learn how to learn how to create a memory palace

How to Create a Memory Palace — Learn How to Learn

Our schools and workplaces tell us the things we need to know, but they don’t teach us how to learn.  That’s the problem.  We need to learn how to learn first.  So, let’s see how to create a memory palace.  Jump on the learning express!  You can do it!

The ability to recall data affects every aspect of life, and it all starts when we are children in school.  Our school system uses the ability to recall things as a way to measure intelligence.  Although this is not an accurate measure of intelligence, they use tests because it is easy.

Standardized testing makes it easy to assess people.  The scary part is these assessments are used to determine what schools we attend and what jobs we can get.  In reality, these tests are not measuring intelligence but the capacity to recall data. Sad, but true.  Our employers and educational require us to know certain data, they tell us what we should know, but not how to learn.

Learn How to Learn

Our mind is a marvelous mechanism with the ability to create an unlimited number of different frameworks for retaining information.  We can learn how to engage our memory and open its potential. That’s how we achieve optimal learning outcomes.  Children as young as five can learn all the numbers from 1 to 100 and all the planets in the Universe in and out of sequence.  You can do this!

We know these memory-building tools have been available for eons and it should make you wonder why these learning tools and strategies are not well known.  These are the “best-kept secrets” of learning that should be a part of our standard educational curriculum.

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” ― Albert Einstein

All we need to do is earn how to learn, and then we can use the full potential of our mind.  The great part is that we have all the equipment to do it.  The main ingredients we need to create a memory place are things we already have: language, imagination, and common sense.  We can use these tools to create the most fabulous mansion, a veritable palace.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

When we discover the tremendous power of the memory, we open the door to a whole different level of learning ability.  If we expand our ability to learn, we increase self and social awareness.  Expanding memory creates new connections in the brain. This is the key to optimal learning. If we discover how to use our memory, we can exceed our expectations.

How to Create a Memory Palace

Learning to use the full power of memory is an age-old technology, and these techniques actually date back to the Greek Pythagoras (1).  People studied how to use their memory because they realized it was the highest form of technology.  It still is!

Ancient cultures did not have computers to make calculations.  Instead, they found out how to unlock the powers of optimal learning, and so increased the capabilities of their minds.  We forget that the mind still is the most extraordinary computer.

These memory techniques are just as applicable today as ever, and there have been public TV shows on this subject.  For example, Jack Lannom ran a TV series in the early 1980s that synthesized and showed these systems, and you can learn how to create a memory palace, too.

The Key to Optimal Learning is Memory

Before learning how to optimize memory, let’s talk about what it is. Memory is the ability to store and retrieve data, and this makes it one of our most important assets.   The ability to recall information (2) is a major aspect of who we are.  Our memory works in harmony with two other aspects of the mind, imagination, and emotion.

Our memories tell us who we are and what we can do.  Memories affect our thinking and behaviors, and like any other physical or mental ability, we can improve it if we know how.  When we improve memory, we increase our overall mental ability.  Creating a memory palace is the key if you want to be more intelligent.

There’s a lot more going on with memory than we realize.  Memory is a form of time travel.  Our memories can differ significantly from the actual thing we recall.

Several factors affect memory.

  • The passage of time.
  • The emotions associated with the memory.
  • Prejudiced or biased values which taint memories.
  • The quality and amount of sleep.
  • Emotional distress, stress and anxiety or Depression.
  • Physical or nervous systems disorders (Thyroid problems).
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • The use of alcohol.
  • Many medications have negative effects on memory.

However, we can overcome these obstacles with some simple learning techniques.  We have the innate ability to encode almost infinite amounts of information we just need to learn how to learn.

The Learning Express Tools of Optimal Learning

the learning express for optimal learning

The key to this learning system is leveraging memory’s natural ability.  We do this through specific, powerful techniques.  Here’s how to create a memory palace!

We enhance our memory by using the following elements:

  • Focus for Short Periods, 10 or 15 minutes
  • Build a Memory Infrastructure
  • Use the Power of Your Imagination
  • Engage All The Senses in Learning
  • Create Long-Lasting Neuro Connections (transition data from immediate to short-term and then long-term memory.)
  • Use Substitution, Association, and Relationship
  • Link Memory with Emotions

The above ingredients are found in many memorable stories.  Our favorite stories are easy to remember because they are sequential progressions.  Walking up the driveway and into your house becomes the first step in a powerful memory vehicle.  We can visualize this routine easily.  Our daily routine becomes a memory device on which we can add data.   All the great Sages use interesting stories to teach principles.

Three rules govern our ability to remember: primacy, recency, and regressive repetition.   If you learn to use them, you can make any amount of information a part of your permanent memory.  You can retain and it recall forever.

The rules of primacy and recency show us it is easier to recall what we learn first and last.  The first two items and the previous two items in a sequence are the easiest to remember.  These are our memory bookends.  The best practice is to break down the information into segments of 5 items; this is an optimal chunk of data.

Regressive repetition is rehearing the new information on a schedule, which increases with time.  Repeat the new data within one hour after the session.  Repeat it two hours later, followed by a refresher four hours later.  The next day, repeat the information three times: morning, afternoon, and evening.

If you forget something, don’t worry.  Review your notes, and then reinforce the data you missed by reviewing it mentally.  Be sure to stick to the 10 or 15 period of study.  The next day, repeat and review the information twice.  On the third day, review the data once.  Skip the fourth day.  Then mentally check the data on day five.  This routine will make the new information a part of your permanent memory.  Don’t worry.  The more you use the system, the better your memory will become.

When you review the data, do it forwards and backward.  Then start at the middle point and check it in both directions.  This strategy will immediately recall the data in and out of sequence.

Focus

Pick a time when you are ready.  Practice with 100% focus.  So, no multitasking, especially when you are creating the initial memory.  The Japanese Tea Ceremony exemplifies how culture uses mundane activities to practice focus.  When you learn how to learn, the process should be fun.  It helps to keep you focused.

You achieve more learning with shorter periods with a two to three-minute break between each session.  Start with 2 or 3 five-minute sessions, then stop for 2 or 3 minutes between each session.  Then, build up the number of sessions to five or six.  Finally, use an audiotape to reinforce your learning.  Hearing your own voice is another way to cement learning.

Build a Memory Infrastructure

You will find out several basic ways to help create a network for your memories.  A memory infrastructure is a mechanism you can use for multiple subjects.

The number association system is one of the most basic but powerful memory devices.  If you have a shop with tools, one of the best ways to track them is to place them on a pegboard on the wall.  Place the devices in the most logical order, then draw around the outside of the instrument to create an outline or silhouette of the device.  This way, you never have to think about where it belongs.  You look for the shape, and you know where it belongs.  If you look at the pegboard, you can see which tool is missing.  This way, you never lose a tool, and you stay organized.

The storyline system is another powerful memory system.  Pick your favorite story, break it down into segments, and there is your device.  You can use any narrative that has a memorable progression.  You can also create a story using the routines from your daily life.

Name association system will increase your social credibility with minimal effort.  Imagine being able to remember the names of everyone you meet.  Yes, it is not only possible; it is fun.

Use the Power of Your Imagination

Your imagination is the key to creating memory associations.  Whatever you develop these cues with the imagination, strengthen the connection to this inexhaustible creative source.  The more you use it, the more powerful it becomes.

The more outlandish the visualization you create, the better.  Use the power of your creative mind to create unique sights, sounds, smells, textures, and feelings.  And, this links with our next element.

Engage All the Senses in Learning

When you create memories using this strategy, it is essential to engage your senses.  Don’t just create an image.  Create an exaggerated outlandish image: Do something with it.  Use different colors.  Turn your pictures into videos that make sounds and smell.  Those cookies are purple, and they smell like cinnamon and taste like chocolate.  They make you feel marvelous.  Get the idea.

Create Long-Lasting Neuro Connections

Think about a spiderweb.  The web is the visual cue to help you remember.  Like a spiderweb, we connect the memory using several memory enhancers.  Using several of the enhancers will make the memory easy to recall.

We start by creating a unique and memorable item in our immediate memory.   It makes it possible to link the data into our short-term memory.  Dynamic repetition solidifies the data in our long-term memory.  This memory enhancement technique is one of the best-kept secrets.

You can use this process quickly to lock in and remember people’s names.  For example, you meet someone named Sonny.  One of the most straightforward name associations is with the Sun.  So, you associate sunshine coming out of their eyes.  You make the image personal.  Feel the Sunshine on your face and happy emotion with it.  From that point on, you will always be able to recall Sonny’s name.

Substitution, Association, and Relationship

These three elements are the threads of the story.  When you incorporate them into your narrative, it makes recall much more straightforward.    These elements can help us recall unusual names or long data strings.  What you do is break down the term into syllables.  You substitute the syllables for objects or create distinctive and memorable associations for each syllable.  Then you relate everything using a story.  It turns unusual and lengthy processes into an account you can easily recall.

For example, we want to create something to use as a memory anchor for number one.  We visualize the number 1.  Then we pick something that reminds us of this shape, like a flagpole, a pen, or a sail mast.

We make it unusual, something we can remember.  We envision it on a playground with a chord attached to the flagpole.  The clip on the rope bangs against the pole, making a noise.  To make it even better, paint the flagpole your favorite color.    Imagine it is a lovely sunny day, feel the sun and happy feeling it gives.  Using this flag pole as the memory anchor, we can use it along with many things, and add or associate other things with it.  In this example, we start with an association, then engage our imagination to add sound and feelings.

Link with Emotions

The last element is learning to link data with emotion because we want our feelings involved in the learning process.  In our example above with Spiderweb Connections, we used Sonny’s name and associated a happy feeling in the mix.

Memory Method Systems

There are several memory infrastructure systems.  Like our pegboard example, these structures are the best-kept secrets of memory enhancement.  We learn how to create a memory palace using this infrastructure.  We can expand each of these frameworks almost indefinitely.  Another way to increase your memory’s effectiveness is by using an audiotape to walk you through the technique, reinforcing the memory framework.  Make your recordings of the data you want to memorize.  Hearing your voice will also help to cement the process.

The framework of these memory methods includes:

Sensory Symbol Systems

These systems involve all the senses to create a pegboard — it uses creative visualization, all five senses, and emotion as memory linking devices.

Theme Systems

We can use themes to create significant groups of data.  Creating a topic for a grouping makes it easy to distinguish from other parts of a more extensive data set.  For example, you use snowflakes to signify numbers from 400 to 499.  Once you learn all the individual numbers, all you do is sprinkle some snow to make them 400s

Sequential Systems

This aspect of the memory works with other memory systems.  For example, you may have a theme for a group of numbers from 90 to 100.  This theme would be airplanes, so all the numbers in this theme would have something to do with aircraft.

Topical Systems

These are subsets of data around topics like the solar system’s planets or the steps to a special recipe.

The Story

This system combines elements of the above methods to create a matrix with several data levels.  For instance, you can memorize vast amounts of data in and out of a sequence using a well-known story like the wizard of oz.  It’s why some call it a memory palace because it enables you to memorize large data sets, even a whole textbook, using a storyline. Wow!

In Conclusion

Use the tools presented here to develop the power of your mind.  Create your own memory infrastructure.  It will enhance your life.  Jump on the learning express.

If we learn how to learn can increase our overall mental ability, why isn’t this common knowledge, and why are we not taught these fundamental tactics?

It would seem like an obvious priority to teach people how they use their memory before you have them use it.  Before telling people what they need to know, teaching them how to learn makes sense.  Learning how to use your memory correctly is the key.  It will make remembering what you need to recall fun and effective.

References

(1) Human Memory Storage.  
(2) Memory Recall and Retrieval System

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