Our memory is an incredibly important tool for our everyday lives. It is what we use in order to relive the past and reminisce and is what thus gives our experiences meaning, but at the same time it is what we use to make decisions and to guide our future actions – without memory we’d be as useless as babies. But then there are also the practical aspects of memory on a more day to day basis as we use it to do maths and sums, to socialise and remember names and faces and to learn new subjects and pass exams.
As such then our memory is an important tool that’s very much worth training, and with the right strategy it is possible for anyone to improve just as they might improve a muscle or a physical ability. In fact, it can be trained to such a degree that some people even manage to make a living out of being ‘memory masters’ and quickly learning the order of a pack of cards or doing other impressive stunts.
So what’s their secret? And how can you learn the same kind of mastery? Here we will look at the answers to those questions so that you might develop a better command of your memory and so of time itself…
In his book ‘Trick of the Mind’, Derren Brown explains one memory technique popular among memory masters which is ‘liking’. Here if you want to remember a list or sequence of any kind, you will remember the order by linking those things together. To do this you will normally create a visual scene in your mind and the intention is to make that visual scene as absurd and therefore memorable as possible. For instance then if you were trying to remember a shopping list consisting of bananas, bread and fish – you might visualise a banana sandwich, and then fish made entirely out of bread. Take some time to really look at this mental image and once it’s burned on your mind’s eye, move on to the next one. This is also useful for remembering the order of the items on a list.
Of course if you need to remember a date for an exam, you won’t have the option to create weird visual images – unless of course that is you use rhyming items for the numbers. Thus instead of 1955 you have ‘pie clean nifty dive’, and to remember this you might think of someone dusting a pie, of someone cool like the Fonz with a vacuum, and then of the Fonz doing a dive. Suddenly you have something a lot more memorable than dry numbers.
Pneumonics are little ‘tricks’ you can use to remember something. Rhyme is a common form of pneumonic, but another is to try using acronyms – so for instance you might remember the 4 C’s which is how we assess diamonds: carat, cut, clarity and colour. Simply having the first letter here is enough to trigger our memory.
When remembering things from long ago sometimes our unconscious mind has more information than we’re aware of but it has simply been repressed or buried. Using hypnosis a therapist can take us through various layers of our consciousness by following leads and using tricks like free association and this can sometimes help us to relieve memories we thought long forgotten.
The above guest post is written by David Varen who writes guest posts on health, self development and personality. He also authors a blog which speaks on mental tension and stress treatment.