One of the biggest challenges with the mind palace is that it takes a lot of work and to be honest, it doesn't necessarily bode well for the technique. I'm not saying that it isn't a worthwhile endeavor to create a mind palace, but you sort of need to be in it for the long haul for it to be effective. Let's illustrate this point.
If you wanted to become a concert level pianist, versus a person that wanted to just learn to play the piano, what would be the difference? The difference would be in the amount of time that you would invest in the practice session and the final intention of all that practice. So I guess the question is, do you want to be a concert pianist or do you simply want to learn to play?
Personally, my version of the mind palace is sort of a blend between quick encoding and long term memory. I basically try to memorize quickly the things that matter most and leave everything else on the floor. Like Sherlock Holmes I only endeavor to remember things that are worth remembering, so I don't spend time memorizing an infinite amount of things because I don't feel I need an infinite amount of things to draw upon.
However, there is something to be said for having a large amount of organized information in your noodle. The more we know, the more we can associate the things we experience to the things that we already know. This can give you a big advantage in terms of gaining insight and improve your ability to learn new things. That's of course, a conversation left for another more post.
In the previous post about cultivating a memory palace, we talked about some key concepts that help us naturally to learn things.
Our brains are great at spatial recognition.
Our brains don't forget everything but sometimes information can become fuzzy.
We tend to remember strange and interesting things.
The assignment from the last post was to spend 10-15 minutes a day locating 10-12 places that you can use for your memory palace. You can use your local hospital, public library, workplace, etc... as a starting place.
HOW TO DO IT
Step 1.) Memorize a physical location in great detail.
Step 2.) Make a list of items that you wish to memorize.
Step 3.) Place those items strategically through your physical location.
Step 4.) Take a walk through your memory palace and locate the items.
Now these steps seem pretty straightforward and to be honest they are. The memory palace isn't a particularly challenging concept to grasp or execute, it's just the amount of time you need to spend practicing it and using it can feel a bit laborious.
STEP 1) MEMORIZE A PHYSICAL LOCATION IN GREAT DETAIL
Memorizing a physical location doesn't need to be a complicated process. What you need to be able to do is to envision the place in great detail. Granted, this part of the process is the most time consuming. I would suggest for now, using a location that you are already familiar with so that you can follow along on for the rest of the post.
STEP 2) MAKE A LIST OF ITEMS YOU WANT TO MEMORIZE
I would suggest a shopping list/grocery list. You can use any type of list. The list can be as random as you like, but to get the most out of this exercise, if you aren't familiar with this technique, I would suggest using a list that you are somewhat familiar with.
STEP 3) PLACE THE ITEMS ON YOUR LIST THROUGHOUT YOUR LOCATION
This is where we need to use some creativity. For a memory palace to work, we need to combine the two natural advantages you already possess for memory. Your brain memorizes spatially really well and thrives on unique and strange things. What we are going to do is place an item in a location in our mind palace.
Let's say that we have a list of 5 items.
For any of our items we need to create a unique story that will last with us. The more absurd the story the longer the memory will last. For example, let's say that I have a small apartment and as soon as I open the door I take off my shoes. When I reach down, I blob of stinky, feta cheese is on top of my sneakers. "That's pretty gross" I think to myself.
I step onto my brand new egg based flooring that I bought from Ikea. It makes the house reek in the summer, but it's the newest and greatest thing. Who could have thought that you could make a floor made of only eggs.
I walk to the counter to place my grocery items down. I grab the glass of water and see a Broccoli roach meandering down the counter. A Broccoli roach is a new class of cockroach that grows a giant piece of Broccoli on its back but apparently they don't taste like Broccoli. "Pesky Bugs" I think to myself.
I go to my bedroom and greet my pet chicken. Yollanda is actually a stuffed chicken, but who cares, it's my pet.
Then I walk to the restroom and warm up the bathtub. There is a new soap I bought called, "Wheat Bread" by Dove. It's amazing. When you wash with it you smell like a loaf of bread.
As you can see, I have incorporated a unique location for each item in my apartment. Each item is plain but the story is unique.
STEP 4) TAKE A WALK THROUGH THE MEMORY PALACE
Now that we have created our unique story and placed our items in it, we need to take a walk through our memory palace and locate our items. Do you gist of the story?
I walked in and had some stinky cheese on my shoes.
I walked on the floor made of eggs. I walked to the counter and saw the broccoli cockroach.
I greeted my pet chicken named, well I forgot the name already haha
Finally, I went to the restroom to take a shower with my new soap that makes me smell like wheat bread.
The creative story, combined with the location of the items, plays a big part in your memory. For the story above, you might be able to remember the story long after reading this post. So in a sense, you can virtually remember the list for years to come. But don't use my story, use your own. Create your own captivating stories and combine them with physical locations. The more outlandish and vivid the story, the more you will remember it.
In closing, the mind palace is a pretty easy concept to implement if you want to remember long pieces of information. As you get more advanced in this topic, you will find it easier and you can remember more information. Like always love to learn again, and take care.
If you want a compelling and funny story about memorization, please check out the book, "Moonwalking With Einstein". It is possibly one of my favorite reads of 2019. Here is a link to Amazon so you can purchase it if you feel it's worth your time.