Sunday, November 25, 2007

Memory Power -Technique 8 : Mind Map Town!

I would recommend that you don’t try this system until you have grown confidence using all the other systems, and that you are able to create strong images in your head in under 4 seconds. If you can’t do that yet, don’t worry. With only a couple of weeks practice you will be able to, and when you can, return and have a go at one of the most powerful uses of the memory system I can imagine. And it’s fun too!

You need to have an awareness of what mind mapping is. If you haven’t come across the term before, might I recommend you take a few moments to read it up on the internet. I would suggest the home page of the man who invented Mindmapping – Tony Buzan .

Mind mapping creates colours and images on a piece of paper which which by there very nature are more memorable. They are also fantastic tools for being able to pull together information and cross reference it, without the restrictions of the linear page.

That said, if you have lots of information on a page – for instance if you were to create a mindmap of a whole book you were studying, you might miss something. This is where virtual mind mapping comes in. But it relies heavily on your ability to be creative with your mind.

It brings together shapes and rhymes – for the purpose of keeping track of how many key words and branches there are; letters – for dates and specific number related information; story – which will allow groupings of key words and access to new branches; and journey/place as a way of creating the branches of the mind map with information on each branch.And this is how it works.

Memory Power -Technique 7: Place

We now return to ancient Greece where the great memorizers first hung out! This was the very system, also known as the LOCI system, that they used.

They would walk around their city or town, getting a real feel for their environment. Sometimes they would explore buildings, or use statues. But they would repeat the same route over and over. Walking it. Similar in many ways to the journey system yet different in that they would be specific about the places that they would go to.

You can do the same, in a couple of different ways.

Start with your own house, each room in your house becomes a location place. Just now, in your imagination, see how powerful a mind you have and go into each room in turn and recall what is there, every item, every picture. Spend time making the impression you have as real as possible.

Now decide the order that you are going to walk around your house. Some people choose to walk around it in the order that they do as they get ready in the morning,or their bed time routine. Other people just prefer to work out their own way. The next stage is one that you are familiar with – simply put each item you want to remember in each location in your house. Make it real. I personally have found that you can use this really well with the story system. Put a key item in the room, and then remember how that key item fits into place in a story. Again, 10 locations in the house (you can include gardens, even the road outside the house in necessary), joined with 10 key items which each have a story containing 10 or more items. You are up to 100 with barely a breath.

But you can take this system further – use friends houses, other houses owned by the family …. How about museums …. Or even towns?

Next time you walk down the high street see if you can take note of some of the stores you walk past – the interesting ones at any rate. Bakers have a very strong smell of their own. An opticians always has interesting items you find no where else. Imagine each item in places that you can recall.

And finally , bringing it all together …..

Virtual mindmapping! Also known as …..

Memory Power -Technique 6 : Journey

If you take a regular journey to somewhere, using the same route over and over, the chances are that right now you will be able to sit down and recall each individual step along the way. Whether you are walking, driving or a passenger familiarity will mean that you have in your mind both sequence and unique images all ready to drop in your lists or other information that you want to store away.

Imagine a train journey that you might take to work, you ride past stations that you can identify not only by sight, without reference to a sign, but you know which station is before it and which station is after it.

All you need to do to memorise your information is place your key images on each station. Of course if you can identify other points in your journey – bridges, fields, office blocks and so forth – then you will have many more points of reference that will provide you with the building blocks and pegs for your memory system.

What’s more, because of the flexibility of this system, and because it relies on nothing more than familiarity with the real world, it is very easy to drop in the other systems.

Earlier you learned how to create a system of 1000 images, but if you had a journey of 10 stations, you could use each station in combination thereby increasing to 10 thousand separate images! Believe me, this is not impossible and you can search the internet to find such record breakers!

Memory Power -Technique 5 : Story

Stories have captured our imagination since time began, it is part of who we are. We can probably all remember our favourite story and recall many of the details. But even if you are not the most creative person in the world you can use the power of story to help you to remember lists. It actually brings together two ideas, one of story and one of linking images.

To link images you simply take your first image and link it in a humorous way to the second image, the second to the third, the third to the fourth and so on. It’s important as it was in the other systems that you focus on the link each time and just the two images rather than trying to concentrate on the whole picture. Here’s another list of 10 – a shopping list this time.

Orange juice
Washing up liquid
Shoe polish

Before I make my suggestion, why not take a moment to look through the list and link each item in a funny way. One extra note, link the last item ( the lemonade ) back to the first ( the carrots ) as this will create a memory loop which is a fantastic memory reinforcer. It means that you can start anywhere in the circle, even if you forget the first one, and still be able to cover all the items. My suggestion, which I will write as a story!

There is a field of carrots and there is one great big carrot in the middle. Walking out of a door in the carrot is a banana, one in pyjamas. Its coming out of the door with a couple of milk churns. But just as it comes out a giant mouse comes hopping over the hill and jumps on the banana thinking that it was a piece of cheese. The banana squishes and out flows a river of orange juice – reach out and taste it. The river grows and flows around you. Oh no its getting dangerous! Just as your feet lift of the orange juice river bed, slab of butter floats past. It’s greasy but you just about manage to scramble on. As you float down river, you see bubbles ahead, at first it looks like rapids but then you see it is in actual fact washing up liquid, very strange! And on one bank there is a shoe, and there is an old woman polishing it. You make your way to the bank and to the old woman - she is using a duster. She sees that you are thirsty and offers you a drink of lemonade. It tastes really good. As you look around y u see on the table a basket of fresh carrots, which came from the field just behind the shoehouse, in which there is a giant carrot ….

Just one thing to point out – the use of the old woman. You will probably know the rhyme of ‘There was an old woman who lived in a shoe’. Whenever you are able to use existing information in an image scene then do so. This has two effects. Firstly, you are using strong memories already which saves time in reconstructing images.

Secondly, and in some ways more importantly, it enables you to cross reference information from other areas of interest, and this as has already been mentioned is really how to think in the ways of a genius! Shopping lists are one thing, but there are many more areas of life which will complement each other! Once you are aware of this fact, and put the techniques into practice, you will begin to see things around you that you had never noticed before.

Memory Power -Technique 4: Letter Shape

It’s all getting a bit complex now so we will now simplify it again, and look at a system that was discovered many years ago whereby whole words could be made out of letters.

We can see that numbers are the easiest way of organising the information, but unfortunately numbers in themselves are fairly abstract. So a system had to be found which would enable numbers to take on flesh and blood. This would have two advantages – the first would mean that you could create an infinite number of memory places without having to keep the images becoming more and more complex with patches and banks; the second was that you could retain dates, telephone numbers and other strings of complex digits.

The system is based around each number having a shape which relates to the shape of a letter, or rather the shape of the letter AND ANY OTHER PHONIC SOUND PRODUCED BY SIMILAR LETTERS OR COMBINATION OF LETTERS.

For example ‘ f ‘ in fish is the same sound as ‘ ph ‘ in elephant. These are the letters, and the ways of remembering them

1 t,d – the vertical stroke down starts the letter, it is the sound produced with a flick of the tongue on the teeth

2 n – the two downstrokes on the letter n in lower cae

3 – m similar to n, in that there are 3 downstrokes

4 – r The last letter of the word four

5 – L When you look at your right hand palm upwards and thumb out, it will form the letter L. It is also Roman for 50.

6 – soft g sound – it is the number 6 upside down. As in badge. Equally the sound works for a j, so 6 is also j.

7 – K, hard ch sound, hard g sound (as in girl). Take two mirror versions of a 7 and put them back to back k

8 – F, ph,v, th sounds. Similar to a hand written f and sounds are alike.

9 – P or b . 9 is a mirror image of p, lower case b is 9 rotated 180 degrees. They are both formed on the lips with a faint pop sound.

0 – S or Z, sch, sh. Z starts the word Zero, both s and z are formed with air escaping through a small hole formed by tongue and teeth.

Take some time learning these letters as they do take time, and it is worth getting right now. All other letters including vowels and such letters as w, y etc are filler letters and do not stand for any number, but help in the formation of words.

The first 10 numbers can be a bit tricky because of the words necessary, but then I will drop in a few of the higher numbers up to the number 100 as guide.

0 – Sea
1 – Day (a calendar?)
2 – Noah
3 – Ma
4 – Ra (a type of boat, also an Egyptian God)
5 – Law – imagine a court room
6 – jaw
7 – key
8 – fee (an entrance ticket perhaps?)
9 – bay
10 – Toes
32 - man
59 – Lab
73 – comb (note that the b is not sounded, so this is a legitimate word for 73. Were the b sounded it would be number 739!)
98 – Bath

You will need to come up with the other words yourself. As it is the best way of learning and making any system personal to you. With this system it is comparatively easy to come up with a list up to 9999 long! You need to break it down though.

Dominic O’Brien is a world memory champion, and he suggests using these letters in a quite remarkable way. Break the four digit number into to parts, so you have to digits followed by two digits. The first two digits are represented by the kind of list that you have above, but the second two are famous movie stars, represented by their initials. So Sean Connery is 07 (no relation to James Bond either!) If you had a number to remember, or wanted to place something at position 5907, then you would imagine that item in a Lab with the chemist as Sean Connery making some potion or other.

Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to short 4 letter groupings. If you can manage to then any word can become a number, but it must be a touchable object or person. The word Dressing Gown for example would represent the number 1402772 … which looks suspiciously like a phone number! In which case if your friend who is called Arthur has the number 1402772, you would imagine Arthur, holding a phone (so you knew what it was about) in a dressing gown. This demonstrates how you use different systems at different times and places, which I will discuss later on when I suggest some pointers as to how to remember some of those dates that you might have to learn in history!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Memory Power -Technique 3: body parts

For kinaesthetic learners – that is people who learn best by moving around – this is for you! It involves the body and movement, at first anyway.

Think of your body as your own filing system, beginning at your feet. There are no numbers involved this time, just placement.

The pegs are (in order from bottom to top)


As you will see, there are 10 places once more. For the next ten minutes do the following. Say each part of your body out loud and then touch it. Remember what it feels like – firm, squidgy, lumpy etc.

Leave it for 5 minutes (make a cup of tea or coffee)

Now come back and close your eyes, picture yourself going through the actions again touching each part of the body as you did before BUT ONLY DO IT IN YOUR IMAGINATION, NOT PHYSICALLY. Do this for 5 minutes.

You are now ready to start using your body as the next peg system.

Find yourself 10 things and write out a list.

In your imagination take each item an attach it to each body part as you go through the list – use power memory booster tips on the way through to reinforce the memory image. For example, lets say that you wanted to remember a pound of butter from the local store, and it was the third item on the shopping list. You would imagine perhaps that you were on a hot beach somewhere sunbathing, and you had to put some suntan lotion on. Unfortunately you have forgotten it … but you do happen to have some butter in your bag – so you take it out and rub it on your THIGHS.

The way to make this peg system work is movment.

And now memorize and recall your own list!

Easy wasn’t it?

So how do you turn 100 into 1000 memory places? Using the same principle of BANKS and PATCH, you simply put another layer onto your existing combined system. So the first 100 items takes the NUMBER and RHYME combined system, and introduces a new element – your foot! Everything in the first 100 involves kicking it in some way. So if you need to remember goldfish at number 60, you imagine kicking (FOOT) a beehive and at the same time playing bat and ball with a gold fish. If you want to put that same gold fish elsewhere, say number 572, then you would imagine yourself in heaven, and there would be a swan swimming around you nibbling at your waist, which tickles! It makes you laugh so much that you fall over and land on a slimy gold fish.

Remember that you must DECODE the image in the order in which you prefer your systems otherwise you will get confused. In the examples above the order of decode that I have preferred is BODY, RHYME, SHAPE

TIP: When you come to review information it is not necessary to decode the information every time - in fact it is preferable NOT to do so. I find that once every 3 - 5 reviews is about right. This is because the important part of the memory is the imagery formed, and as you get better at it you will fall into your own patterns of forming images that are understood and easily decodable.