7 Techniques To Use The Method Of Loci
At the World Memory Championships, participants have been able to memorize hundreds of random digits, a shuffled pack of playing cards or names of numerous strangers in less than an hour. Do these people have an exceptional brain we can only dream of?
Surprisingly enough, good memory is available not only to preordained few. As Ed Cooke, a competitor from England, has stated, “What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly.” A cultivated memory is acquired by training your mind with effective techniques and one of those is the memory palace. In this post we will teach you the most important steps to build your own one.
What is a Memory Palace? – The Concept, Origin & Benefits
Method of Loci
Known as a journey method, memory palace is a widely used memory aid that helps you create a place in your mind to store information. The method is also referred as loci, which derives from Latin locus, meaning place.
The concept of memory palaces is deeply rooted in the fact that we are good at navigating and remembering places. In addition, we remember better when we put the content to be memorized into a context, when we transform it into something familiar and meaningful to us.
The memory palace is one of the most sophisticated memory techniques and dates back to Ancient Greece. Simonides, a poet, attends a banquet that ends tragically: the hall collapses leaving everyone buried under the ruins. The destruction deprives people of any possibility of recognizing the bodies.
Here is when Simonides, the lucky survivor, comes to help. He recalls where each person has been sitting at the banquet. Since then, the memory palace technique has been used widely to train and discipline human memory.
Everyday Life Examples
Joshua Foer, a science journalist, who attended the World Memory Championships to cover the news, ended up registering as a competitor for the following year. The result was shocking. He won the competition and is now the author of world best seller “Moonwalking with Einstein” published in 33 languages.
Scott Hagwood, a four-time U.S. memory champion, uses featured luxury houses to accomplish various memorization tasks. Dr. Yip Swee Chooi, another memory contest champion, has memorized a 57,000-word dictionary by using his own body parts.
Memorization is a skill to be used not only in competitions. It has been proven amazingly effective in various spheres of our life. Memorizing a poem or your next business speech, a list of words for your foreign language lesson or a list of goods to be bought in the supermarket, multiple telephone numbers or dozens of new recipes ─ all can be handled easily once you know how to create and use memory palaces.
Build a Memory Palace – 7 Steps
So, how does it all work? To succeed in building and using memory palaces, you should choose a place you are very well familiar with, identify locations you want to store information in, explore and reuse your palace and make the memorization as unusual as possible.
1. Pick a Place You Know Well
Especially if you are a beginner, choose a real place: your house, office, a church, a store, or a park. It can be as large or as small as you wish. Decide on a whole building or select a separate room or location. You can travel from museum halls to boards of cruise ships, from gym to beauty salons, from a concert hall to a sports stadium, from a waterfall to your city center… Simply make sure the place is imprinted in your mind, so that you can remember many details without much effort. The more detailed and spacious the place, the more information you can store in that mental space.
2. Define a Route
To make memorization easier, you need to create a certain route that will lead you from one point to another in the memory palace. For example, you can decide that you will always enter your palace from the front door, or you will consider objects to your right then turn to those to your left. Defining a route is especially effective if you need to memorize a list in a certain sequence. This may apply to memorizing a list of events or objects, certain dates for your History class, main points in your next speech, etc.
3. Identify Storage Locations
If your memory palace represents a route itself (for example, your drive to your favorite supermarket) you should decide which objects will serve as storages. These could be houses along the road, statues, trees and plants, road signs, etc. In a building, these could be shelves, curtains, boxes, furniture, and electronic devices, among others. The takeaway here is to create distinct storages for your information, so that you will not mix them up.
4. Explore and Memorize Your Memory Palace
An effective way to do this is to visit and revisit your memory palace. Visualize every single detail possible: objects, smells, colors, sizes, and materials the objects are made out of. Go on adding sounds and movements. See the brightness of the light and feel the weather outside as you open the window.
5. Store Manageable Information in Each Place
After observing and memorizing your palace, it’s high time to start using the mental space. Start small. Especially if you are a beginner, you need to play with as much information as you can handle. Put information that should go together in one place and make sure you determine a separate place for the next data. For instance, if you are preparing for an exam, you can place each exam topic in a separate room, and attach an image to each of the bullet points you want to remember.
6. Make Memorization Memorable!
The more extraordinary and unusual your associations, the better! Think of absurd situations and connections that will force the information to stick in your memory. Imagine spaghetti rolling out of the keyhole of your door, your favorite cartoon heroes coming out of the oven of your kitchen, pictures on the walls talking and moving, your favorite rock group singing on your bed, etc. Place gigantic animals or objects into tiny spaces. Play with words and associations; make them funny, crazy, weird, even dirty – it is the key to memorization that lasts.
Let’s assume you need to deliver a speech on benefits of taking massive open online courses. Pick your house as your memory palace. If you want to start with the point that online courses enable students to socialize with thousands of peers worldwide, you can imagine Mark Zuckerberg with a Facebook T-shirt at your front door. Attach your first point to this image.
Now walk into the corridor and meet your boss on a black horse to remind you that passing online courses creates opportunities for finding a better job. Then look up at the picture on the wall and see your teacher of the Spanish language graciously dancing flamenco. This is your hint that online courses are an effective way of improving foreign language skills.
You can continue this journey endlessly and add as much information as you wish. Remember, memorization becomes easier when there are extraordinary associations and vivid visualization.
7. Use, Reuse and Build New Palaces
No matter how well you know your palace, keep on visiting and using it. If you have memorized a speech to be delivered and you no longer need the same place, place something else in the same location (you are already familiar with nitty-gritty details of the place!). When you start, you had better use places you are familiar with, but as you proceed, it is encouraging to build new palaces – the hotel you have stayed in, your friend’s house or room, your relative’s summer house, etc.
Using memory palaces has a number of undeniable advantages. It helps to access locations any time we want, take any direction needed, recall a concrete sequence, add information between pieces of data, and feel the “distance” between different points. What else do we need to master the information we want to memorize?
How to Build a Memory Palace – Summary
Memory palace is a priceless tool to help you feel the power of storing unlimited amount of information in your mind with little effort. When you memorize, you not only train your memory but also explore how your memory works. Most importantly, you find out the true potential of your mind.
Building memory palaces and using them is not about getting rid of your gadgets and relying exceptionally on your memory. It is about training your brain to be able to perform surprisingly better in any task, both in professional and personal settings.
If you curious about a course that will teach you the techniques in more detail you may consider checking out the Become a SuperLearner 2 course. This class will explain and teach you both reading improvement and memory tactics.
Sources & further reading: Mind Secrets | Wikipedia