How to Use the Mind Palace Method for Flawless Memory
Remember BBC’s Sherlock? Among the various mind methods the eccentric genius employs on the show, Mind Palace is one of the most famous.
However, you do not need to be an eccentric genius to employ the ‘Mind Palace’ technique. While the method is different from the overtly creative representation on the show, the Mind Palace Method of memory training has existed for centuries. You can use it to accurately remember a vast variety of information – from grocery lists to historical facts, dates and number sequences, even foreign language vocabulary.
Any new method takes some practice and preparation, though. In this article, we give you all the information you need to begin your Mind Palace journey.
What is the Mind Palace method?
The mind palace method is using your spatial memory to “peg” new information which can then be recollected through association. In its simplest form, this means you visualize a place that you are very familiar with – say the living room of your home, and then imagine and/or visualize the things you want to remember – say a shopping list – in the place of various objects in that space.
let’s elaborate on this example.
Your shopping list contains six items – apples, carrots, lemons, bacon, milk, and washing detergent. In the ‘palace’ of your mind, which is your living room, in this case, each item is represented by an object in your room.
Your front door can have large carrots on them, the artwork on the wall can be adorned with bacon strips, maybe your sofa is overrun with lemons. And so on. With some practice, this can help you remember the correct order of things as well as the types of them.
For example, you need to remember the specific order of dates in which certain emperors of a dynasty ascended to the throne. You can peg the information to various objects on the route you take to reach your living room from the front door.
You can use this basic idea to construct any number of sequences with any number of spaces.
How to build your own memory palace
- Choose a familiar space
The first principle of effective mind palace building is choosing a space that you can remember almost effortlessly. Specific areas of your home work best. Can be the route you take daily to your workplace, with each subway station working as memory pegs. You can even use your own body parts. Anything works, as long as it’s familiar.
- Create and imprint a route in your mind
Go over the chosen space physically and select objects for your pegs. Assign each piece of information to a selected peg and create a map of subsequent objects. This map can be of any kind – it can be a bird’s eye view, or first-person experience. You can even visualize yourself going over the route as you watch in third person. Anything that suits you will do.
Now close your eyes and go over the route multiple times in your mind. Try to remember every single inch of the route. When you catch yourself missing out, open your eyes and physically go over the route once again.
This process is called imprinting. Do this over and over again until you can recall all of it without any effort.
- Associate (and make things weird)
The next step is associating your chosen pegs with the relevant information.
The trick to do this successfully is to make the association as unconscious, free, and unconventional as possible. We don’t remember the ordinary, but the weird, fantastical, out-of-order things stay on our minds. Yet an association needs to be in place.
Let’s work this out with the shopping list example.
Suppose you are pegging the item ‘bacon’ to the front door. Imagine a curtain made of huge bacon strips in the place of the door that is wriggling down the front steps. The imagery is associated with doorways with the use of curtains. Yet it includes an element of fantasy and horror so that it stays on your mind.
Run over these scenarios with each memory peg in your mind.
Also, visualization is not the only technique you can use to peg your memory. Sounds, smells, textures, even feelings can become memory pegs. Visuals are great as a starting point though.
- Practice, practice, practice
Once you have the mind palace in place, practice the hell out of it. Take a gap of a few hours to a day before you start the recall practice. It can feel a little challenging at first, but shouldn’t take more than a handful of attempts to get everything right at one go. The best practice is to start with smaller and simpler ‘palaces’ like shopping lists and then go over to more complicated information like study materials.
Technology has brought information to our fingertips so that we often don’t even try to remember anything. Google cannot help you during a test, however, or when you are learning a new language. The Mind Palace method has been tried and tested for thousands of years, from the ancient Greeks to modern polyglots, all swear by it. Go give it a try!