done, they experiment and explore some more.
USA memory champion and memory expert John Graham can help in this area with his ideas about challenge-stacking too.
Having The Humility To Learn Is A Skill
What I’ve learned from all of the Magnetic Memory Method success stories is that everything begins with a decision.
It’s a decision to set aside time to learn.
To really learn.
I’ve done it myself. After years of success with my own memory and as a memory trainer, I went to learn from one of the best on the planet.
Not just to collect data and “spy” on the competition.
To Truly Learn
As a result, I’m better for it. In fact, I still buy books and courses from people. Some are from authors who help only a fraction of the audience the Magnetic Memory Method has gathered. Some are from towering figures who practically rule the memory world.
I’m talking about taking some courses that cost 4x the amount of the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass and Mastermind combined.
Yes! Memory improvement courses that expensive really do exist!
The Best Always Invest In Themselves
Here’s the thing:
Even when you get to the top – which is incredibly rare – you still have to keep learning. And let’s not beat around the bush:
The ones who sail past the obstacles in life are the ones who are in motion to begin with.
Wouldn’t you like to be in motion?
Of course you would. You just need to get started with learning and memory techniques.
And the best part about them is that learning can be fun. Especially with these 21 study tips under your belt.
Learning how to learn doesn’t have to be the horrid and depressing playground of the school system where everyone winds up asking, “Why don’t they teach the most important skills in the world in school?”
Again, that isn’t the real question.
Let’s Ask The Really Important Questions
About Learning And Memory
The really important questions have to do with the quality of the memory techniques you study and the quality of the action YOU take.
And let’s face it:
The quality of your action comes down to the quality of the philosophy behind the education.
And my philosophy of learning and memory is that you need someone to teach you how to fish, not someone to do the fishing for you.
Mar 02 2017
Rank #12: 3 Blazing Fast Ways To Increase Memory Retention
Memory retention… what the heck is it? Is it worth worrying about? If so, can it be improved?
We’re going to cover memory retention on this page and give you three blazing fast ways you can increase your ability to retain information.
The Simplest Definition Of Memory Retention
Overall, this term from the world of memory science is simply defined:
It is the ability to keep any information for different periods of time for the purpose of using it in the future.
And so if someone gives you their name, but you can’t use their name in a conversation, you haven’t retained it.
Why exactly we retain some things and not others is the subject for another post, but basically, we don’t really need a more robust definition for memory training purposes.
Nonetheless, you might be wondering about the differences between short term memory and long term memory when it comes to memory retention.
These are all great questions that we’ll be covering in the future, so make sure you have this so you’ll be notified:
Now, another question people ask is…
Why Is Memory Retention Important?
In addition to practical matters like remembering names, passing exams and learning new languages, memory retention helps you connect with yourself.
Think about it:
Every time you can’t recall information about your own life… it feels kind of weird, if not outright painful.
Self-punishment ensues and usually that only exacerbates the memory problems you might be facing.
So with an eye to helping you feel more connected with yourself, let’s dive into three rapid ways you can increase memory retention.
How to Increase Memory Retention in 3 Steps
1. Take Better Care Of Your Brain
Look, I know everyone wants memory techniques that are easy and fun to use.
However, it only makes sense to care for the engine that makes memory possible in the first place.
For example, many people who complain of brain fog don’t need memory techniques on their own. They simply aren’t eating well.
Although diet is a tricky matter, you’ll find certain foods help improve memory better than others.
Diet has been a huge problem for me throughout my life, but I’ve one a lot to fix it and experienced much better memory as a result.
In my case, chronic pain has been the most mentally taxing and distracting problem.
Pain makes paying attention difficult.
When you can’t pay attention to information, memory retention goes out the window.
Reduce the pain, and your ability to pay attention and retain information in memory automatically goes up.
(And no, in case you’re wondering, these memory improvement vitamins are unlikely to help.)
Sleep Secrets for Better Memory Few People Consider
Next, we have sleep.
Although you might not normally think of it this way, not having enough sleep also creates pain the interrupts the ability to pay attention.
Being groggy and irritated, for example, is a kind of pain.
Plus, the brain simply cannot perform as well unrested as it can when you’re getting enough sleep.
What are the secrets?
- Computer curfew
- Journaling by hand, including gratitude journaling
- Planning the next day’s activities
- Bedtime rituals
- Morning memory fitness activities, such as dream recall
Just by attending to diet and sleep (and stopping smoking), you can improve your memory retention, and it will happen faster than you might think.
2. Get Regular Memory Exercise
One of the easiest ways to improve memory retention is to regularly use your memory.
There are at least two kinds of memory exercise:
Active and passive.
I’ve got a wide variety of brain exercises you can play with, and here’s a condensed version of my favorite from the passive category.
It’s called The Four Details Exercise. All you do is notice 4 details about a person.
Don’t use any memory techniques. Just observe.
Later in the day, ask yourself to recall those details.
No Need To Give Yourself A Grade
It’s not a right or wrong memory retention test. It’s just a quick jog to make sure that you’re giving your memory regular exercise.
Active memory exercises for increasing retention might include using memory techniques. Here’s where “right and wrong” comes into play, and that’s all part of the fun.
For example, you can memorize a deck of cards and work on increasing either your speed of encoding, or the volume you can encode. Test yourself for accuracy of retention over different stretches of time (5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, etc).
You can increase speed and volume with names, vocabulary, abstract shapes, numbers and even verbatim texts like song lyrics or poems.
Likewise, you can actively memorize vocabulary, historical dates, or the names of everyone in a company you want to work for (or already do).
3. Have A Long Term Learning Project
Okay, I know this doesn’t sound like a “blazing fast” tactic. But in reality, it is.
Learning a language or memorizing large texts that you focus on over the long term produces incredible short term benefits when it comes to memory retention.
Improvements will happen for you because, as you use memory techniques consistently, you’ll build up something called “memory reserve.”
This term means that the more you know, the more you can know.
Why You Should Learn A Language To Increase Your Ability To Retain Information
Take language learning, for example.
As soon as you know about 850 words, you have all the building blocks you need to snap on more and more vocabulary and phrases.
Each new word and phrase you add builds up your memory reserve.
And this memory reserve helps explain why many people find it easier to pick up their next language. They’ve become good at the skill of building their memory reserve.
When it comes to memorizing large texts, I’ve been doing this with some scriptures written in Sanskrit.
The more I memorize, the easier it becomes to memorize even more due to this effect of memory reserve.
For example, the pool of Magnetic Imagery grows. Having more to draw upon means fewer Magnetic Images are fired off with less effort.
You’ll find this is also true when memorizing texts in your mother tongue. The more you do it, the greater ease with which you can move through words, expressions, ideas and more.
And again, you don’t have to wait forever for the memory retention benefits to kick in.
How To Start Investing In Your Brain (And Keep Consistent)
Just get started.
I know that sounds simplistic, but how else would you do it?
Next, be consistent. That means showing up at least a little.
Ideally, you’ll train your brain every day, but four times a week is a bare minimum.
Before you know it, you’ll feel like you have a completely revived brain that can conquer the world of information overwhelm with ease.
Again, we’ll talk in the future more about things like short term, long term and working memory, but the reality is that all these aspects of memory work together.
By following the 3 simple tips in the following video companion to this post, you’ll be working them comprehensively, holistically, and, dare I say, Magnetically.
Jun 06 2019
Rank #13: How To Enhance Memory And Pass Any Test Or Exam
Ever Felt That Skull Melting Stress When Preparing For An Exam?
If so, this may be the most important information you ever hear and read. Download the episode and keep reading this post all the way to the end so that you never struggle with passing an exam again.
And if your schools days are over and you’re the parent of a student, be their hero and pass this information onto them.
These techniques work for everything you need to learn, even difficult topics like memorizing human anatomy.
How The Regeneration Of Your Cells Can Set The Stage For Making Your Memory Razor Sharp
Wanna know why you forget so much of the information you read?
It’s because we miss so much detail when we only listen or read a book once.
Not only that, but you’re a different person the second time around.
I learned this from my Uncle Walter. Unfortunately, he died in a train wreck, but he told me something I’ve never forgotten:
Read the most important books you’ve encountered at least once every seven years.
Every cell in your body will have been replaced, and you’ll be coming to it as a completely new human being.
Of course, if you’re re-reading memory improvement books, be careful. Even the best memory improvement books are sometimes wrong. No amount of rereading will fix that.
In any case, I’ve taken Walter’s advice to heart, but when it comes to podcasts and audiobooks and learning how to enhance memory, it’s possible to revisit them much sooner.
And I love using Audiobook Builder by Splasm in conjunction with my iPhone so that I can get in all that info super-fast without affecting the sound quality.
And today’s Q&A gives us the opportunity to talk about how to use this software in combination with the regeneration of your cells to learn and memorize everything you need to pass any exam:
Schoolwork Can Be A Ball
When memorizing textbooks, is there a good general guideline as to what key points to place in memory palaces? Only focusing on the most relevant information is a great way to save time when studying, and I am curious if you have a strategy as to what information is placed in a memory palace using your index card method. Are these key ideas derived from what is taught in lectures, or are they based on what is most interesting to you?
I have downloaded your video course Memory Secrets of an A+ student as well as read many books on memory, and your methods make learning and memorizing more fun and effective. I discovered that schoolwork can be a ball no matter what the subject is, all thanks to me stumbling upon you website.
This question is great.
And there are a lot of ways to answer it. For example, How To Memorize A Textbook remains the most popular episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.
But for now, the first thing I would say is that …
A Good Lecturer Will Make It Clear To You What Key Ideas Are Coming
For example, I used to write down all the “keywords” on the side of the chalkboard in a column. Students could literally “read” what I was saying and match them against the keywords. It seemed really effective because when the final quiz arrived, hardly anyone had trouble getting 98% or higher.
Not all lecturers do things like this, or even present structured talks. Sometimes I don’t follow a plan myself because I like to use tangents and ask questions in the middle of a lecture. In cases like these, it’s a matter of listening for what jumps out at you.
I also recommend taking no notes and recording the lecture. Some nice professors will even allow you to place your recording device on the podium.
If not, you can still get a decent recording if you sit in the first row.
And what are you going to do instead of taking notes?
Harness The Secret Power Of Doodling
Your mind will “scan” what’s being heard, and when something strikes you as a key point, write down one or two words in the middle of your doodle.
You can mindmap too if you want, but I like doodling.
I find that I can listen intently and deeply when doing this.
In fact, I’d hazard a guess that I’m paying far more attention than anyone else in the room precisely because I’ve got more than one representation center of my brain operating.
At least, that’s my speculation. And that speculation is a key part of learning how to enhance memory in many respects.
Here’s What To Do Next
Go home and listen to the lecture again with a Memory Palace prepared, and a stack of index cards as described in the How to Memorize a Textbook episode of the podcast.
If you’ve been given additional reading as part of the lecture, you might want to do that reading first before returning to the lecture.
Again, the most important information is going to be the stuff that leaps out at you as the most interesting first.
Because you’re more likely to remember this information without the assistance of mnemonics and Memory Palaces. You won’t have to go to the Method of Loci for this stuff – though later you can if you want. And it’s just good practice to do so.
But the point is that you go to your Memory Palaces primed with interest.
That will make your memory Magnetic.
And that way, the not so interesting stuff will stick with greater ease because you’ll be using the power of familiar locations and well-constructed Memory Palace principles.
And you’ll be connecting it to what interests you. But of course …
A Lot Depends On What The Instructor Is Looking For
So if you want to be a cutting edge student, here’s what you’ve got to do:
Go to the instructor.
Make an appointment if you have to.
Then ask the instructor to make the evaluation criteria clear to you. He or she may have a specific rubric.
And if you can – record this talk!
Because when you hand in your work or answer questions on an exam that don’t give you the results you were expecting, you have a record of this conversation.
Of course, you don’t want your teachers to feel like they’re under observation in a totalitarian state, but the fact of the matter is that you (or your parents) are paying their wages.
You deserve to have the requirements made available to you in crisp, clear and sparkling detail.
And That’s How You Know What To Focus On In Your Studies
It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
1) Pay attention to the things that jump out at you. If you’re interested in these details, they’ll be much more Magnetic. You’ll be memorizing them more for detail and ordered recall than anything else. They’ll also be a great “connecting” device for incorporating the information that you don’t find so interesting.
2) Know what the instructor wants and make sure you’ve memorized that information. When learning how to enhance memory for your studies, it only makes sense to focus on the information they want you to know. The rest is icing on the cake.
3) Come prepared with a well-formed Memory Palace. If you don’t know how, scroll up to the top of the page and register for my free Memory Palace Mastery course.
4) Perform proper Recall Rehearsal
5) Listen to this podcast with Scott Gosnell. He talks about a very special way to build a Memory Palace for prepping for exams.
I hope this guidance helps you out. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Note: The program mentioned at the end of this presentation is no longer available. A modified version of Memory Secrets of an A+ Student (now called The Masterplan) can be found in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass. If you’re interested in taking that memory training, here’s where to go next:
Mar 26 2015
Rank #14: Memory Improvement Tips From Dr. Gary Small
Have you ever wanted simple memory improvement tips that you can use straight out of the box?
If so, then you’re in full a real treat. On this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, Dr. Gary Small offers you some of the best ideas from his book, 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain.
It was such a pleasure speaking with memory training and brain health fitness expert Dr. Small that I’ve had the interview transcribed. You can read it below or download a PDF version of the interview using the link at the bottom of the transcription.
Why Even The Young Can’t Avoid Memory Loss
Anthony: Dr. Small, what is your first memory of being interested in the subject of memory?
Dr. Small: Well, I think I got interested in it when I started studying Alzheimer’s disease and geriatrics. When I got into the field of gerontology, I realized that one of the biggest problems we face is cognitive decline as we age. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of that decline. It turns out, before people get Alzheimer’s disease, they have milder memory complaints. There is just so much worry and concern among millions of people about these age-related memory slips and what we can do about them. That’s really how I got started.
Anthony: You mentioned in the book that memory can start decaying or getting worse even younger than we think. What is one of the typical ages that memory loss can start to occur?
Dr. Small: Usually people begin to notice it in their 40s and studies of neuropsychological testing, pencil and paper tests done on many, many research subjects, has found that for the average 40‑year-old a decline in memory performance can be detected. However, we have done some recent studies, collaborating with Gallop Poll, where we find that people even in their early 20s begin to start complaining about their memory. Now, their complaints are probably different from those of somebody who is in their 70s, but still the methods we’ve developed for the book apply to people of all ages.
Anthony: Given this wide age range, is there a common so to speak anti-memory activity that people are engaging in every day and if so what are those things and how can they be treated or how can people go about their daily activities differently so that they are honoring their memories and their brains?
Dr. Small: That is really what the book is about and it takes the latest science of the brain and explains it in a way that people can understand. It then translates that science into practical strategies that people can begin using.
In the 2-week program, we introduce them to these exercises, strategies and they gradually build up their mental strength, and memory power over that 2-week period and it is just long enough for those exercises to become habit-forming. It involves physical exercise, it involves mental stimulation, stress management, nutrition and learning techniques to compensate for any age-related memory challenges people are experiencing.
Can We Really Trust Memory Exercises To Ward Off Alzheimer’s?
Anthony: You mentioned a lot of different memory exercises in the book. I am wondering if you have a personal favorite out of them all that addresses some of the prevention of Alzheimer’s and just longevity in general that you enjoy the most that you do yourself?
Dr. Small: Let me just clarify. I do not know that the memory exercises will prevent Alzheimer’s, but I think that physical exercise very well may delay the onset of symptoms as will general mental stimulation and proper diet. What the memory exercises will do is to compensate for the decline so people can have a stronger memory longer even as their brains age.
If you look at all of these different exercises, it really boils down to two methods that we now call focus and frame. We need to focus our attention because the biggest reason people do not remember is they are simply not paying attention, they are not getting the information into their brains.
Frame is shorthand for trying to frame the information, providing a framework so that it has meaning. If something is meaningful, it will become memorable and we do that by using visual images. Our brains are hardwired to remember visually very effectively.
We can take a very common memory complaint like names and faces, forgetting names and faces, and teach people how to create visual images to link the name to the face. Therefore, if you meet Mr. Foreman, you might notice that he has a prominent forehead. You notice that distinguishing figure and that links it up with the name in a visual way.
The Shocking Truth About Visual Skills And Memory
Anthony: Many of the memory exercises do involve some sort of visual imagination, and one thing I hear from a lot of people is that they are just not visual. They are maybe more auditory or kinesthetic or conceptual. Is there any advice you would have who would feel they do not have the visual capacities that many of these exercises seem to call for?
Dr. Small: That gets down to a common principle that we want to train and not strain our brains and try to cross-train the brain. Everybody has innate strengths and weaknesses. In areas that are weak, it may be visual skills. Those can be built up gradually. In areas that are strong, we can leverage those strengths to help us compensate better. People who are better with auditory skills can say the name or word to themselves or think up a musical jingle that might help them remember something better.
The Minimalist Guide To Einstein’s Brain
Anthony: You mentioned in 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain a few times Einstein’s brain and maybe you can describe that a little bit. Why does not everyone have a brain automatically like Einstein’s brain?
Dr. Small: I think, to a certain degree, it is genetics. Let us face it some people are Einstein’s at birth and others are not. When they looked at Einstein’s brain remarkably, it looked very much like the average person’s brain except for this area called the corpus callosum, which is the connecting point between the right brain and the left brain. What we might theorize is that Professor Einstein was better able to process information quickly compared to the average person.
Another point we make in the book is that genetics is only part of the story. In fact, the MacArthur study on successful aging taught us for the average person nongenetic factors are more important to keeping your brain young. That is why we emphasize all the simple things that people can do every day to get their brains to function better and their memory to be sharper.
What Video Games Can Teach You About
Strengthening Or Harming Your Brain
Anthony: One of the interesting stories in the book is you talk about chiding your son for playing video games and there is a bit of a surprising twist at the end of the story. What is going on with video games and memory?
Dr. Small: It is complicated, but we do devote a whole chapter to brain games and what people can do to use them effectively. That was an incident where I was annoyed by my son playing some kind of a violent videogame. Knowing that this kind of repetitive videogame playing may not be great for his developing brain, I shouted to him, “Harry, get off of that video game and come downstairs and watch television with me.”
Of course, I thought how ridiculous that sounded, but in my mind, I was thinking we are watching a public television program, it is educational, we will have a conversation, but what I did not realize was that my son was playing the videogame with his friends. There was a conversation going on. It was a social interaction.
I think our relationship with this new technology is very complex. In some ways, it can cause wear and tear on our brains when we are spending too much time doing email or searching online doing repetitive tasks. On the other hand, the technology actually augments our biological memory.
We could pick and choose what we try to remember like names and faces and socially that is very important, but we do not need to remember birthdates and appointments. We can use programs for that and we can look at a lot of stuff up. In addition, there are new video games that actually train our brains. They can boost IQ or improve multitasking skills. I am very excited about the technology we use it wisely and do not overuse it.
How Classy Is The Neighborhood Of Your Brain?
Anthony: Speaking of technology, there is something really interesting that you talk about. The brain has kind of a relationship to memory and information where the age of a memory somehow determines where it is located in the brain, and that memories travel from one lobe to the next. I have this picture of sorting files through my computer and they move according to date and rearrange themselves. What is happening in this idea that memories age and then that determines where they are found in the brain?
Dr. Small: The brain is very complex organ and there is a lot of neuroscience research understanding how memories are consolidated. We describe how there are very fleeting momentary memories we call sensory memories that we all experience from moment to moment and we do not notice them. If we pay attention, or if there is an emotional component to the memory, it is more likely to be consolidated in an area that is called the hippocampus underneath the temples.
Once that happens, it is like an information highway as the memory becomes stronger as it becomes more long-term it moves towards the front part of the brain very gradually. They also reside throughout the brain depending on the type of memory. If it is a visual memory, it will be in the back of the brain because that is where the visual cortex is.
It is quite an interesting phenomenon. These memories, in a sense, live in neighborhoods, which explain why it is often difficult to remember some information, but when you are reminded of a neighboring memory, then the memory you are looking for comes back to you.
Is There A Way To End Your Struggle With “Senior Moments”?
Anthony: That is a very interesting metaphor. Given this neighborhood image where do memories go when people are having “senior moments?”
Dr. Small: Senior Moments are not going anywhere. Memory is very much like a filing cabinet. You have to file the information in the proper place and know where to look to pull it out. When we cannot find those memories, we are distracted by other memories so we are a little bit mixed up in our filing system, and we need some help in how to locate those files, which many of the memory techniques we teach help us do.
Anthony: Well heaven forbid that you were to lose your memory, but if that were to happen, is there one memory in particular that you would never want to lose if all else was to disappear?
Dr. Small: Those are such tough questions, and I think to me the memory I would not want to lose is the memory of the emotion of love because I think that is so important to all of us. It is such a strong compelling feeling. It really draws people together and it defines who we are as a species. Humans are very social animals and those positive emotions that we experience really make life so worthwhile.
Anthony: Speaking of love I really loved 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain. I am grateful and honored that you gave us the time to speak about your book for the audience of this podcast. What is coming up for you next?
Dr. Small: In the short term, I am doing a public lecture on the book this afternoon. I am continuing my research on memory and brain aging. My wife and I are continuing to work on a monthly newsletter, Dr. Gary Small’s Mind Health Report. We are putting our heads together for the next book. We have not quite decided what we are going to do but it will probably be in the general area where our interests lie and we are looking forward to continuing our work together.
Anthony: Great. Well again thank you so much and 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain is such an excellent book. I hope everybody listening goes out and gets it.
Dr. Small: Thank you and I appreciate it.
Dr. Small talking about his book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.
Apr 30 2015
Rank #15: How to Learn Faster and Remember More: 4 Easy Techniques
Have you ever sat down to learn faster with some new accelerated learning technique and thrown your hands up in the air?
No, not to catch a balloon or give a salute.
But because you were furious and frustrated?
And have you felt that a learning process was so hard that you just wanted to give up?
I hear you!
After all, I’ve put some of the toughest learning challenges in front of myself all the time.
Languages like Biblical Hebrew, German, Chinese, over 100 verses of Sanskrit.
Then there are the musical instruments I’ve learned like trombone, sitar and bass.
Plus I’ve used my ability to learn something at laser-fast speeds to help me run the memory website you’re reading now:
Hands-on mechanical tasks like figuring out how to spread the good news about memory techniques with videos, blogs and podcasts.
And in all cases, it takes grit and mental strength.
It takes tenacity.
Above all, success with learning quickly takes these…
4 Secret Ways To Make It So Easy
You Can Run Circles Around Everyone Else!
If you’re interested, I’d like to share these 4 secrets with you, plus another 4 in this video:
All I ask is that you read everything carefully and give at least ONE of these insights from my experience a serious try.
But let’s be clear:
Trying just one would be good. But …
50% would be great.
Why that would be downright Magnetic!
1. The Most Powerful Question Any Learner Can Ask
One of the reasons some people find the learning process so painful is that they don’t ask a simple question.
It’s a question that, when applied often, can unlock the nuclear power needed to drive you through some of the hardest missions in life.
It’s a question almost no learner asks.
Probably because it’s a bit tough for most people to wrap their heads around.
It sounds kind of selfish, after all.
The question is:
“What’s in it for me?”
But even if it has a selfish angle to it, this question is so important.
Because So Many Learners Are Trying To
Accomplish Outcomes For Everyone But Themselves!
Think about it:
You go to school and learn things to please the machine …
You get a medical degree to appease your family …
You study a language because it’s part of a degree …
Nothing wrong with any of that, unless …
None Of It Has To Do With What
You Authentically Want In Life!
And so it’s little wonder learning feels hard. If you’re the last person who gets a kick-back for all that effort, it’s always going to feel like you’re trying to chew through a brick wall.
Make it easier on yourself by learning something that has a definite payoff for the number one person that matters: You.
Because here’s the plain truth:
You’re a good person.
You want to serve others.
And you can change the world.
But it will never happen if you secretly hate the learning process because it just doesn’t serve your needs first.
Want a fast and easy way live authentically? Practice gratitude:
2. Why Comatose Zombies Can
Outlearn The Flash Any Day
Okay, that sub-headline might be a bit misleading.
What I mean to say is that you need to relax to learn.
Because here’s a fundamental truth:
Information flees from tension. But it’s Magnetically attracted to relaxation.
Let me say that again:Information flees from tension. But it’s Magnetically attracted to relaxation.Click To Tweet
And the more you know how to relax your brain, the more information will want to stick around. You’ll be able to slosh it around the mouth of your mind like fine wine and actually enjoy it for a change.
And what you enjoy… ?
Pleasure Is Instantly Easier To Remember!
The trick you need to understand when it comes to relaxing your mind is this:
Your mind is produced by your brain.
Your brain is a physical entity.
And that’s what makes the Memory Palace technique so powerful:
It’s something physical out in the world being used physically inside your material brain.
Don’t know how to make a Memory Palace? No problem…
And to get the most of the training, relax your mind each time before you use your memory.
That said, never try to relax your mind without relaxing your body first.
In fact, it’s very likely that the only way to truly relax your mind is by relaxing the body first.
So the next time you sit down to study, stretch a little first.
Focus on your breathing. Just 5 minutes a day, 4 times a week is scientifically proven to create better memory.
Attention paid to breathing will lower most of your resistances to learning and make everything easier.
You can also use your meditation time to walk through the Memory Palace Networks you create. As memory expert Boris Konrad has explained, active recall is essential for memory formation. What better way to practice it than when you’re already using meditation to stack the chips in your favor?
3. Understand That The Map Is Never The Territory –
But Maps Sure Do Help!
When I created this Infographic and Podcast episode teaching you how to realistically memorize a textbook, I had no idea people would find it so practical and useful.
After all, everybody asks me for “tips and tricks” that will let them memorize entire books.
But the truth is that this feat is rarely necessary. In fact, it’s probably never necessary.
But if you use the techniques I teach in that podcast to get a global overview of the book you need to read, you’ll have a map. This map will set the stage for your experience of the territory.
And that will give you laser-targeted tools for remembering the parts that matter. Proof:
When you can do that, you do better than just learn and remember. You also create knowledge.
And when you create knowledge, the speed at which you can learn grows exponentially. It feels good, creates energy and encouragement and keeps you on the path of continual growth.
Nothing difficult or painful about that.
4. The Magnetic Magnifying Glass Method
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you don’t know what you don’t know”? Tony Buzan mentioned it during our conversation some time ago on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.
If you want to make learning faster and easier, make sure to get yourself in orbit with that concept.
Because when you hold a magnifying glass to your own ignorance, you get real clear on what it is you need to learn. Without that clarity, it’s nearly impossible to make progress as a self-directed learner.
In other words, learning truly is hard and slow when you’re stumbling around blind in a cloud of unknowing.
But when you ask questions about what you know and don’t know about a topic, suddenly a lot of that fog is whisked away.
Want a simple exercise you can use for each and every learning project you ever undertake? I promise:
It’s easy, fun and speeds up everything.
Every time you take a class, attend a lecture, read a chapter, watch a video or even use an app, take a quick second to jot down everything you can remember.
Then beneath that, start asking questions about what it is you think was covered … but mysteriously can’t remember. This will help train your selective attention abilities.
Then make two plans:
One plan for how you’re going to continue to remember what you remembered.
Another plan for what you’re going to do to fill in the gaps so that you can remember the information you think flew over your head.
Simple. Elegant. Easy and effective.
Why Most People Prefer A Life Based On Excuses
A lot of people will go through a post like this, nod yes to each and every point and then carry on with their lives of learning desperation.
The reason why this happens, beyond just a bad way of drawing from their episodic memory, is simple:
It’s all contained in point number one.
If you missed it and care about the life of your memory and your mind, go over it again.
And if you feel like you’re resistant to any of the wisdom contained in this post, review the second point I’ve made.
If anything on the planet raises your hackles, a few simple brain exercises that take just a few minutes of your time could be a game changer for you.
And if you’d like a realistic way to remember everything of importance in any book or posts like these you encounter in the world, here are 7 more powerful tips that show you how to improve memory for studying.
For the true Magnetic Knight, point four will be the most precious of all. There’s a little comment section below where you can complete this part of the exercise. I’ll be around to help you fill in any gaps I may have missed.
I look forward to hearing from you, and until next time, keep learning and keep yourself Magnetic! 🙂
Jun 07 2017
Rank #16: From Mnemonics Beginner To Memory Palace Mastery with Sunil Khatri
Do you find memory techniques like the Memory Palace daunting?
Not sure where to begin with your Magnetic Imagery?
And are you having a hard time getting creative and wish you could just leave the “heavy lifting” to the experts?
Believe me, it’s not just you.
I receive so many emails from students of memory and lifelong learners just like you.
People searching for help…
Asking for mnemonic examples…
Guidance that will make creating and using their Memory Palaces easier…
Tips that will turn the average imagination into a fast-acting mnemonics dictionary.
Need A “Hand Up” With Memory Palace Creation
While I still believe you learn the most by doing it yourself by creating your own Memory Palaces and “00-99 P.A.O.” from “scratch,” I understand that people sometimes need a “hand up” to get started.
In fact, I’ve learned over the years that for some people, personal guidance is a key element. That’s why I created the MMM Memory Dojo. It’s a weekly option for MMM Masterclass members who need additional help with priming their minds for committing information to memory using memory techniques.
And since this option only has the value its members bring, I’m delighted to have some of the best and brightest thinkers about memory techniques participating in the Memory Dojo week after week.
On today’s episode of the Magnetic Memory Method podcast, my long-time student, Sunil Khatri, shares his experiences of progressing from a beginner memory pupil with a desire to learn Korean and Japanese, to a visionary app-builder, seeking to help students more easily develop and visualize spatial memory.
Just check out his concept for a Memory Palace memory training app that will help you memorize the Periodic Table of Elements:
Now, you may remember Sunil’s name, as he has guest-hosted the podcast before, detailing his Speech Success Story.
And if you are searching for an inspirational success story to motivate you to start creating your own victories in memory improvement, or perhaps need a bit of guidance, Sunil’s experience is brimming with answers.
Press play above now to hear Sunil and I share:
- How to make a great first (and lasting) impression on others by remembering their names
- How to use everyday surroundings in new ways to create memory palace networks
- The potential of apps as legitimate memory training tools
- All the most important details of Sunil’s massive success with learning Japanese using mnemonics
- Why you need a flexible memory method
- The truth about Using Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig for language learning
- How to develop memory reserve with memory techniques and language learning
- Writing as a study technique to commit terms to memory
- The importance of group discussions in experiencing success with mnemonics
- How virtual reality may be the future of memory techniques
EPISODE BONUS: Exciting Bridging Figure Mnemonic Example
It turns out that Sunil is also a pretty adventurous guy.
When he sent me this image I instantly realized he is now a great Bridging Figure:
Any time you can use images like these of people you know, you’re already using memory techniques better.
Because this image of Sunil skydiving is naturally exaggerated.
It’s also colorful, large in the frame, and indicates a lot of speed.
Keep an eye out for images of your friends and actors like these!
And as if this bonus from Sunil wasn’t enough, check out these…
Further Resources on the Web, This Podcast, and the MMM Blog:
Remembering the Kanji on Amazon
Feb 07 2019
Rank #17: 11 Empowering Things About Memory You Probably Do Not Know
Ever hear that crazy phrase, “knowledge is power”?
Sounds kind of cool, right? But have you ever asked yourself …
What The Heck Does That Silly Cliche Mean?
Well, “power,” it turns out, is an interesting concept. Especially when it comes to memory and memory improvement.
To begin, understand this:
People have defined it thousands of different ways throughout history.
Ever since I discovered it in university, I’ve always liked Michel Foucault’s definition. He’s a philosopher who you should check out sometime.
Don’t worry if you think philosophy is boring. Foucault didn’t dally around. He gets right down to defining it in many books. For Foucault, power amounts to “the ability to conduct the conduct of others.”
Now, let’s be honest:
Who In Their Right Mind Wouldn’t Want A Taste Of That?
And let’s be clear:
When it comes to memory improvement and using memory techniques as a way of life, that’s what we going for:
Power. Exactly as Michel Foucault defined.
Because if you’re using memory techniques to help you learn a language, guess what?
Speaking a language “controls” what others think. Just like my words are controlling what you think now.
Controlling what you’re thinking, feeling, deciding to do next.
And more than that …
Power Is Productive
It produces the next action in line.
When it comes to the power that using memory techniques creates, think of it this way:
If you’re using memory techniques for numbers so that you can quote SKU numbers at work or cite aspects of the law, you’re instantly better at controlling how your colleagues work with you.
Pretty neat, huh?
Well, hold on now, because it gets even better.
Because there are a lot of things about memory you probably don’t know.
And all of them will give you more power.
Which equals more control.
Particularly over the most important person in your life you need better control over.
So with all that in mind, let’s get started:
1. Memory Loss Starts At A Much
Younger Age Than Most People Think
Sad, but true.
We have this image that memory loss starts when you’re forty or older. Worse, we project the idea that struggles with memory belong to the elderly or people with Alzheimer’s.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Long before the age of digital amnesia, scientists knew that memory struggles begin already in our mid-20s, if not earlier.
And the more people relegate their memory activities to smartphones and computers, the more younger people start experiencing memory problems.
Don’t Blame The Machines For Everything!
Of course, we can’t just blame the machines or the questionable fact that they don’t teach learning and memory techniques in schools. (They do.)
This is what’s more important:
We’re exposing young people to information they don’t care about.
Want to help the young person in your life learn how to discover exactly what they care about to help guide their studies? Make sure you listen to the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast for the link to the listener only audiobook, The Ultimate Memory Improvement Secret.
I promise. That book will help.
And then giddy up on improving your memory. No matter how young and spry you think you are now, memory loss is always around the corner.
2. You Change Your Memories Every Time You Remember Them
I love that scene from Lost Highway.
For two reasons:
A) It exposes a fundamental truth about human behavior.
B) The whole movie is about how memories change merely by recalling them.
And it’s true.
Every time you remember something, you’re engaging in an exchange of chemicals.
You know this, right? Your mind is produced by your brain: soft, squishy material made up of all kinds of nutrients and acids.
The kind of stuff that aliens probably love to eat. 😉
And in that pool of chemical substances, sit your memories. Your memories are part of that stuff, not different from it.
Every time you access one of them, it’s like putting bread into a toaster.
And, as you know, bread that has been toasted ain’t never going back to being bread again. It’s different now, and different it shall remain.
3. Your Memory Is More Like A Neighborhood Than A Computer
Not only are your memories made of physical material, they are also dispersed like multiple spheres in a pinball machine.
Think of it the way Gary Small suggested when I interviewed him on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.
He explains that the computer metaphor for the human brain and memory is false.
Instead, your brain is like a series of neighborhoods, bigger and more complex than the biggest cities of the world.
And every time new information enters your “memory city,” it doesn’t book a room in a hotel someplace and wait patiently to be called for a business meeting when you need it.
Instead, the information is broken up and sent into many different homes in many different neighborhoods.
The Businessmen Your Memory Slices And Dices Everyday
Think of it like this:
Say that you learn a German phrase like, “Ich möchte mir etwas kaufen, aber ich weiß nicht was.” (I want to buy myself something, but I don’t know what.)
If that phrase was a businessman, your memory wouldn’t store him altogether in the same place.
Instead, it would take his hat and put it in one home in one neighborhood of your memory.
Then, in an entirely different neighborhood, your memory would deposit his briefcase. And that neighborhood might be just around the bend, or it might be hundreds of thousands of miles away.
And the division keeps going, taking each arm of the businessman to a unique location. It might even be the case that each individual toe goes to its own home in a variety of different neighborhoods.
Sounds Complex, Doesn’t It?
Well, that’s the miracle and challenge of memory. Next time you struggle to recall something because you’re missing a part (like a last name when you have the first name), understand that this is why:
Your memory stored the first and last name, just not necessarily in the same neighborhood of your “memory city.”
And this is why memory techniques are so fantastic, especially for remembering a lot of names at events:
When you use a Memory Palace, and particularly the Magnetic Memory Method, you’re rigging the game in your favor.
You are literally requesting that your mind store the information in a more compact way. You are creating connections that put you in control of information storage in ways that no computer can beat.
4. You Cash In On Your Memories Overnight
I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing about how important SLEEP DEFICIT page is for your memory.
I’m sorry. Get used to it. Nothing could be more important for your memory.
I’ve experienced a lot of sleep deficit over the past few years due to traveling the world in search of new Memory Palaces. I can tell you one thing:
Nothing hurts your memory more than exhaustion.
Because even with the most powerful memory techniques in the world, memory “consolidates” during sleep.
It seems to be related to the same way that we experience muscle growth during sleep. Work out all you want in the gym, but if you’re not putting in the snooze time, you’ll never see anything like the results you want.
Does Memory Consolidation Work If You’re Old?
Recent research shows that sleep consolidation might not be nearly as important for memory as an adult as it is for a younger person.
But in my own experiences as someone now in his forties, I can tell you that I still feel a huge difference. I’ve also done experiments with changing when I memorize Chinese vocabulary, and I do seem to have much stronger recall when I use the Magnetic Memory Method at night, rather than the morning.
Here’s the real kicker, though:
Practicing your memory first thing and before you go to bed.
5. Technology Can Augment Human Memory, But Also Harm It
Some of my friends think I’m a Luddite.
After all, I didn’t update my iPhone 4s until 2017. And even then I never used it as a phone anyway. It’s a computer for reading and writing.
All things told, all my devices are good for memory in certain contexts and I appreciate having them.
But we’re killing our memory abilities in so many ways. I talk about this a lot on my post about digital amnesia, so I’ll step off my soapbox for now.
Just please understand that we need balance in our life and that’s why vinyl records are so popular, not to mention physical journals (I recommend The Freedom Journal).
6. Repetition Can Be Fun
Most people don’t know this, but rote learning does have a fun button written into its code.
No, that’s a lie. Rote learning is always a crime against humanity.
If you have to repeat anything a zillion times or you’re bombing through flash cards without at least the assistance of some mnemonics, you’re doing it wrong.
No exposure to information should be without excitement. And every memory activity you engage in should CREATE energy, not CONSUME it.
Think of that the next time you repeat something mindlessly with the hope and the wish and the prayer that it will stick in your memory.
Remember: power is productive.
If rote learning and spaced-repetition software give you your jollies, rock on.
But if you’re sick of hammering your brain with same information and having it drain you of enthusiasm, get out into the real world and use a Memory Palace and the rest of the Magnetic Memory Method instead.
7. Human Memory (Probably) Has No Limits
People often think that their memory is like a sponge. If they bring in new information, they ask, won’t it squeeze the old stuff out?
The answer is no.
Memory is nothing like a sponge and there is no metaphor of “storage” or “absorption” that fits the bill.
It’s also important to understand that when we use the word “memory” we are mushing together all kinds of different memory?
There’s no way we can use them all up. And if you have a good Memory Palace technique by your side, here’s the thing:
You can ALWAYS find a building you’ve never been in before.
Get out your Memory Journal, make a quick sketch. Chart out your Magnetic Stations. And then use them to memorize some information.
It’s easy, fun and you don’t have to be a world traveler to do it. I’ll bet there are at least ten cafes and restaurants you haven’t been to in your city or town that would make glorious Memory Palaces.
You don’t even have to spend money in them to create your Memory Palaces. You could just go during off hours and tell them what you’re doing. Most will be okay with that.
If Not, Just Move On …
And if you don’t like restaurants or cafes, go to movie theaters. Go to libraries. Museums. Churches. Even well-structured parks can serve if you’re into outdoor Memory Palaces.
The point is to not trick yourself into thinking that you’re running out of Memory Palaces.
That can’t and won’t happen.
That’s called “Memory Palace Scarcity, ” and sadly it stops many people cold in their tracks.
Don’t let it happen to you.
8. You Probably Remember Less From
Ebooks Than Physical Books
I’ll bet you love Ebooks.
I know I sure do.
The problem is …
Why is this? Well, you can check out the research for yourself, but I have a pet theory.
And the theory is more than the obvious points that information is “located” inside of books in a way that it cannot be inside a computer.
In other words, it is probably useful to your memory that you know on a conscious or subconscious level that a piece of information was 1/4 or 3/4 of the way into a book. The location of the information within the physical space of the book is a kind of memory hook.
You don’t get that feeling in an Ebook, even though devices like Kindle will show you a percentage to give you a sense of progress.
I also don’t think it’s just about the physical differences between holding a book and holding a digital reader. Those elements are important too, but far more critical it seems to me is this:
Your Brain Is Chemical
Your brain is chemical. Books are chemical. And computers are chemical too …
And yet somehow … I don’t know how to explain it. And I’m happy to be dead wrong, but I just think we are at a strange remove from “digital ink” that doesn’t exist when you’ve got a book in your hand.
It may have to do with presence. The best way I can think of to explain it is to relate books to vinyl records. Check out this cool video from Vinyl Eyezz to expand your thinking on the matter. Then go buy something physical.
9. Memories Can Be Manufactured
Just as each memory transforms ever time you recall it, you can be compelled to create memories that never happened.
There are a lot of angles to this problem, some of which fall under the title of false memory syndrome.
But I think it’s more complex than that – and quite possibly sinister. For example, look at this seemingly innocent manufacturing of memory regarding a hot air balloon experience:
Then imagine that the cops have accused you of committing a murder.
Scary stuff, right?
Well, now that you know about this problem, you can fend off any threats that might emerge around it in your life.
And the best thing for it is to train your memory so that you’re starting off strong in the first place if trouble ever arises.
10. The First Memory Palace Probably
Comes From The Buddha, Not Ancient Greece
I love the story of Simonides of Ceos. It not only demonstrates just how easy it is to remember stories, but the story itself contains all the traits of what makes a story memorable.
But here’s the thing:
The idea of “location-based mnemonics,” (the sexier, but more accurate term for the Memory Palace technique) predates Simonides by a long time.
For example, many yogic and Buddhist rituals involved using parts of temples to recall passages of rituals. You might imagine a bridge in one corner of the temple, for example, and a black dog in another.
Then, during your meditation, you would mentally “visit” these Magnetic stations in the temple Memory Palace and decode them as part of completing the meditation.
Sure, they didn’t call it a Memory Palace and probably didn’t think of it as a memory technique.
But that’s what’s going on beyond a doubt. And the best part is that when you understand this relationship between space and memory, the role of churches of all stripes throughout history becomes much clearer.
Stations of the Cross, anyone?
11. Stories Filled With Emotion Are
The Easiest Information To Remember
Yesterday I ate a sandwich. It was good.
… not very memorable, is it?
Of course not.
But what if I told you that yesterday at 11:49 p.m., I was so ravenously hungry that a furious rage overtook me.
I hopped into a tank I stole from the local military and drove it through the wall of the nearest McDonald’s.
Then, with a wave of my magic wand, I made my mouth so big that I could fit all the food in the restaurant into my mouth.
I’m talking EVERYTHING. I vacuumed it in like I was the Hoover Vacuum King of Fast Food.
Then I burped a strawberry vanilla-scented wind that put the police in a relaxed state so that they turned around and went to the nearest Buddhist temple to meditate about bridges and dogs.
Stupid story, I know, but it’s a heck of a lot more memorable.
Why? Because it’s got emotions in it:
The NEED of hunger.
The ANGER of irrational aggression.
The EXCITEMENT of magic.
The WEIRDNESS of dream logic.
And all those elements mixed together make bland information much more memorable.
Go ahead and try it.
Pump a reminder into your phone for later today: What was Anthony’s story at the end of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast?
Take a moment to jot it down.
Then come back and compare notes.
I’ll bet your 85-99% accurate in your recall.
Here’s What’s Even Better:
You can apply that same, emotion-based zaniness to even the most deadly boring information in the world.
And so long as you know how to create a Memory Palace and use Magnetic Imagery to encode and decode the information through the Recall Rehearsal process …
Power! Sheer power!
And power in the positive senses we’ve been talking about.
So listen …
There’s no need to struggle with bad memory anymore. In fact, no one has a bad memory. People who suffer from forgetfulness just don’t know enough about the miracle of memory.
But now you do and the future is wide open and bright for more discovery about your memory and your mind.
Get out there and have fun and until next time … Keep yourself Magnetic! 🙂
Mar 15 2017
Rank #18: Insights to Remember Before Starting Over
Have you ever gone through a phase that forced you into starting over from scratch?
Don’t worry. It happens to everyone.
Luckily, we can learn from those who have gone before us. In this guest post from Jeffrey Pickett, you’ll learn how to minimize the suffering that comes from rebooting your life and how to get back on your feet in the best possible manner.
Three Reasons Why Starting Over Is So Painful
Starting over can be painful. You’d love to blame others, but after close analysis, you realize it all points back to the person looking at you in the mirror.
Our careers, like cars, were meant to go forward most if not all of the time. No one likes to go in reverse. It takes more attention, more focus and more detail. Starting over means you need to back up before you can go forward.
Finally, starting over sucks because self-doubts creep in the back door, playing with your mind. The sky is no longer blue, the chirping birds are dead, and someone pulled the chain, diminishing the once bright sunlight.
Take heart, my friends, because it just so happens I am the self-proclaimed big deal in the world of starting over. Allow me to prove it to you…
Why You Should Forgive But Don’t Forget
In a previous relationship, well perhaps several, the occasion to try and make things work occurred a few times too many. The bottom eventually fell out and I beat myself up for letting things go on as long as I did.
That guy on the street with the “The End is Near” sign was right all along. I just wouldn’t listen.
When you make mistakes, learn from the event, forgive yourself and move on. Looking in the rearview mirror only serves to cause pain. Learn the lesson and move forward.
Forgive while you’re at it. Holding anger or resentment towards another only sets you up for failure. Let go of the attachment to anger.
Wouldn’t It Be Cool If You Could Be Superman?
I think I’d ditch the cape myself, but having superpowers and flying around would be awesome, right?
Well, back in reality-world, that doesn’t work. You can only be yourself.
That’s not totally correct.
Humans have this unique ability to recognize who they are and change. We can go back to school, join a gym or even seek therapy if necessary.
With effort, we can become a better version of ourselves.
An important facet to starting over means you have to be willing to change any aspect of your life that no longer works. Ultimately, you can only change yourself; you have no power to change anyone else.
That common definition of insanity (dare I repeat it?) is accurate – to avoid more mistakes, change that which is in you versus what you have no control over.
What To Do When The World Turns Upside Down
Whenever your world upside down, forcing you to start over, a vital lesson should be at the forefront of your brain.
The way we see things may not be the best perspective.
You can’t mold the world to your point of view, but you can shift your perspective.
Recently I went hiking with my wife. Just when the trail appeared to dead-end, I’d take one more step, and my perspective changed.
The opening was there all along; I just needed a few more steps.
How To Get More Done With Less Effort
I love running. I used to train five to six days a week, running up to 15 miles on some days. But I could never improve my race times.
One day, a friend of mine introduced me to running sprints instead of running long distances. I did as he suggested and my race times came down even though I ran shorter training distances.
Another example involves my garage that needed some fix-up. A friend offered to help, someone with a lot more experience than I. But my pride got the best of me. I thought I’d do it myself.
You can guess what happened.
I ripped up most of my work, I cut my thumb open, and my kids learned a new curse word from my repeated frustrations. If only I would have invited the help and pushed away my pride…
See the difference? I just needed to change my approach.
I Lied – You CAN Be Superman!
You just have to do one thing before you begin starting over.
You have to learn a new skill. Maybe you need a better memorization technique…
A potential reason you are in need of starting over is that as hard as it may sound, you may lack the resources to get the job done. Before starting over, research your topic of interest or situation, gain the extra knowledge and get back into the fight.
The Real Reason It’s Better to Give And Not Deceive
The world operates differently these days. You used to be able to ask for favors. But now it’s all about, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
That’s not all bad.
Instead of looking out for good ol’ #1, start over with an effort to provide value. Do things for others. Show the world you want to add versus subtract. Don’t provide something with the apparent reason you just want something in return.
Give with the intention of helping. If you’re lucky (and genuine), then the gifts will come back. Give your work away.
Giving is good for the soul. It’s good for your health, too.
Speaking of giving, I have a self-titled website where I give as much of my experiences as I can write down. I’m focusing on health these days, so if you’d like to improve your health and lose some weight in the process, check out my free guide.
Well, now you know of my experiences in starting over. I’d love to hear yours. I’ll bet they are the type of stories Jimmy Fallon/Kimmel would feature! Share what happened and what you did to get over it and I’ll see you in the comments.
Mar 31 2016
Rank #19: How To Develop Superhuman Memory Skills
To celebrate the release of a course I put together with Jonathan Levi called, Branding You™: How To Build A Multimedia Internet Empire, we’re re-releasing an interview I gave on his Becoming a Superhuman podcast. So when you’re ready, hit play and learn …
How To Outsmart Forgetfulness Forever With Superhuman Memory Skills!
Jonathan: Hello Ladies and Gentleman, and welcome to the Becoming Superhuman Podcast. I am your host Jonathan Levi. For those of you who don’t know, I teach a course on a web platform called Udemy, which is one of the world’s largest online course platforms. It is through that platform and through that platform and through being an instructor that I met my guest today.
Dr. Anthony Metivier is an experienced author, consultant and an expert in the field of memory and learning. Dr. Anthony is a fellow instructor on Udemy and he’s been a friend of mine since I originally appeared on his highly rated podcast, the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. Anthony’s innovations in the field of mnemonics helped him teach people all over the world to exceed in academics, learning languages, memorizing poetry and a whole host of other amazing skills. This podcast goes into a lot of different topics and Anthony and I cover a lot of ground from different mnemonics and memorialization techniques all the way to meditation. So now I am very excited to introduce you to Dr. Anthony Metivier.
So Anthony, good evening, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time. I had so much fun with you on your podcast, the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. It was one of the things that actually inspired me to do this show, and I want to thank you for that, and I thought it would be really fun to have you as one of our first guests. So welcome.
Anthony: Well thank you for having and I know my audience of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast really responded well to your interview, and I know it sent some people to your course so it was fantastic.
Jonathan: It did and thank you for that. It was such a blast and I think the audience picked up on that. You and I kind of having this mind meld, and we had a really good time and I’m sure we’re going to have a great time on this podcast as well.
Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. I think people really respond to it too because it’s not really coming from MENSA or championship stuff, and nothing wrong with that, but it is more down to earth and real application to our studies and so forth from people who use it for those purposes.
Jonathan: Definitely. Actually you have been involved in memory and accelerated learning for a long time. Before I was and also before it became kind of a really trendy topic. Maybe share with our audience the story of how you got into this field.
Anthony: Well it was just happenstance and a very lucky one because I had been in graduate school in Toronto at York University and these hard Toronto winters and something wrong with my biology sent me into a real bad depression. I couldn’t think and I couldn’t concentrate. I had the weight of all these exams on my shoulders for my doctoral exams. For people who aren’t in a PhD program now or have been, then they would know that there is these committees you have to go and sit in front of and they grill you over hundreds and hundreds of books that you are supposed to have covered, and I could hardly get out of bed. So it was just a crazy time.
To avoid life, to avoid facing all of this and to avoid the horrid pain of cracking another book of obscure French philosophy with terms like architectonic tautology and just things that rattle your brain, I was starting to play with cards and magic tricks. I could focus on that. I could watch these videos. I didn’t have to read a book or anything like that. You don’t get far in the world card magic without coming across one of the holy grails which is a memorized deck and most people to some kind of trick. It’s not really memorized but there is another class of people who actually memorize the deck. There is a whole bunch of different techniques.
I thought no way this is crazy I thought I would never be able to do this because I can’t even read. I couldn’t even read Harry Potter which is one of the books I had to read for a course where I was a teacher’s assistant and barely able to get out of bed for that. I apologize to all of those students that I misdirected with showing up to class unprepared for Harry Potter. In any case, I tried it and it was incredible. It is like a light saber through all that fog and all the inability to concentrate.
That is what really hooked me on memory techniques. It is irrelevant how bad you feel. It is irrelevant how tight you are. It is irrelevant how hungry you are. You can actually just go to this place in your mind and these images that you have created and they are bulletproof so long as you’ve created them correctly. That was real miraculous for me.
It has actually helped with a lot of concentration issues and a lot of mental confusion. Those things are still there and I still have to take medicine for them, but these memory skills when used properly just do not fail regardless of what the mood may be or the condition.
I kept using them and studying and I have done hundreds of hours of research, thousands of hours really of application and figuring out the best ways that work. Then through a series of mysterious and unusual circumstances I wound up teaching them at a school and I wrote them down for the students. That wound up becoming a series of books and video courses. That is how I got there.
Jonathan: Amazing, and I assume things kind of turned around in the PhD program once you kind of learned how to use and learn how to process all of that material.
Anthony: Yes, it got kind of ridiculous because then I was saying things like, “Oh, and by the way that’s on page 19.”
I think for everybody who gets into this stuff there is always a little bit of a showing off period. Nonetheless, it was incredible because I would go to these things and just be able to recall all this information and really crazy stuff. It is a funny story, but when I finally got to my dissertation defense, they call in a person from outside the University and outside the country if possible and he is called the external-external or she is called the external-external which means they are external to the program and external to the university.
Anyway he came and they were grilling me really hard and they asked some tough questions and there was someone who even wanted to fail me and I knew she wanted to fail me really badly. At the end he said, “You know, you are cooler then Miles Davis. You hardly blinked during this whole thing and all the stress that these people were putting on you.” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even really know that much about Miles Davis, but I just thought, “It was memory, man, that’s all it is.” There’s nothing to be nervous about it all.
Jonathan: Amazing, and actually your Magnetic Memory Method rubbed off on me quite a bit. You were one of the people who convinced me to start using these kind of techniques, the spatial awareness techniques to put it into my course and to use it in my own daily life, but maybe our listeners don’t know about the Magnetic Memory Method. They might not be familiar with mnemonics and you and I are telling these awesome stories about them. Maybe we can explain what the Magnetic Memory Method is and explain a little bit about how it works.
Anthony: There is a lot to it and I don’t want anybody to feel cheated if I kind of gloss over certain things but it brings together a whole bunch of elements. The core of it is to actually use locations religiously and make the Memory Palace the foundation of all this.
Because there are so many memory techniques is there are stairs to heaven (in the Led Zeppelin song) there is just so many. A lot of them just involve just making mental associations and pictures and they are just floating around in the void of your mind. That never worked for me very well.
What always worked very well was combining the basics of memory techniques which are creating exaggerated images and then locating them somewhere so that they could be found and you essentially increase your chances the more that you combine location with these exaggerated images. But then I started to go farther. I thought what if we study this information in a particular way and break it down into components so that you could link sounds with parts of words and create images that are very, very integrally linked to those images and those actions that the images make. Then they are in those locations and make it more and more powerful and it got to like Jedi levels of thinking about this and actually implementing it and applying it.
It is a bit involved to learn and it sounds almost insane, but for the people who use it, they get such amazing results. It is incredible and I have just been super pleased that it wasn’t just something in my head but something that other people could use. But there is definitely a formula to it and there is a recipe to it.
I specifically call it a method rather than a system because there is a need for people to adapt it to their own learning style in their own ways of going about things in their own homes in their own buildings that they are familiar with. So there is universal principles that structure it, but there is a methodology that you need to adapt.
It is kind of like the difference between kung fu or karate and wrestling. You have forms in karate and you have certain if-then, this-that kind of interactions with your enemy. But wrestling is more flexible and wrapping yourself around and innovating on the fly and there is not as many rules as such but there is universal principles. Just so that you could flop around like a fish when you need to and get the job done.
Jonathan: Definitely. I am actually dying of curiosity. How many Memory Palaces do you have? Can you quantify them are you in the hundreds or?
Anthony: Yes there is now 183 actually. Last June was 175 and I added to that since then for some various experiments but there is a go to amount as well. I mean I build some that actually never get used but the actual building of Memory Palaces is an important activity in and of itself even if you don’t use them because it just strengthens every other one you have. It strengthens your understanding of how they work and what you can do with them and it’s just a great way of preparing yourself. It’s like having extra bullets in your gun belt.
Jonathan: Of course. So you are kind of walking around your city or cities that you visit and exploring buildings with that purpose?
Anthony: Yes, a lot of people ask me, you have this idea that we should be having dozens of Memory Palaces. Where are we going to find them all? I always just think, on my street there are still places that I haven’t explored. There is like a clinic I could go into that I’ve never gone into. So if push came to shove there is one, and that’s not to mention the dozens of buildings on the streets around me that I have never really gotten exploited. Every time I travel and make special note of the hotels that I stay in because they are all perfect for their own little tiny Memory Palaces admittedly but they can be quite useful. There is another good reason to use Memory Palaces that you build from travel and that is because when we’re in novel locations or new locations we’ve never been to the brain secrete something called norepinephrine that makes things a lot more memorable when we have this chemical rolling around in our brain which tends to happen when we are traveling. Those can become super powerful Memory Palaces if you choose to focus on them in that way.
Jonathan: Incredible, plus the benefit of remembering more of your vacation and that’s a huge benefit.
Anthony: Yes, it kind of goes along with that feeling where you feel that you can really remember your first time in the city when you first arrived there. Those first couple of days can be very impactful and that has a lot to do with that chemical.
Jonathan: Incredible. On of the important steps for me when I kind of became what I call a SuperLearner was to understand the differences between working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Now that we understand a little bit about how your method works can you give us an idea of how you managed to create memories that stick not just in your short-term memory, a month or two until you deliver your thesis, but also for years and years and years?
Anthony: That is really quite simple. There is different theories and all kinds of things and one of the guys who had theories that are half-correct and half-tested and debunked and still very interesting one way or another is a guy named Hermann Ebbinghaus.
Ebbinghaus had these ideas like the forgetting curve and he basically suggested there is something called the primacy effect which is that if you were giving a list of words he would remember the first second and third words very well and then maybe the last three and four words very well but in the middle there would be this decay.
I thought about that a lot and tested it and it seems pretty well correct, but I thought there has got to be a way to hack this. So if you had a Memory Palace for example and there were 15 stations you would experience that primacy effect. The way to hack it is to actually go forward through the Memory Palace, go back through the Memory Palace, start in the middle of the Memory Palace go back to the front, and start the middle and go to the end, and the leapfrog over all the stations. You do this about 5 times a day or for a few days.
I mean it sounds kind of weird to be doing this, but how many times you go to the washroom and you could do this with a list of really important information. I mean that is just to be bulletproof. You can do a lot less but that’s just kind the bulletproof thing if it really counts that you have this information.
It is kind of like being a spaced repetition software machine organically and not relying on external technology to do the repetition for you, but deciding what your list is or what kinds of information you are memorizing and actually visiting it intentionally and that is what is going to get it into long-term memory.
Dominic O’Brien has a rule of five but I think the rule of five is not enough. It should be a little more rigorous like five times a day for five days and then after that, once a week for maybe five weeks and something like that and then you are really going to get it into long-term memory.
Jonathan: Wow. So I know you have some very successful book for learning languages and poetry and again, you have been providing me mentorship and guidance in publishing my own book, but what are some other applications that your students use the Magnetic Memory Method for with success?
Anthony: Oh there is so much. For instance, programming languages. I know that is basically language, but the application is quite different in the sense that those are pretty obscure codes and whatnot. Then there is mathematical formulas and just practical things with numbers.
A lot of people couldn’t tell you what their credit card number is for example and that is an incredibly useful thing to know actually. The amount of time you can spend looking for your wallet and digging it out and going back to the computer and typing it out and getting it wrong, you know you can really change your life just by having your credit card number and the amount of time you spend. Yes, there is all kinds of things.
There are people who have used some of the techniques that I teach in my Names and Faces course to memorize or get a better sense of locations that they had visited so that they can actually go and paint them. That is been an interesting thing that I hadn’t heard of before.
Then there is just the general boost in the critical and creative thinking that. People experience because of how the this opens them up to different ways of using their mind and their creative intelligence. So it spills out all over the place.
Jonathan: Definitely. Actually, that raises another question especially talking about creativity and I know some people think creativity is innate. Others understand that it is very largely trained, but my question would be can anyone do this? You know I have some strong opinions on it considering I also teach accelerated learning, but I’m curious to hear whether you have seen a difference in some sort of innate ability and all the students you have worked with or do some people just generally have a better memory out-of-the-box?
Anthony: I don’t know if anybody has a better memory out-of-the-box, but there seems to be that phenomenon, there seems to be that feeling. I find that when you ask people who just have a “natural memory” they usually describe the process that is very close to what happens in mnemonics. They sort of do it anyway without having to train.
It isn’t really the case that anybody has some special edge on other people. Because, the people who win all the memory championships, they are as dull as doorknobs without those techniques. They are all great people but they will always be the first person to admit that I couldn’t do this without those techniques I’m just a plumber or whatever they may be.
There is nothing particularly innate, but there is one kind of criteria I believe and that is actually wanting to achieve the outcome, and it seems being interested in doing the work and getting a kind of kick out of it. Because if you’re not having fun, then I don’t think all of the cheerleading in the world is going to get you over the hump of doing something that makes you miserable. I don’t understand why it would make anyone miserable, but some people just don’t have fun with it, and I have to accept that. I’ve done all kinds of clowning around and jokes and fun and games and there are still people who don’t enjoy doing it. I think that that’s really the great divide is having fun are not having fun. That applies to just about anything.
Jonathan: Definitely. One of the things that we added to our course was an explanation of Malcolm Knowles’ work. This guy in the 1950s basically figured out that there are six requirements for information to get in and stay in for an adult learner and one of them is do they enjoy the material and do they have a practical application. Which is to say, you know kids, a lot
of kids at a younger age will learn because they are told they have to. With adults it just doesn’t work that way. You need to know why you are learning it. You need to feel respected. You need to be able to tie to your day-to-day life and understand how you are going to use it or it’s just not going to happen.
Anthony: I think that there is two real things that this reminds me of with adults and not having fun with the memory techniques is because they don’t always completely understand why thinking about crazy monkeys cutting cheese off of the Statute of Liberty is going to help them remember something. They also often feel very compressed and restricted, and they don’t allow their imaginations to produce that kind of imagery. So they can be quite conservative and that is another sort of issue, but if they allow themselves to relax and have fun, then I think that they will find that their imaginations are much more equipped to create the kind of zany images that become memorable that allow you to encode information in order to have this kind of fun.
Anthony: It’s not that they aren’t fun it is just that there are a lot of barriers to finding them is fun.
Jonathan: I think, honestly, your method added a lot of fun. You and I talked about it a little bit when I was a guest on your podcast and it kind of influenced me. Since then, first off, I have a lot more fun. I am personally learning Russian right now which can be to put it lightly not very fun. But I’m having a lot of fun and I can learn usually about 20 new words in a 20 or 30-minute session. I use is really fun outrageous visual markers that you gave me.
For instance the Russian word for open is открытый. I think about myself with a migraine standing in front of a closed pharmacy just shaking my head in this absolute pain, or I can picture myself with a bullet wound, heaven forbid, and thinking the pharmacy ought to be open because it’s critical, right. So with открытый and that’s been really helpful. My question and I have a little bit of a personal motive on this, what about learning grammar? I am struggling quite a bit with Russian grammar, and I’m sure you’ve overcome this in the many languages you teach for your books.
Anthony: With the exception of English I haven’t produced anything specifically about memorizing grammar, but the principles are more or less the same. So basically if you had a Memory Palace you wanted to focus on some grammar, the first thing to do would be to figure out what grammar you want to focus on. So instead of being overwhelmed by the giant engines of grammar you just pick one. So for instance declensions of verbs or whatever, and then you start in one corner and you and you think about how that is declined for that particular piece of language and you follow that linearly.
In Spanish, for example, you have yo for I, and then you have tú for you, and then you have el or ella for he or she and you have all of these things. You put those in corners and then you add the next thing. You know what I’m saying? Like you add what the next word part is. So if you get to ellos which is the last of that list in Spanish then you would see a big sun. So that would be ellos sun. Or tú aires you would see a big statue of Aires in that location doing something really crazy.
Jonathan: How interesting.
Anthony: You know things like that. I am just going to my own Memory Palaces for that and then you go to the next set of principles and you go to the next set of principles and you just lay them out. In essence you make images to create the examples and you create kind of a crib sheet. Then what you do is go out ASAP once you got the stuff in your memory and you start writing sentences. You start speaking. You start listening to the language every day and to add that memorized material to a flow of other encounters. Because the more you include the memory techniques and the memorization process with reading, writing, speaking and listening then you create an ecosystem and things can get very fast after that.
Jonathan: Right, I definitely need to do that. I hadn’t thought of actually breaking down the connecting words and stuff like that. In Russian you have I think it is 18 different ways to say “this” which can be very challenging. So I need to start creating these visual images for each one of those different variants it sounds like.
Anthony: Yeah, I mean that’s what I would do and I would have them patterned out against Memory Palace and then do that exact thing, forwards and backwards, from the middle to the front, from the middle to the back and then a bit of leapfrogging from station to station like one, three, five, seven, or two, four, six, eight and you will really get a lot of speed and quickly wrap it into midterm and long-term memory acquisition, and, then again, reading, writing, speaking and listening. You can use all the memory techniques in the world but it is not going to lead to fluency without those other big four activities.
Why that I came up with this is because I am pretty good at those for other four activities. The only problem is I can’t remember anything. So it’s really been the magic bullet so to speak. I mean it is a magic bullet that takes effort to take it out of your gun belt and put it into the gun enroll the chamber and point it at the target and shoot the gun. That’s all effort and so forth, but once that bullet is spinning, I mean that’s as magical as it gets.
Jonathan: Right. I had kind of a little bit, kind of not argument but disagreement with my partners when we were building our course because I’m of the belief that people need to understand how it works and people should understand just a little bit of the neuroscience behind mnemonics and how do they work and why does your brain respond to this stuff. Do you think that that’s the case or do you think that it is something like with a good technology product where the confusion and the technicality should be hidden from the end-user?
Anthony: What I had the great honor to interview Harry Lorraine who people probably know that name. He’s really one of the kings of the memory-training world, and I asked him the same question. I said you talk in your books all the time about how people don’t care about the science they just want to know how it works. I tend to fall on that myself. Although I have had criticism from a podcast listener who said that I have deeply undercut my credibility because of how I dismiss science and the science of memory, but that is not technically true and it is also because I do kind of fall in that camp that if you’re interested in the science by all means go and study it, but it in and of itself is not the recipe to get results.
I mean there is no right answer to it but I know for myself when I am reading books and I start getting into memory books and they start explaining to me about why it all works and how it all works in the brain I just skip over it because one thing that is very important actually for people to know is that science is a process. It is in process everything that you read about science is going to be improved upon, it’s going to be changed but what is not going to be changed are the fundamental techniques of how memory skills work. They are ancient.
There are innovations that come now and again when somebody comes up with some things that other people can copy and use for themselves, they are pretty rare but they happen. In principle but universal techniques are not going to change. So again, I don’t mean to undercut science but I still fall in that camp that if you’re interested in it, there are loads of books about it, but if you want to get the results from memory techniques, the science isn’t going to change the fundamental techniques and they are not really going to give you some deep insight about how they work.
What is going to give you insight about how they work is learning them in using them and you are going to learn more from using them then you are about reading them. There is more to movement than meditation and reading about the science is a form of meditation rather than taking action.
Jonathan: Interesting. You mentioned that there are innovations every year in these techniques and I think that that is one of the interesting things. Also you mentioned that these are thousand-year-old techniques and both of those are topics that come up in Joshua Foer’s recent book, Moonwalking with Einstein. I think that is an interesting book because it has really brought to the mass public the techniques that you have been teaching for years or you know that the Greeks were using 2000 years ago. What do you think about the recent popularity of guys like Joshua Foer or Ed Cooke, some of these memory athletes who are winning champions and stuff like that?
Anthony: Well I think it’s fantastic. There is absolutely nothing to criticize although with Moonwalking with Einstein, if you go and read the reviews a lot of people are disappointed that he doesn’t actually teach the techniques. He sort of glosses over them but it is really a book of cultural history and this phenomenon of what is sort of an underworld. Not that many people know about memory championships and so forth. It is a really interesting book and it has brought a lot of attention to these ancient techniques.
Ed Cooke also with Memrise and the things that he does. There is a really great interview with him recently on Tim Ferriss’ podcast that I recommend people listen to. At least the first hour, after that they kind of get drunk.
Jonathan: They end up in the woods as that podcast often does, but it is really enjoyable how Ed kind of walks through and he tricks Tim into memorizing this list of really ridiculous stuff.
Anthony: That gets back to the thing about having fun. You’ve really got to trick yourself into doing it then you see how much fun it is and you get hooked and things really change for you. I think that really what it comes down to, a lot of these people, not Foer or Cooke in particular, but the whole world that has been around for a long time and is just growing and growing, is a lot of people use the word system and there are no systems. There are just methods that allow you to create your own system. I think things would be a lot easier for people if more of these big names in memory would make that clear. So that is really important.
I mean it has just been this kind of idea of it being a system since Giordano Bruno did his stuff in the 16th century. I don’t know if people are aware of him, but he had these really complicated books that he wrote for royalty, or at least so that they would fund the printing of the books, they are always dedicated to royalty, and he just created these massive systems but he just says use these instead of here’s the principles behind how I have used these for you can map your own learning style and your own interests in your own homes on top of them. So that is what a lot of these books have been about. They have been about how the other person used them but not extracting the methodology behind it and making that is clear as possible.
Jonathan: I think you are absolutely right. I think the actual nuts and bolts are much more obscure. I mean down to like the nitty-gritty things like what kind of loci or locations or anchor points are better than others? Am I supposed to be storing my memories on a bookshelf or can I put a couple of memories on the bed? It’s like to really nitty-gritty details of okay great, I have built my Memory Palace, how do I actually use this thing and what do I put in it and where?
Anthony: Basically that has been the core of my success because I go into all of that stuff in detail. I have written more than 1000 pages just with those specifics about can you use a bed, can you use under your bed, can you go underneath the sheets. I mean every possibility I’ve gone through one way or the other and yet at the same time hardly a month goes by when someone doesn’t email me with some new application that they are using that I never thought of before.
Jonathan: It’s interesting.
Anthony: It’s pretty crazy.
Jonathan: I’d actually be very fascinated, I assume our audience would be as well, can you walk me through may be one of the first sentences you learned in another language and tell me what words are where out of curiosity?
Anthony: Sentences in another language. Okay. That’s interesting because I actually don’t normally memorize sentences, just vocabulary, then because I know the grammar it’s not that I really memorize phrase. I’m focusing more on vocabulary so nothing leaps to mind, but I can give something in English because memorizing poetry is more where I would use that. I will explain exactly how it works.
There is a famous little book called the Iliad by some guy named Homer. This is a particular translation, this is Dryden’s translation, there are others that you will come across is what I’m about to say doesn’t quite match what you come across. It says, “Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, sing, O muse, / The vengeance, deep and deadly; whence to Greece / Unnumbered ills arose.” It’s not even the first sentence, but it’s the first major statement.
To do this I created a Memory Palace and actually I was memorizing it to demonstrate to a coaching client I had exactly how this could be done and I used her school, because she had the school, she still has school. I used the coffee room where coffee is made and then decide that there is a wall that has a painting and then there is an office that I sometimes worked in myself and then there was a classroom and that’s all that was needed for this particular thing. You want me to go through that and unpack that and how that works?
Jonathan: Sure, if you don’t mind. I find it very fascinating.
Anthony: Here is where I have to actually, because you don’t really need the training wheels after a while, but basically what I saw was Brad Pitt who played Achilles in the movie Troy, and he is kicking a pail. So “Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, sing, O muse.” He’s kicking the pail at the Statue of Liberty who is singing and she gets hit in the head by this pail which makes her feel vengeance, and she’s also at the same time digging in the dirt, “The vengeance, deep and deadly;” and throwing it at a map of Greece that has replaced this painting that’s on the wall in this school. So “whence to Greece” and then I’m standing at this office door wiping away numbers on the chalkboard. “Whence to Greece unnumbered ills arose.”
You might notice that I’m not accounting for every single word in that line but just enough. That’s an important question that a lot of people have. Do I have to have an image for every single word? And the answer is no. You just had need to have enough that you want to honor your mind and let it fill in the blanks. You say potato. I say potato. You can fill in the blanks and your mind has that kind of ability so you give it space. As beginners you might want to do word for word but it’s really just a simple image. Brad Pitt kicking a pail of Statue of Liberty who is digging in the earth throwing the dirt at a map and I’m wiping away numbers.
Jonathan: I noticed you compressed those symbols. We talk about this a little about this in my course create linkages between them. So it’s not a statue of Brad Pitt and then a statue of a pale but rather Brad Pitt kicking the pail and that’s in one location in your Memory Palace.
Anthony: The real secret to it is it is a vignette that is strung along a journey and it has space in it. A lot of people will try to do that same thing inside of a single room or inside of a single image as you are suggesting, but I think that the fluidity comes from giving it space and obviously the entire Iliad would require a lot more space than this one school would offer, but that’s just how it works and if you wanted to, then you could find all that space to do the entire Iliad and people do. It is not unusual actually. When you look into it there’s all kinds of people walking around with entire books in their head.
Jonathan: Well I think it’s interesting that you said “and people do” about the Iliad because people did and one of the things I found so fascinating about Foer’s book is he talks about some researchers who figured out that most of Homer’s works were written and reproduced for so many years with Memory Palaces. Just by the structure of the text they were able to figure out that you wouldn’t really write it this way unless someone was trying to convert it to a visual symbol, and the story would kind of double back on itself if it wasn’t being somewhere along the way someone crossed their own memory journey. I think it is so fascinating because these books are known for being huge volumes, very long works that were actually committed for thousands of years to memory.
Anthony: Well sure, there was only eating, drinking, going to war and memorizing. That’s all they had or reciting what they memorized.
Jonathan: It’s amazing as a species what we did before we had these tools that in a lot of ways help us but in a lot of ways, who even knows any of their friends phone numbers anymore much less credit card numbers or anything like that. When I was a kid I knew all of my friends’ phone numbers and then cell phones came out. So slowly but surely we have completely obliterated the skill of memory as a species and as a culture which is just a shame.
Anthony: Well, but at same time, what is so interesting to me is that it is at the same moment that we appear to be eradicating our memory through technology, that memory techniques have basically come into a Renaissance. It is almost like a tidal wave has built the ship that will save you from the storm.
Jonathan: Well also in Homer’s time, someone was very lucky to come across one, or two or three or ten such stories, the entirety of mythology and stuff like that was just about everything they were learning, whereas today I try to read two books a month and I try to read ten blog posts and articles a day. We don’t digest and redigest and reprocess the material. We are really going for breadth more than depth.
Anthony: That’s true. There was always a saying when I was a student that you are better off mastering one book than knowing 1000. To the extent, and that is a bit exaggerated, but there is that question that I often think about when I read certain things is so much of what I am reading is either ignorant of or grounded in things that I already know from having a more traditional training. That does come from knowing a few books really well rather than 1000 not so well at all, if you know what I mean.
Jonathan: Actually that raises another question, if I can kind of dig a little deeper into the Magnetic Memory Method. I think there is two ways to organize. Let’s say I do a lot of reading about programming and technology in general. I can organize it by here is a book that I read and every single book gets its own palace or I could be grouping, right. So any blog post that I read goes into a palace about Ruby on Rails if it happens to touch on that, just a just as an example. Do you group information book by book in its own palace or do you kind of take subjects and put them into their own palaces and many sources can feed one palace?
Anthony: Well it depends what is going on. When I was studying for my dissertation defense for example, I made Memory Palaces per philosopher. It wasn’t as if Jacques Derrida would mention ____ or vice versa that I would somehow have to have this big confusion of what I was going to do. It is they just independent based on who they were and that person.
Incidentally those Memory Palaces had what I call a bridging figure and is bridging figures would be those would be those philosophers and just sort of follow them around through their adventures and to be able to recall the stuff. But in terms of like branching out and having tunnels between this and that, I don’t deliberately build that because it builds itself anyway.
It becomes what I call rhizomatic which a lot of knowledge and education is taught in a top-down tree structure, so you go from the branches down to the truck and into the roots, but a rhizome is something that is more beneath the earth and spreads out laterally and can even pop up new bulbs in ways that don’t even seem connected to the original plant.
It can go up/down, left/right and center, diagonal and all kinds of different kinds of permutations can just pop out at anywhere, but I think that that is best produced by having kind of a grid that you don’t deliberately try to interweave too much other than you interweave it based on your understanding of the world around you using those buildings that you know to deliberately create well structured journeys and memorize stuff there and the actual connections will happen on their own.
Jonathan: That is super interesting. Have you ever made a list on pen and paper or on the computer of your hundred and 83 Memory Palaces and what they contain or is that complete blasphemy?
Anthony: Again, that depends on what the project is and it is not blasphemy it is insurance. It is actually the best thing to do because you are getting multiple modalities going at the same time. Basically, you asked me before about midterm and long-term memory and this is basically one really great way to use paper and pen or your computer in combination with these techniques.
Let’s say you’ve got a list of 50 words that you want to memorize and you have a 50-station Memory Palace and you actually have that Memory Palace in your mind and you have it as an Excel file. So 1 to 50 and it lists the station and it lists the words that you memorized and another column lists the meaning of the word (or one or two meanings, you don’t want to overburden it at first, you can go back and add later). Then the next column has the record of the image you created.
As you are going along making your associative imagery, you make a record of it you can do it with a pen on paper or you can do it with an Excel file and then you are going to go and remove yourself from that source material. No books, no dictionaries, no computer, nothing. Just you, a piece of paper and a writing device, pen or pencil. Then you reproduce everything from your mind and you go and check it against the record.
Anthony: That’s the full-bore method. Again, you can do this the forward and back and from the middle to the end and all those different ways that I was talking about but do it on paper completely from your mind and you are achieving multiple things at the same time. You are deepening your knowledge of your Memory Palaces and your memory techniques. You are deepening your knowledge of what it is that you are studying.
You are deepening your ability to use imagination, imagery and actions and you are deepening your discipline to actually sit and be able to reproduce information from your mind and then you are rewarding yourself going back to that list and seeing, oh my goodness, this is 90 percent correct, 98 percent correct, 88 percent correct and it gives you the basis to make corrections and go back and say, well that man hitting a cat with toast is really not working. I have got to make that cat battle tighter or whatever and you can make corrections and that again makes you more imaginative and it gives you more exposure to what it is that you are trying to memorize. So it is just a completely different way of approaching information and working with information that is fun and exciting and more interesting than just trying to hammer it into your head with pure raw repetition.
Jonathan: I think you have inspired me. I’ve been working on Russian with the tips you gave me last time but I think I’m going to try to commit it to actual physical locations in a Memory Palace. The only issue is Pushkin, who the Russians love to admire, and they have this saying that “Pushkin is our everything.” Their language is what they are most proud of in their culture. The guy knew 50,000 words, which is why there is a lot rumors about him similar to there were about Shakespeare that there could not have been one person writing this work. So I am going to need to really start accumulating quite a bit of Memory Palaces. Maybe one for words that start with O and one for words that start with P and so on and so forth.
Anthony: A lot of people think I’m pretty crazy for suggesting that. But the benefit of doing that is you don’t have to learn 50,000 words because when you are using an alphabetized Memory Palace system you are actually studying how those language works in a much more detailed way to the point that you can just start guessing what words mean. You are not going to be right all the time but your familiarity with the structure of the words and how they are patterned out develops really in this rhizomatic that I was suggesting.
So you can read quite easily and you know we do it in our own mother tongue anyway. We read and go, “Oh, what does that word mean again or I never heard that word,” but you get the context and you just keep going or you make note of it and check it out later. I mean 50,000 words in Russian would be absolutely fantastic but whether it is a requirement to understand Pushkin I don’t know.
Jonathan: I would be happy with 10,000 words at this point. The words, like I said, are only a very small part of the challenge of such a complex language. You mentioned in the beginning of the podcast memorizing cards and I happen to pick up as I was doing my research for this podcast, you actually just released a new course on Udemy on memorizing cards. Tell me about that. I’ve never actually had the motivation to do it myself. I know how it’s done and some of the latest techniques in compressing but explain why someone would want to learn that skill, and why it might appeal.
Anthony: There are lots of reasons why. It is one of those things, again, where it just sounds absolutely crazy. Why would anybody want to do this?
Jonathan: Unless they are going to Vegas, in which case you know if you can memorize four decks of cards in order you might be in pretty good shape.
Anthony: You would certainly give yourself a small advantage, you know like maybe a 1 to 2 percent advantage but especially if you can do number calculation system as well like with blackjack. I just gave that example from the Iliad and I talked about having space in between things. One thing that makes my card memory a method rather than a system is unique is it teaches you to create that space between things.
It is not necessarily the fastest way to memorize cards and I don’t teach it as a speed drill as such, although you will get faster. I teach it as a creativity drill and getting better at using locations in combination with images. So if you are interested in memory techniques, that is one thing that it will help you do. You can apply these card drills to everything else you want to memorize and it is something you can do for 5 minutes before you memorize foreign language vocabulary just to get the mind warm.
There is other benefits also just in terms of being something you can carry around with you to practice and you can get apps for it as well. You are just studying how your mind is working. You are thinking about your creative imagination. . You are applying your creative imagination and there is also so something to the repetitiveness of it. So it is kind of like running where you get to a jogger’s high. You train yourself to feel that and you can apply that feeling to other things.
Jonathan: Fascinating. So it’s a very good way to practice the entire methodology in a standardized way. Every deck of cards, you know, standardized deck of cards looks the same, has the same characters and so people all over the world I guess are practicing the skill and it is a great way to develop subsets of that skill that can then be applied to memorizing credit cards and phone numbers. Is that what kind of what you’re saying?
Anthony: Yes and the other thing that is neat about it is it is a real nice combination of concrete and abstract things. That is a really great thing to have mastery of especially if you’re going to learn foreign language vocabulary and grammar principles. You recognize it, you know what letters are, you know what sounds are, those are the concrete parts and yet what their meaning is completely abstract. So what is the meaning of seven of diamonds, nothing. But you learn to apply meaning to it because you create it through a process into an image and by taking things that are largely abstract and applying imagery to them you get very good very fast at applying that to anything else.
Jonathan: Right and any new piece of knowledge, especially with foreign languages for example, you start out with something like the 7 of hearts that means nothing right now and needs to soon mean something very real and tangible and memorable to you. So I can definitely see how learning to apply that would have huge repercussions, positive repercussions for anything you want to learn.
Anthony: The way I teach it is actually quite different than most people teach it. So definitely explore other things and if you do listen to that Ed Cooke interview and see some of his videos on YouTube he has a completely different way of doing it and mine is less arbitrary. So if you are into that kind of way that he approaches or the Dominic method of approaching it, that’s totally fine but there is a way that is much less arbitrary and based more snuggly on principles they can reduce some of that arbitrariness.
Jonathan: very cool. So I really enjoyed it. Actually the last time I listen to your podcast it happened to be in an episode where you shared a message that you had from a student who was really impacted by your methods and I found that (a) to be a really great thing to include in a podcast, but (B) super inspirational. Do you have any recent stories that you have gotten our recent messages that you might want to share about some student’s success?
Anthony: I mean almost every day something comes but there was a student who was really stressed out about the exams that he had coming up and it was actually really nice he had never even really bought anything yet but just sort of cobbled everything together from my podcasts and he thanked me and he said, “I got 98 percent on this test and it was just unbelievable.” Then he bought my Master Class (www.MagneticMemoryMethod.com) which is not on Udemy but its own separate thing and it was just kind of like this big thank you because of the results that he got from the Magnetic Memory Method.
Yes, there is people all around the world. I heard from a guy in Italy who is just super happy that he is making so much progress with the dictionary that he got. I suggested that he look at a particular kind of dictionary that he was able to find. It is just incredible. I heard from a law student today who is working on Latin and in order to get a better understanding of the law and he is doing really great. He is even teaching this approach at school now and the dean has invited him to give a presentation about it.
It is really just spreading like wildfire, this particular approach which is great. I am very happy that if it’s just even gets interest in memory techniques in and of itself. Because to me that is really the most important thing is that people just start to see the magic and the power of this and just do something because there is so much suffering in the world that has to do with memory and there is so much opportunity that is lost because people cannot achieve their goals without it, and that suffering is simply just not necessary.
Jonathan: Definitely. I also struggled a great deal through high school. To a larger extent, you know when a lot of the memory stuff was happening with when I was a lot younger. I just suffered and suffered through history class and through math class largely because of memory. There is no real teaching of this in academia which I just find mind-boggling. Nobody ever stopped and explained to me that I needed to create visual memories not until after college. I was lucky to run into someone like yourself who is an expert, and I tell the whole story kind of in my courses, but I just think what if I had never encountered this and I went through my entire life thinking that there was this huge barrier to learning. Today I am learning how to podcast, and I’m learning how to blog, and I’m learning all this different kind of stuff that it doesn’t faze me at all to approach a new language in my free time because learning has become this fun, friction-free process, and I just think what a shame that people think they have to suffer to learn.
Anthony: There are all kinds of theories about why schools exist in the first place. I don’t necessarily want to get into that. For anybody who is suffering with school, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can start using these things now to make your school experience a whole lot more enjoyable if you are still somewhere in the middle of the road.
Jonathan: Definitely. I have also heard from a number of my students, if you are dealing in and at traditional academic setting where concessions are made for the fact that learning is very hard for people who do it wrong to be kind of not politically correct. Once you start using these kind of techniques, the kind that you and I both teach, it becomes like fishing with dynamite. At least 98 percent test results are pretty common among people who know how to apply the proper methods and I just think that is so much fun that you probably have students all over the world who are setting the curve and really angering their classmates and it is simple stuff that is accessible online and takes a little bit of training.
Anthony: I think that thing about angering their fellow classmates, one thing that I always try to do in just about every message that I send if you have learned something from this is pass it on because two things happen. You get better at them, because something taught is something learned twice and you also get to help those other people. There is no competition in the world. People who are tied up in competition are really just hurting themselves.
But fishing with dynamite is a great metaphor and I think that also raises the important thing that you and I as teachers, and if you do take up these skills, becoming a teacher of them is that we really need people who know how to fish and are not waiting for fish to land in their boat. That has really been my great passion in and how I approach teaching in terms of showing how it is done rather than getting a lot of examples on how to do it.
Jonathan: Definitely and that is without a doubt one of the most rewarding if not the most rewarding part of teaching is forget the ego boost, forget all of that stuff is when you get an email from a kid who has been seeing a psychiatrist for years and years about severe ADD and stuff like that and all of a sudden gets to stop seeing that psychiatrist. The psychiatrist cuts him back to once every 2-month meetings because hey, you are getting 90 percent on all of your exams and you are not having suicidal thoughts before every exam. That is a really impactful thing. So what is next for you if you do not mind sharing, what are you working on?
Anthony: I am about to release a book on sleeping.
Jonathan: Really? That is actually another topic that you and I share a lot of interest in. Do tell.
Anthony: Well it is probably one of the more unique books on sleeping that is out there. I’ve certainly never encountered anything like this and I have been using it for years. The book, and it will eventually be a video course, is called The Ultimate Sleep Remedy, How To Fall Asleep Anytime And Anyplace With Ease, The Life-Changing No-Nonsense Rapid Results Guide To Getting A Better Rest And More Sanity In Your Waking Life which is one of these great long titles.
Jonathan: I was going to say do you have a Memory Palace to remember the title when people ask you at cocktail parties?
Anthony: Well you have to when you write titles that long. Basically, one of the things about a lot of sleep remedy books and training and stuff like that is if they tell you shouldn’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep and go out of bed until you feel tired and then go back to bed. That is something that I have found that is true to a certain extent, but there is a better way. I talk about that.
The other thing is that there are all kinds of sleep rituals. Like brush your teeth at the same time and go to the bathroom 2 hours before you sleep or whatever. We are not robots. Nobody is going to brush their teeth at the same time every night. What we need is the ability to lay down in bed and fall asleep.
So what I teach is being comfortable lying in bed no matter how painful it is to sit there and not be able to sleep and learn to be comfortable in that situation. That is the true path to sleeping at will basically. Is just to think about sleep completely differently and think about lying in bed differently. I wrote a whole book about it.
Jonathan: Amazing! I have two questions on that. The first is do you think you can teach to fall asleep sitting up because I’m one of these guys if I am not lying on either my stomach or my side it’s not going to happen which makes long haul flights absolutely miserable.
Anthony: Well yes, I think this would work for sitting up and I have sort of used it that way in terms of just being generally relaxed but not as a sleep remedy but I am sure that it will address that need as well.
Jonathan: My second question, and you’ve already sold me, my second question is are you a believer in in biphasic or polyphasic sleep?
Anthony: I don’t know that much about it and I’ve done some reading about and experiments and so forth. But again, it’s kind of one of these things where I’m personally not such a person that has such rhythms and to even try to get on the surfboard and let alone ride the wave is just going to be not something that I would gladly happily do and just the rhythms of my day don’t respond it. It would just be a losing battle to do that kind of like hacking.
Jonathan: I have found, specifically in grad school, I found that the nap worked really well but anything above that, you know getting into the two, three, four naps a day just completely wreaked havoc on my lifestyle. So I thought I would ask if you similarly had experimented with it.
Anthony: Well I certainly have used napping but there is a moment in napping where your brain will start to secrete chemicals that put you into the position of longer-term sleeping so that is why you often feel hung over and worse off than when you went to sleep. I think that meditation has always worked better for me.
Jonathan: You read my mind.
Anthony: But again, it is not like with the clock, ding-ding time to meditate or anything like that. I think that the real power with meditation is actually to meditate all the time. It’s like nonstop shopping. You just develop a kind of awareness and of course that awareness is broken but you can get it longer and longer and longer and become more conscious and aware for greater lengths of time and then combine that was sitting. I always loved Alan Watts’ idea of sitting just to sit and as being the ultimate meditation.
Jonathan: When you say sit, I mean a lot of meditation enthusiasts use the term “sit” and they actually mean sit meditation. I get the sense that you mean just sit quietly eyes open kind of thing?
Anthony: Yes, because basically what happens if you sit just to sit, then you are going to fall into those other sorts of techniques and strategies anyway. You are going to sit there and you are going to be aware eventually that you are just sitting there and you will start to laugh or whatever and you will come into basically “enlightenment” and the enlightenment is only 5 minutes away. It is just sitting just to sit and just wait for something to happen. Don’t move until something happens and you will know enlightenment very quickly. At least that is my feeling and I have developed it to a certain thing but I just love these moments were I am just walking around the streets and I went shopping or whatever and I suddenly catch myself not present at all and I just start to laugh because it is just the most hilarious thing to be mindless.
Jonathan: Yes and it is the most common thing on the planet as well. I think in a vast majority of people just by the way we live our lives we spend a lot of our time even once we are aware of presence and mindfulness, we spend the vast majority of our time caught up in a lot of minutia that pulls us out of kind of our present state.
Anthony: There is no one who is free from it but there are varying degrees of freedom and it is definitely worth cultivating because it can really change your life in some very powerful ways.
Jonathan: And your brain, which I think is really interesting and they are starting to do a lot more research. I have my ticklers that send me whenever there is new research about this but they are really starting to understand the neurological changes caused by meditation and presence and even stuff like positive affirmations are literally changing the mechanical structure of your brain. I think that for anyone who is taking anti depression medication or attention deficit medication that is a really exciting prospect like I can sit for 20 minutes a day and I can change my neurochemistry for free. That has got to be one of the most exciting things happening in science to me.
Anthony: It is actually pretty amazing because you can get free opium and all you have to do is sit for 20 minutes to get it or even shorter periods of time.
Jonathan: Right, without the withdrawal
Anthony: In fact it is totally without the withdrawal. It has the opposite effect. It is give me more withdrawal whatever.
Jonathan: You sit, and when I say sit I mean meditate, eyes closed, focus on breathing kind of thing. Do you sit every day?
Anthony: I do all kinds of things. So I will sit. One of the most powerful medications that I ever learned was the corner exercise which is just to find the corner of something and look at it and then start to be able to look at the space around it and see that air is really a kind of Jell-O that is pushing against everything and that object is pushing against the Jell-O and it is just kind of a neat way to blend yourself into presence in the room and think about that air pressing upon you as kind of like really a Jell-O. Air is an object and in and of itself an object filled with many objects. So I will do that and I also do certain kinds of breathing when I feel like it or I don’t and I really like something called psychic nostril breathing which is without using your finger to hold down a nostril, you just imagine the air is coming up your left nostril and out your right nostril and then up your right nostril and out the left nostril and you just sort of cycle that.
Then you can combine that with something called Pendulum Breathing. Pendulum Breathing is breeding in and then breathing in again and breathing out and breathing out again and you swing your breath that way and you combine those two things together, it’s a little bit like syncopated drumming, but once you get used to it is just an incredible thing in and of itself and you don’t do it for any kind of end goal. You do it just to do it while you are sitting just to sit in the most incredible things happen.
Jonathan: Right. I think that is really cool because a lot of beginners, myself included, start with a very common meditation practice and you are supposed to sit there just focus on your breathing and inevitably your breathing is not very interesting. So I like the idea of making it a little more interesting. Sometimes my breathing won’t captivate my attention so I will listen to
our feel my heart rate but I will definitely try that out, in twice and then out twice.
Anthony: What do you think about combining meditation with technology?
Jonathan: You know I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand you have this very pure beautiful practice that is estimated to be about 5000 years old. In a lot of ways it shares that characteristic with the Memory Palace. You don’t need a technological innovation to use a Memory Palace. It is something that we as humans have kind of inherited down from ancestry and I think there is beauty in that. On the other hand, I think it is an amazing way to connect to millions of people and if you look at an app like Headspace or Calm, these apps are all over the news and they are raising awareness and they are creating what some people call the mindfulness revolution. I think that is great. I personally got into meditation because someone told me to try out Headspace and I tried their 10-day trial, at which point I decided that, no matter how lovely Dr. Andy’s accent was, I’d probably be better off with just some noise isolating headphones.
But I will tell you one piece of technology that I’ve been very excited and very disappointed by is kind of home ECG. So I have this had been sitting here that is supposed to measure my brain waves and tell me how I am doing and help me understand the changes in my brain. How are my alpha waves changing? How my delta waves changing over time? I think that is really motivating and really exciting. The technology is definitely not there yet and I’m looking forward to a time when that will be there. But I don’t know what you think about it?
Anthony: I am not that big of a fan either but there is some benefit to it sometimes. I really like an app called Stillpoint, which plays three different kinds of sounds and you can mix them. So you have like a baseline, not a bass guitar line, but a baseline sound and then you can add like some sort of heartbeat or something like that and then you can add a periodic ohm are periodic tootle-lou or whatever. You’ve got different options and when my mind is really sped up, sometimes I will go to that because it is just really pleasant to listen to and really does provide a point of focus that I may not be able to give for myself.
Jonathan: Interesting. Is it a little bit like binaural beats?
Anthony: Yes, except for without the binaural stuff. I mean I don’t know, to tell you the truth, I didn’t memorize the packaging when I got it but it really struck me as being quite interesting because it wasn’t really in that sort of fringe of science and I’m not that studied in what research they have done but it was just kind of like this is just sounds that you can put together to help you focus and no real claims above that were beyond it.
But you reminded me of something when you mentioned 4000 years of meditation and a lot of people think the Memory Palace technique came from ancient Greece but the reality is that it did, except for that it also came from the ancient East and a lot of the Buddhist meditations used location-based memorization.
Anthony: For example, I learned a meditation one time and I thought man this is a Memory Palace. I mean it is one of those specific meditations where you are not just sitting to sit but you are actually doing stuff. The teacher said imagine that you are in this temple and at this particular location there is a bridge and as you walk across the bridge you see all these people at the bottom of the bridge and they are throwing stones at you trying to make you fall down. At the other end of the bridge you are at a party and everybody is cheering you on and offering you food and wine.
Then over at this corner of the temple imagine this big black dog and that dog is always chasing you and that is the representation of death, and then it went on and on. I remember this because I am going through my mind right now thinking of all these things. This is 10 years ago that I had done this meditation and so all of these things represent stuff. Like the people throwing rocks at you are reminding you to remember all of the people you dislike or that you consider his enemies and forgive them. The people at the party are also your friends but you forget them they are trying to poison you with all the good stuff or whatever. And the dog is death literally always behind you and you practice the meditation realizing that death is coming. It is a Memory Palace basically.
Anthony: And that meditation is thousands of years old.
Jonathan: Amazing! So Anthony I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I know you are quite a prolific man and you have very much lived up to your Miles Davis nickname from your PhD dissertation. I know you are doing books. You are doing podcasts, Udemy courses. You also have a Master Course that apparently I really need to check out. If listeners want to learn more about you or maybe start training in the Magnetic Memory Method, where did they start finding all this different material?
Anthony: Well, what I would really like to do is give listeners to your podcast some worksheets and a free video series which you can find here.
Jonathan: Awesome, that would be perfect. I know that there is so much different stuff that you have put out there and you know thousands of pages on whether or not I should be storing Brad Pitt in my bed that I would love to speed read through so I’m actually going to check that link out myself.
Anthony: Yeah you’ve just got to decide above the sheets, below the sheets or
Jonathan: I think it depends if it is a female listener or a male listener.
Anthony: Yeah, but for people who are listening to this and who are really interested there are worksheets and there are videos that will make it a lot more concrete and you can see what is going on.
Jonathan: Awesome and we are going to put up notes to all the different resources, some of which I’m going to research myself, different links we talked about, books, stuff like that, it will all be up on our website.
Jonathan: Awesome. Anthony thanks so much for your time it has been a real pleasure as always chatting with you.
Anthony: Well thank you and keep up all the good work and I can’t wait for the next time.
Jonathan: Awesome take care.
Aug 13 2015
Rank #20: The Simple Reading Technique That Prepares Your Memory For Anything
How Would You Like A Quote That Will Change Your Life – And Your Memory – For The Better?
If the answer is yes, then pay attention to every word of this quote and my commentary on it.
But prepare yourself …
This quote may well contain the most important set of thoughts you will ever read.
“To young writers I give only two secrets that really exist… all the other hints of Rosetta Stones are jiggery-pokery. The two secrets are these:
First, the most important book you can ever read, not only to prepare you as a writer, but to prepare you for life, is not the Bible or some handbook on syntax. It is the complete canon of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The Holmes mysteries are nailed to the fixed point of logic and rational observation. They teach that ratiocination, and a denial of paralogia, go straight to the heart of Pasteur’s admonition that “Chance favors the prepared mind.” The more you know, the more unflinchingly you deny casual beliefs and Accepted Wisdom when it flies in the face of reality, the more carefully you observe the world and its people around you, the better chance you have of writing something meaningful and well-crafted.
From Doyle’s stories an awakened intelligence can learn a system of rational behavior coupled with an ability to bring the process of deductive logic to bear on even the smallest measure of day-to-day existence. It works in life, and it works in art. We call it the writer’s eye. And that, melded to talent and composure, is what one can find in the work of every fine writer.
The second secret, what they never tell you, is that yes, anyone can become a writer…. The trick is not to become a writer, it is to stay a writer. Day after day, year after year, book after book. And for that, you must keep working, even when it seems beyond you. In the words-to-live-by of Thomas Carlyle, “Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it in God’s name! ‘Tis the utmost thou has in thee: out with it, then. Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is called Today; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.”
All that, and learn the accurate meaning of “viable,” do not pronounce it noo-kew-ler, understand the difference between “in a moment” and “momentarily,” and don’t say “hopefully” when you mean “it is to be hoped” or “one hopes.” Because, for one last quotation, as Molly Haskell has written: “language: the one tool that enables us to grasp hold of our lives and transcend our fate by understanding it.”
This quote comes from Harlan Ellison. It has got so much packed into it – and that’s not even to mention the quotes inside the quote.
Why Reading Properly Is The Ultimate Cure To Ignorance
Here’s a secret:
A lot of people read.
Except that they aren’t really reading.
What does it mean to read a book?
I talk about this in the podcast episode How To Memorize A Textbook. So if you haven’t checked it out, give it a listen.
In brief, it shoes you how to memorize the right parts of a book, not every page. A lot of people think they need to memorize an entire book, but it isn’t true.
There’s a circular question that’s been going round for thousands of years: Is it better to learn and memorize thousands of books to get a broad education? Or is it better to know just a few books better than most people ever will?
The Answer Is Pretty Simple!
The best book that you ever read, the most important book you can ever read is the book that you actually read.
Of course, it’s up to you which book you read. You don’t have to take Ellison’s advice that it must be Sherlock Holmes.
Ellison asks us to see a life lesson in Holmes: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
And that’s really what Holmes is all about. After all, using Memory Palaces or Mind Palaces is the ultimate preparation.
At the same time, it’s not really that Holmes has some super intellect or that he uses Memory Palaces or that he is more intelligent than anyone else. It’s just that he has a prepared mind.
And this leads us back to this idea of reading a thousand books or reading one book.
Memorize! Memorize! Memorize!
Do you remember the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast episode How to Tap the Mind of a Ten‑Year-Old Memory Palace Master?
In it, I interviewed Alicia Crosby, the 10‑year-old who used Memory Palaces to memorize all of the Shakespeare plays in historical order by title.
Not the actual content of the plays, mind you, but the title of every play – which is still an extraordinary feat.
On the interview, we also heard from her father. Together, they were talking motorcycle rides and making Memory Palaces along the way. These Memory Palaces were filled with beautiful stations found along the way.
All done at speed.
And that’s a beautiful thing. But (and with respect to my speedreading friends) …
Reading At Speed Is Not Always The Best Way To Invite Information Into Your Mind!
During the interview, I told a story from Kafka.
In that story, a young man has to travel to a different city to get to work. Day in and day out, he takes the train.
Then one day he misses the train, so he has to take a bicycle.
When he gets to the town, he sees this old man who is sitting on a bench.
He says to the old man, “My, I have never noticed so much about this journey, but now that I’ve taken a bicycle, wow, this is amazing. I noticed so much detail. I became aware of so many things that were never evident to me before.”
The old man says, “Yeah, well just wait and see what you discover when you walk next time.”
There’s No Shame In Slowing Down
This story from Kafka is about slowing down. It is about actively noticing the world around you. And being prepared to do so.
This man on the bike – he wasn’t prepared at all. In fact, as he was constantly taking the train, life was passing him by. All the different details whizzed past so that he never had a chance to memorize anything because he was just not paying attention to anything.
But slowing things down by taking the bike, made so many details evident.
And for the kicker ending, as the old man suggests, walking makes the details of the world even more evident.
The World Becomes Eye-Catching When You Walk “Psychogeographically”
Have you ever read Will Self?
If not, check out his book Psychogeography.
Psychogeography is the idea that you can walk to an airport, for example, get on a plane and then walk to your hotel.
According to self, your body will not know that you haven’t walked to New York.
For example, Self talks about flying from Heathrow in London to JFK in New York and how going by foot to the airport and then walking from the airport to his hotel tricked his body into thinking he walked the whole way.
Now, to the extent that Self’s procedure actually tricks your mind, I don’t know, but the term “psychogeography” certainly is an appropriate because when you walk, you can notice more things.
And the more things you notice, the more things you can notice. Just like with learning, the more you can learn, the more you can learn because you have more of a basis upon which to ground more learning.
Then Just Do It
And then take another look at the Thomas Carlyle quote Harlan Ellison gives us.
In it, Carlyle is saying, “Produce! Produce!”
And whatever you have before you to do, do it with your entire mind, and with your entire body. Do it with your entire soul. Get in there and do it.
Do it in a way that is whole and complete, in a way that has a beginning and a middle and an end.
Because as Carlyle says, “the Night cometh,” and nobody can work in the night.
What is night in this quote?
Night Is Death
Look, most of us work with half our butt hanging out of our pants.
We’re not fully involved in our work.
We are half involved in it.
We’re a quarter involved in it.
Maybe we’re even just 10 percent involved in it (or less).
That’s no good.
It’s No Way To Live!
And so that’s why being prepared with memory techniques and Memory Palaces is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Because you are able to focus on information in a completely different way, at a much deeper level, at a 100 percent level.
Don’t you think that’s much better than passively trying to get information into your memory?
Or do you prefer hoping or praying or wishing on a cloud that what you need to learn will osmosisize itself into your brain?
Here’s The Ugly Truth …
It ain’t gonna happen!
Or at least, it’s not going to happen in any way that is nearly as miraculous, magical and almost as instantaneously as when you use memory techniques.
And When You’ve Got The Right Memory Techniques Working For You …
You can do things with your whole might like Carlyle advises.
You can do every completely when you’re using memory techniques because of the very nature of this learning practice changes the information.
As Wayne Dyer often quotes, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
And it’s true.
When you look at a foreign language word and use memory techniques, it looks completely different than when you don’t use them.
Because when you don’t use memory techniques, you take the word as a whole.
But when you use something like the Magnetic Memory Method, you breaking the word apart.
You start thinking creatively. For example, what happens if I attach this part of the word to Al Pacino?
What about if I attach this other part of the word to Homer Simpson?
And what if I have them doing something together to help me remember the meaning of the word?
Doing This Makes Learning Tastier Than Candy!
The learning process becomes like liquorish in a candy store. You just can’t help but suck on every last jawbreaker and you don’t want to chew it and you don’t want to swallow it because it tastes so good and you want to hold that wonderful taste of knowledge in your mouth much longer.
So you hold it in your mind much longer.
You become interested in the information in a completely different way.
The information becomes part of the theatre in your mind.
The information becomes a character.
The information becomes real.
But You Have To Give It 100% Of Your Attention
Not 25% percent of your attention.
Not scribbles on an index card attention.
Not passive spaced repetition software attention.
You’ve Got To Give It The Attention Of Your Entire Soul
And more than that, your whole mind, your whole imagination, your whole being.
So get out there.
Get prepared with a dedicated memory strategy and at least one solid Memory Palace and never forget:
“Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Read this book:
Jul 15 2015