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Mnemonic Memory Palace Book One

How To Build a Mnemonic Memory Palace:

The Forgotten Craft of Memorizing With Total Recall.

Book One and Two

By Sjur Midttun

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher.

 

Copyright 2016 by Sjur Midttun

totalrecallmethod.com

Author’s Preface

Most books on memory palaces start with a historic explanation for the phenomenon, and then evolves in a very literary style without a good focus on how one can really learn how to make memory palaces.

This book is different.

It’s a practical guide to how you anyone can create memory palaces, and how you can use them to memorize things.

This is the complete set of both books in the series volume of a two-volume set.

Sjur Midttun, 5th of June, 2016

 

 

Table of contents

Author’s preface

 

BOOK ONE: The fundamentals

 

Chapter one: Remembering is seeing

Chapter two: Ancient knowledge forgotten

Chapter three: What is a memory palace?

Chapter four: No need to be a genius, just make it absurd

Chapter five: Your first memory palace

Chapter six: Memory areas, memory walks and memory journeys

Chapter seven: Basic tips and tricks

Chapter eight: Managing your different memory palaces

Chapter nine: More about keywords

Chapter ten: A sample memory palace walk through

Chapter eleven: Troubleshooting the technique

Chapter twelve: Recap, and tips on going forward with this knowledge

 

BOOK TWO:

 

Chapter one: Memorizing playing cards and learning the PAO-system

Chapter two: Presidential practice

Chapter three: Shakespearian practice

Chapter four: The secret of joining your memory palaces together

Chapter five: Long term storage palaces

Chapter six: Memorizing speeches

Chapter seven: Memorizing textbooks

Chapter eight: Memory palaces and learning languages

Chapter nine: Learning how to conceive and build a virtual memory palace

Chapter ten: How to use apps and software to boost your work

Chapter eleven: Summary, and plan for going forward

[]Chapter one: Remembering is seeing

How good is your memory? If I asked you to take three to five minutes and memorize the following list of 20 objects, how many items would you be able to remember? Try it now, and see. Set aside three to five minutes, and memorize as many of these objects as possible, in sequence.

 

Fish, carpet, cigarette, pencil, hamburger, phone, football, umbrella, key, beard, typewriter, car tire, dinner plate, ear, pillow, boat, apple tree, toothbrush, necklace, a bottle of beer.

How did you do?

If you’re like most people you are probably able to memorize six or seven of these objects in sequence over the course of a few minutes. Most people are not able to memorize much more than nine objects, and virtually nobody more than ten.

One of the reasons is probably that most people memorize lists by repetition. By repeating the list again and again, they manage to remember. Give them long enough time, and most people would be able to remember the whole list of 20 objects, if they didn’t give up because of boredom.

But with a time constraint of five minutes, the majority will only be able to memorize up to max ten objects.

Let’s do an experiment.

Thinking differently about memorization

In the following five minutes you will learn how to memorize all these 20 objects in just five minutes or less, simply looking over the list once. No repetition needed. The technique you will learn lies at the heart of traditional memory techniques, which are also called mnemonics.

But first – a word of caution. The system will involve absurdity. It will involve being silly. Memory techniques use “silliness” and absurdity for a reason. It gets results. So stay open-minded to the experiment. Follow these principles, the results will speak for themselves.

With this technique you can memorize lists of 20, 50, 100 in fact as many objects as you want, in sequence, just by looking at each entry once. No limits, just like your natural memory has no practical limit. And imagine, if you can do this kind of memory feat, memorizing any kind of information is possible.

The thing about memory is that the trick isn’t really to learn information, but to recall it. The human brain can store an enormous amount of information, but in most cases this information is not at one’s fingertips. Using memory techniques, information once learned will be at your fingertips, ready to use.

 

So what’s the secret?

Visualization

Well, the basics for memory techniques is visualization.

 

Some people are naturally good at this, others need more practice. But everyone can do it. If I ask you to close your eyes and imagine the front door of the house you live in, you will have no problem doing that. Or your office building, or the interior of your car, or the second floor of your house, etc.

You can even visualize things you haven’t seen, like a pink orange or a pin striped apple. Which brings creativity to the picture. The brain is a creative tool, and in many cases it can be fooled into believing that it’s seeing things that cannot be there.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to star hallucinating, but if you can visualize things, you can memorize things. And this technique for memorization can therefore be called creative visualization. Because at the heart of mnemonics is coming up with images or scenes.

Linking/association/chaining

In order to link objects together into a list, we also use something that can be called the linking technique, or chaining. A list is a simply a chain of objects. And a list, in mnemonics, is a chain of images or scenes.

So memorizing a list means making a chain of visual objects. And the way you must link the objects together is by using what I call “creative images”.

Let me explain what I mean. Here’s our list:

Fish, carpet, cigarette, pencil, hamburger, phone, football, umbrella, key, beard, typewriter, car tire, dinner plate, ear, pillow, boat, apple tree, toothbrush, necklace and a bottle of beer.

The first word of the list is fish. The second word is carpet. Come up with a creative image or a short, animated scene that links these two objects together, just make sure the image/scene is absurd, illogical, eye-catching and vivid.

Trick #1: Make the image absurd!

The more absurd the scene is, the better. This is how you will remember. This is why you won’t have to repeat over and over again. This is how it sticks to your brain.

You just have to see, really see, the image before your inner eye once, and you will not forget it.

It will stick to your mind for as long as you want. Which brings us to trick number two.

Trick #2: Really see the image in your mind.

In a way, the method is not about memorizing, but simply seeing. Visualizing. In the beginning this may be difficult, and it may take time. Not everyone is used to thinking creatively and visualizing, but after a while it will be easier. And most people quickly get to a point where this takes no time at all.

But no matter what your level of imagination or visualization skills, you need to really see the images in your mind.

Trick #3: Make the images as vivid as possible.

In order to remember images, you should make them really vivid. Place them in a bright light, see them in full color, see the images up close. Use all your senses, not just sight, but hearing, feeling and smell, too. Make up a scene that is rich in these details.

And animation is better than still-images. This way you are not really making just one image, one snapshot, but rather a series of images just like a video-clip or an animation.

Trick #4: Place yourself in the images.

The more active you make yourself in these images, the easier it will be to remember. Place yourself in the scenes whenever it feels natural. And see it from this “point of view” perspective.

When you place yourself in these scenes, you also have a unique possibility to add sensory details to them. Does your scene involve an apple? In your minds eye, see that you’re taking a bite of the apple. Be specific. What kind of apple is it? A deep red, sweet apple? A green, tart one? Take a bite and “feel” how it feels.

That’s it.

These are the basic tips. Later we will expand on them to empower your memory even further and make it as fool-proof as possible. But for the moment: let’s start memorizing the list of 20 objects. I will show you how to do it using creative mnemonic association, but feel free to use your own images/scenes if you like.

This will take probably 20 to 30 minutes, just because I’m really taking my time here in explaining what’s going on. Once you get started with mnemonics, however, you will be able to memorize such a list in a much shorter time, more like 5 to 10 minutes.

Let’s memorize the list object by object

FISH and CARPET. Make an absurd connection. For instance: see a carpet that is made of fish, sewn together into a whole carpet. Close your eyes and really see this absurd image. Work on the image, too. Imagine yourself stepping on the carpet with your bare feet, and feeling the oily fish under your feet. Perhaps the fish are still alive and kicking.

See this FISH-CARPET, and feel yourself walking on it. Once you’ve really seen it before your inner eye, forget about the link and move to the next one.

CIGARETTE. This time you must make a link between CARPET and CIGARETTE. Perhaps you’re lighting up a big, rolled-up carpet instead of a cigarette. Work on the image. Expand it. Feel how heavy the carpet is. Really see yourself putting this carpet-cigarette into your mouth, and lighting it up. Perhaps you have to roll the carpet up yourself before putting it into your mouth and lighting it, and once you’ve done that, see yourself inhaling the CARPET-CIGARETTE.

Close your eyes if you have to, and take your time. Once you made a strong, absurd link, and once you’ve really seen the image before your inner eye, move on to the next link. Don’t give the CARPET CIGARETTE link another thought. Just forget about it and move on.

The next object on our list is PENCIL. So link CIGARETTE and PENCIL. See yourself writing on a big piece of paper, only the pencil you’re using is a long, smoking cigarette. As you write, ashes come off the tip of the cigarette. Make the cigarette a bit bigger than a normal cigarette. “Feel” the texture of it. It really is a cigarette, only you’re using it to write with. See the image and forget about it move on. You can use other creative images if you like.

Anything as long as it is absurd, illogical and vivid. My examples are just illustrations.

Perhaps you’re sharpening a cigarette in a pencil sharpener. Anything, as long as you make the connection absurd and as long as you see it before your inner eye. Then move on. Once you’ve made the connection, forget about it.

The next object is HAMBURGER.

I’m sure you’ve understood the principle. Try and come up with a creative association between PENCIL and HAMBURGER.

Maybe you’re eating a nice Big Mac, only there’s a pencil inside the bun instead if the hamburger. You’re taking a big bite, and you crack your teeth on the pencil.

As always….work on the image. “Feel” the taste of the led in your mouth, for example. And really see the image before you. You’re eating a hamburger, but it’s full of pencils! Silly? Yes. Does it work? Wait and see.

Make the image more vivid: add a couple of pencils for good measure. See a hamburger, full of pencils, but on top of that it’s also got a huge pencil stuck through it. Make it vivid. See the image. And forget about it. Move on.

The next object is PHONE. Make the link between hamburger and phone. The phone is ringing, you’re answering it only it’s got a hamburger strapped to each end of the receiver. Two really big burgers. Remember: make the image vivid – and making objects bigger will help, too.

You’re answering the phone, and you’ve all of a sudden got a hamburger on your ear, and you’re talking into another hamburger. Close your eyes, and really “see” the image. Then just forget it.

Next object is BALL. Make the link between telephone and ball. Picture yourself on a football field kicking around a giant telephone. Remember to make the image vivid: which color is the telephone? How big is it? Which design? Be specific. See yourself in the situation, on the field, kicking a giant phone, scoring a goal. Maybe the phone is ringing, too, just to make it extra vivid. Close your eyes and “see” the image.

Next object. UMBRELLA. Make a link between ball and umbrella. Make one up yourself, or use this image: It’s raining footballs from the sky, and you have to open an umbrella to cover your head. Make the image vivid. “See” how the balls bounce as the hit the ground. “Look” up at the sky, and see all the footballs pouring down. See it, and then forget about it.

KEY. The link is between UMBRELLA and KEY. Try unlocking your front door lock with a big umbrella. Really see yourself trying to insert the umbrella into the lock, thinking the umbrella is a KEY.

Make the image specific: it’s your own front door. What does it look like? Make the image vivid: add a few neighbors to the image. They’re watching you trying to unlock your door with an umbrella. They’re shaking their heads and thinking that you’ve finally lost it. Really see the image, hen move on.

BEARD. See a person with a beard, only instead of a beard he’s got keys hanging from his face. Make the image vivid, introduce a violent element. Perhaps the key’s are sewn onto his face.

Notice that if you make an image violent, it will stick more easily to your memory. So really see this image.

We’re now halfway there. I’m being very elaborate because I want you to grasp a lot of elements, and because this is the first time you are using the method. After a short while, you will be making these links in no time at all.

Let’s move on.

TYPEWRITER . Make a link between BEARD and TYPEWRITER. See yourself typing on a typewriter (make it big- a giant typewriter), and the keys are bearded. The whole keyboard is covered by a beard. Make sure you really see the image, and that you see the typewriter. Make a little scene: feed paper into the typewriter, and start typing. Make the scene vivid: “feel” the bearded keys.

Next object: CAR TIRE. See a car with TYPEWRITERS instead of TIRES. Make it specific: how will a car with typewriters instead of tires behave? It’s a bumpy ride. See it. Move on. PLATE. TIRE and PLATE.  See yourself eating dinner, only the food is served on a big TYRE instead of a PLATE. The tyre is the plate. Make it specific: what are you eating. Make it vivid: “feel” the texture of the tire. See the image and move on. EAR. The connection is PLATE and EAR. See a person with huge plates instead of ears. Make the image vivid by adding some action: see the plates, and then see someone breaking them. Make it specific: which color are plates? Texture? An alternative image could be a person with big, heavy plate-earrings. Make it vivid by adding a lot of weight to the plates. See it. PLATEEAR. Move on.

PILLOW. The link is EARPILLOW. See yourself sleeping in your bed, resting your head on a giant ear. “Feel” the ear. Make the image vivid: make the ear really big. See yourself resting your head on it. Make it even more vivid: slightly disgusting, actually., with pieces of ear wax on your head from resting your head on it. The more vividly you can see this, the better.

BOAT. See someone sitting on a giant PILLOW in the middle of a river. See yourself sitting on the pillow, like you’re sitting in a boat. Perhaps the pillow-boat has got sails: bed-sheets. See the sails, see yourself on the boat, steering the pillow. PILLOWBOAT. Next link-pair is BOATAPPLE TREE. See a big boat stuck in the ground, standing upright, like a tree. Apples hanging from it, like from an apple-tree. See yourself grabbing an apple from the upright boat-tree. Taste the apple. Perhaps it’s really sour. See the image. An upright boat, like a tree, with apples hanging from it.

Next link is APPLE TREETOOTHBRUSH. See yourself in your bathroom brushing your teeth with a tree. See yourself putting toothpaste on the tree. Take your time to really see the image. Two more to go. NECKLACE. TOOTHBRUSHNECKLACE. See someone you know wearing a necklace, only it’s got toothbrushes hanging from it. Big toothbrushes. And all the brushes has got tooth paste on them, sticking to the persons neck. TOOTHBRUSHNECKLACE.

The last image is a BOTTLE OF BEER. The link is NECKLACEBOTTLE OF BEER. See yourself drinking a bottle of beer, only it’s got a lob necklace in it. When you drink from the bottle of beer, the necklace drops into your mouth. Feel how cold the necklace is. See yourself spitting the necklace out. Really see it.

And that’s it.

You finished the 20 objects, now test it

That’s all 20 objects. If you’ve followed my instructions, and really “seen” the images, they will now be stuck in your memory. If you can’t recall one of the objects, it’s because you didn’t really “see” the image, or because the image wasn’t absurd or vivid enough. In that case, go back and make that particular link better. Now, however, stop reading and recall the entire list, beginning with the first object which was FISH. Do it now.

How did you do? How many objects did you remember the first time you took this test today? And now you probably know them all. No endless repetition, you just went over the list one time.

The images are stuck in your memory just from making a single, creative, absurd association. Imagine what you can achieve if you apply these principles to other areas. Like learning languages, memorizing text books, geographical facts, certain chapters of a book or an article, etc.

Testing it out

Now. Close your book and recite the list of 20 objects again. It’s still there! Try it.

See? Now, is that amazing, or what? You haven’t memorized the old fashioned/normal way, by repetition. You only looked at the list once.

When was the last time you read ten pages of a book and learned something equally powerful? Do take some time and appreciate the potential of what you’ve just done. And just imagine what you can be able to memorize if you are able to commit a list of 20 meaningless objects in just 20 to 30 minutes. Forget about the objects in themselves, they’re meaningless. The key here is that your brain can memorize much more than you think it can, and you can help it do this in a much shorter time than you thought possible.

If you are struggling with some of the images, it’s either because you didn’t make the scene absurd, violent or vivid enough. Or that you didn’t actually see it in your mind. If you are having problems recalling the list, go back and work on your visualization for the link in question. Maybe you should make your own images, and not use my examples.

You can’t forget it once you just see it.

One of the major advantages of the technique, is that once you’ve made a link you can simply ignore it and move on. This is how you are going to save a lot of time.

You have now understood the very basic foundation for any type of efficient memorization.

Let’s go on to seeing how we can use this inside memory palaces.

[]Chapter two: Ancient knowledge forgotten

What is a memory palace? We’ll get back to that, and in plenty of detail, but first: here’s a few passages from the book “Hannibal”, by Thomas Harris.

“The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars and much information was preserved in them through the Dark Ages while vandals burned the books. Like scholars before him, Dr. Lector stores an enormous amount of information keyed to objects in his thousand rooms (…) Hannibal Lector’s palace is vast, even by medieval standards. (…) Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity. A thousand rooms, miles of corridors, hundreds of facts attached to each object furnishing each room, a pleasant respite awaiting Dr. Lector whenever he chooses to retire there.”

Yes, this is literature. And the author has some idea of the ancient methods, but probably no practical experience. Yes, you can also learn how to make great and powerful memory palaces. But we will start on a slightly smaller scale than Lector’s “thousand rooms”.

Are you ready to learn the method?

Your own house – your own memory palace

See before your inner eye a house or a building. It could be the house or building where you currently live. In fact, choose exactly that.

Make this first memory palace about the place where you’re currently living. 

Be specific. You do not need to come up with anything that is not there. In fact, you now need only to try to see exactly what is there. What does your current house look like?

Start at the beginning.

What does the front door look like? What’s its color? Texture? Is it made of wood, or metal? I guess some of the readers could be living in a tent or an igloo, in that case try to see the part where you enter into the main room. I hope nobody is currently living on the street, but in case they are, which street is it?

But seriously…really see the front door.

Enter the house through the front door, and imagine walking around the various rooms as they appear naturally going through the house. Your main job is to note details like furniture, art, and any object like lamps, TV sets, vases, bookshelves etc.

It’s amazing how much you can actually remember, or simply see, by visiting your house in your mind.

Really go through the whole of your house, room by room, object by object. Take a few minutes to do this, then return to the book.

What you have done now, by simply thinking about what your house looks like, is enter a mental construction that could become a memory palace, just like the palace of Hannibal Lector.

Storing information

A memory palace is a place you know well, that you can easily visualize. Typically a house with rooms that contain fixed objects that serve as pegs for information.

The information you are about to learn in this book will help you set up at least ten memory palaces, most likely more, giving you the possibility to memorize potentially hundreds, even thousand of keywords. Keywords that will trigger the underlying information you are storing.

You can store/memorize any type of information or fact. Text books, lectures, articles, etc, in addition to pure facts, like the popular examples of the presidents of the USA, world capitals, illnesses, medicine, the periodic table, lists of Shakespeare’s plays etc. Don’t worry about what you can store in your memory palaces, because the truth is that you can store anything you like in them. You just need the right techniques.

The method of memory palaces is one of the best ways of memorizing “boring” facts that you normally would have to simply commit to memory by endless repetition. Particularly information that needs to be kept in a particular sequence.

You have already seen how creative mnemonic association will help you remember objects in a list. Now you will see how these lists can be stored inside mental images of houses.

Memory palaces.

Mysterious knowledge from the past

The concept of memory palaces, is a fascinating one. The word itself has a certain ring to it. It plays with our imagination. Maybe because this old knowledge is little known.

It’s something mysterious.

The word “palace” suggests something extravagant, and “memory” itself is kind of elusive for most people…something mysterious. Put together, well, the effect is quite astonishing.

Also, most people don’t know what a memory palace is, so there is an element of secrecy. Secret knowledge that has been passed on to selected people only.

Maybe we find the idea of memory palaces appealing because memory itself is rather mysterious. We don’t really know how it works, and our society places great value in people who manage to memorize lots of information. A good memory is genius, in a way.

But it’s considered to be a type of genius that can be learnt. The thing is that it can.

And in this book you will. Learning how to make memory palaces should be obligatory knowledge for any child. But unfortunately, most schools are ignorant about these fantastic techniques. And that’s why most people have never heard about them. These days, where everybody has electronic devices that hooks them up to the internet in order to remember most things, the use of human memory seems to be completely ignored. But at least in scholarly activity, memory is still the most important tool. Any student that is lucky enough to learn these methods during their school years can seriously improve their grades with them. But that doesn’t mean that adults and elderly people will not have a use for them. Learning things should never go out of fashion, and the very act of memorization using memory palaces could actually improve your “true” memory. This could be good news for people who struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Have you ever wondered why many stage actors get to a ripe old age completely alert? One explanation could be the fact that they’ve spent their entire lives memorizing lines.

Memory is a muscle, so use it more.

Famous from media and literature

It is certainly true that the concept of memory palaces is virtually unknown to most people. And those few who have heard about it don’t really understand the method.

How did you hear about memory palaces?

Few people know about memory palaces from the writings of Marco Tulio Cicero (writer, orator), Marcus Fabius Quintillian (rhetorican), Giordano Bruno (philosopher) and their likes. On the other hand, you might have heard about memory palaces from films, TV shows or read about them in contemporary books.

Particularly in recent years.

We mentioned Hannibal Lector. And the British TV series “Sherlock”, which portrays a modern day Sherlock Holmes, spent a large part of one of the episodes showing us how Sherlock Holmes had constructed a large, impressive memory palace in order to store a huge number of information of the cases he was working on. He had even included memories from his childhood, for instance memories about his dog.

Holmes, in the series, used the memory palace not just for retrieving information, but in order to control his mind and stay calm under pressure.

Hannibal the cannibal

The terrifying, yet popular, serial killer used the images of a huge, elaborate, virtual Italian palace, with many rooms and objects in order to memorize all kinds of facts, including art history, and, like Holmes, old cases from the time he worked as a analyst/psychiatrist. I say his memory palace was virtual because he never actually lived in this palace. It was made up from scratch, a truly visionary feat.

No matter how you have heard about memory palaces, I am sure that you are convinced that memory palaces is something that is too complicated for you to use in your day to day life.

But this is wrong. It is easier than you think. Forget about palaces, think about the house you live in.

You already have the tools needed in order to create and use memory palaces, and the basic principle is extremely easy to learn. If you started today, within a few short weeks you could have improved your memory skills substantially. And also have memorized quite a bit of factual information just fun and training.

And, as mentioned, you could be using memory palaces to memorize almost any type of information whether it’s textbooks, lectures, languages, or any type of fact.

[]Chapter three: What is a memory palace?

A memory palace is a technique used to store and memorize information. Particularly information that needs to be remembered in a certain sequence. And as the name suggests the main idea is to use rooms, houses, buildings, palaces or simply places that you know, as “storage rooms” for the information that you wish to memorize.

In theory, the larger the house, the better, that’s why the idea of a “palace” has stuck. The Greeks also called the technique “memory theatre”, which is interesting when thinking about the fact that you have to make creative mnemonic scenes, often dramatic scenes, in order to remember things.

The Greeks were truly interested in drama. And saw its potential, also for improving your memory.

A simple technique

The technique is simple, and memorizing information in this manner really is a matter of visualization rather than anything else. Seeing things. And seeing does not involve any activity on the part of the observer. Seeing is simple.

But in terms of memory palaces, and mnemonic visualization, you need to treat your content/the information you want to learn in a particular way in order for it to stick.

There hasn’t been much scientific study on memory palaces, although some researchers, journalists and writers have written about it. In Russia in the 1920’s there was a particular interesting case of a person simplt called “S” (Solomon Veniaminovich Shereshevsky). A neuropsychologist called Alexander Luria studied the memory abilities of “S” in great detail, over many years, and also wrote quite a few books n the subject, including “The Mind of a Mnemonist”. One of the few, perhaps the only, books that scientifically studied the phenomenon of mnemonics.

One of the latest main stream books on the subject is “Moonwalking With Einstein”, which is an interesting read, although not very valuable for those wanting to actually learn the method.

Even though scientists and researchers have been mostly arrogant about studying the fantastic results of those who use memory palaces, and literature is sparse on the subject, the results from those using these techniques are crystal clear: our brains find it easy to remember spaces/rooms/locations, and objects in them. Attaching information to these objects using creative visualization can make anyone able to memorize volumes of information, without much work.

It all begins with a room

The most simple form of a memory palace is a room.

You can either use rooms that are completely made up by your imagination, or rooms that actually exist. The latter is the best in the beginning, even though we will explore virtual memory palaces as well.

To understand the technique better, let’s do some more experimenting. I’ve asked you to think about your house. Now, think about a room that you know well, perhaps the living-room or bedroom of this house. Close your eyes right now, and really “see” this room as you remember it.

Are you seeing your living room clearly? Perhaps you live in a one room apartment, in that case visualize this room. Notice that you don’t really need to put a lot of effort into it, do you, as the room you want to remember simply pops up in your head. What does it look like?

A mental walk through

Take a mental walk thorough of this one room, going from left to right. See particular places/locations in the room as well as furniture and objects that are placed within it.

Typical locations are corners, the floor, the center of the floor, the ceiling, the windowsill etc. Typical objects/furniture are sofas, TV sets, sound systems, book shelves, coffee tables, chairs, lamps, paintings, cases with flowers, musical instruments etc.

These objects, and also some pure locations like “the left hand corner” or “the windowsill”, will serve as “pegs” for you to hook information on later.

Look for pegs

Pay attention to the word peg. In normal life, a peg is, of course, something you can hang or place clothes and objects on. And pegs in a memory palace are there for us to hang information into it.

A peg, in our particular case, is a 1) location,2) object or 3) furniture that exists in a room of your memory palace. Simple as that.

The concept of a “memory palace” sounds grandiose and complicated, but this one room that you have been visualizing now can be a simple memory palace in itself. Just like that. Simply your living room. Or your bedroom. Although a typical memory palace consists of several rooms within a house.

The bigger the better, but small is OK

If you live in a great, big house with hundreds of rooms you have a very good basis for making a sensational memory palace. And when you start getting interested in memory palaces, you will actively seek out places that you can later use. Perhaps even a proper palace.

But any old house will do for now. So for now, think about the house where you currently live. The next thing you need to do is make a few decisions.

For each room of your house, you decide on which objects/furniture you will use as pegs. This is something you simply decide on at the beginning. These never change. Each peg is like a station/a bus stop, and as you mentally walk through the rooms of your house, you always walk around in the same sequence. This makes the journey through your house sequential.

Let me explain.

A set journey through each room

If, when going through the room left to right, the sofa is placed before the lamp, and then you get to the TV set and then the bookshelf, then this is the route you will always “walk through” your memory palace.

Things are placed exactly as they are placed in the real life room, and when using the memory palace you need to walk through these rooms in the same direction, left to right.

Clockwise.

By setting the direction, you will be able to memorize things in a sequence. Just as you know that the number five comes after four, and the number nine comes before ten, you know that going from left to right, your sofa comes before the lamp, and the bookshelf after the TV-set, as an example.

Naturally, as you move through the rooms of your house, all objects/pegs will pop up where they belong, in a fixed order. An order that you know instantly.

So, how do I memorize?

When you want to memorize something, you find a keyword. This keyword will trigger the information you want to memorize. Obviously you need a keyword that is easy to visualize, and then it’s simply a matter of hanging this keyword on the peg of your room.

Let’s say you want to memorize a shopping list (which is a boring, but ideal example to start out with) you then start at the first room of the house and walk through it peg by peg/object  by object, and associate each item from your shopping list with a peg from your memory palace.

You only need to do this once, but you need to really see these scenes. And you need to make the scenes absurd, exaggerated in size, violent if at all possible, funny, etc.

An example

Say you want to remember the keyword horse. You then need to “place” the image of a horse on a piece of furniture inside your memory palace. For example your bed. How? Simply close your eyes, imagine being in your bedroom, and imagine seeing your bed and that there is a great, big horse on top of it.

Simply see this image for a few seconds, and then let go. The fact that you placed a foreign object on your bed will help you remember the keyword.

And that’s all there is.

Remembering lists of information with the help of a memory palace means placing objects along the route of a walk-through of a particular room or house, hooking objects onto pre-determined “pegs” in the rooms of the house.

In theory, simply placing the “foreign” objects on your pegs will help. But as we have seen with creative mnemonic visualization, the more absurd you can make the association between peg and object, the better.

Your own house/home

Hannibal Lector had a particular interest for art objects and antique furniture. This helped him build a huge memory palace. The fantastic thing about Lector was that he built his palace from his imagination. In the beginning, we will only use hoses, rooms and objects that we know from real life. Things we can easily visualize.

And when you start making your first memory palace in just a little while, you will simply use the house you currently live in, its rooms and objects, as they are.

No, you will not use all the objects that you find in the rooms of your house, but choose some of them. These objects will serve as pegs. And it is to these pegs you can attach information you want to remember.

It’s a matter of looking

To continue for a moment with Hannibal Lector, beforehand he had delegated all the rooms in his house to various subjects. Let’s say he wanted to remember some fact about an Italian painter, for example, well then he mentally went into one of the rooms of his house dedicated to Italian painters, and simply had a look around. He saw the pegs, and this triggered the information that he had memorized earlier.

Just as an example, let’s say you wanted to memorize 20 important Italian painters, and stick some kind of information to them. You could then decide to devote a certain room of your house to this task, let’s say your living room. You would then associate 20 pegs of your living room with images or substitute images (we will get back to this) of the Italian painters in question, together with other types of information that you want to remember, like year of birth, main works, style etc. Whenever you need to retrieve that information, you simply “visit” your living room in your minds eye.

Two aspects to the technique

As you can see there are two aspects to these techniques. First you need to come up with the memory palaces you wish to use, and decide on which objects to use for each room.

Then there is the actual memorization, which we call creative mnemonic visualization. This is all about “filling” your memory palaces with information.

If you want to store some information permanently, you should devote one or more memory palaces to this, and keep other memory palaces free for “on the spot” memorization. My suggestion is that you come up with between ten to fifteen memory palaces. This will give you freedom both to store plenty of information long term, and also being able to have “free” memory space available for on the spot memorization. Don’t worry about this right now, because I will show you step by step what you need to do.

Examples of permanent storage could be geographical facts, important books and text books, important facts for you to remember etc. And examples of “on the spot” information would be an interesting book or an article that you just read, card games, memory tricks, speeches, certain books or textbooks, particular chapters for exams  etc.

The other aspect of the technique is that you need to translate keywords into easily imaginable images that you may attach to your pegs. Some keywords are easier to visualize than others, but even the difficult ones are most of the time fully manageable. The trick is simply to come up with substitute images. As we will see shortly.

As mentioned, in a few hours from now you will already have ten complete memory palaces to work on. Just be a little patient, and do pay attention…because we will take this step by step.

Short Recap

So…a memory palace is your mental image of a house you know, with rooms that contain furniture/objects/locations that serve as “pegs” for you to store information.

There is no limit to how many memory palaces you can have, as your brain loves these types of memories.

A good starting point is using the house you currently live in.

Sit down and have a go at visualizing what your house looks like. Then walk through the house and see what you got right, and what you missed.

[]Chapter four: No need to be a genius, just make it absurd

We don’t know why memory palaces work, but it most likely has to do with our deeply needed ability to orient ourselves in our environment as a matter of urgency. Our ancestors from tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of years ago needed to hunt animals in order to survive.

And this had to do with orienting oneself in the terrain. Remembering places of interest. Judging distances. This relationship between our eyes and our brains/memory is certainly an important one. .

Our brain loves absurd, strange, funny things

And in addition to loving spaces/locations and objects placed in spaces/locations, our brains are particularly fond of things that are not logical. And this is one really important piece of advice for making the association between pegs in your palace, and the objects representing your keywords.

Our brains, or rather our memory (as we do not really know what memory is), loves absurd, surreal things. This could be a simple, misplaced object, like a horse on your bed, or it could be a really absurd image that would never appear in real life.

In practical, mnemonic life, the more absurd you make the associations between peg and keyword, the better. This may seem strange, but if you stop for a minute and think about it you will see that it makes sense not to make sense.

It could be all about getting noticed.

And things that are out of the ordinary are more noticeable.

Situations that are funny, extreme or absurd are easier to remember. As we have mentioned, violent and sexually explicit images are also great. As is exaggerating the size of objects, seeing animation rather than static images, and placing oneself in the scenes in order to get sensory impressions.

So when you, in a short while, start placing information in your memory palaces, I will remind you to create small, elaborate scenes that are absurd, funny, exaggerated in size, violent or sexual etc. This is what will make you remember.

An example of creative visualization

Let’s say that you are imagining standing in your living room looking at your sofa, which is part of your memory palace.

You want to remember the word “fish”. The way to associate or link this information to that particular peg of your memory palace, is to make an absurd or unusual connection/image that combines fish and sofa. Any absurd connection between that sofa and some image of a fish.

Perhaps you imagine that your sofa is made out of fish.

Now, this is something you most likely have never seen. Even so your brain can “see” it if you let it. Just imagine the image. Your sofa, made out of fish.

See how you sit down on your sofa, and feel the slimy fish as you do it. Maybe the fish are alive? See how they are wriggling and struggling. All of them sewn together on the surface of the sofa.

Absurd? Yes. That is why you will remember it.

Note, too, that you are introducing your own sensory input to the scene. You are sitting down on the sofa, perhaps touching it with your hand, and then feeling a slimy fish. This will really help you remember something. In fact, the more “real” you make the absurd image, the better it will stick.

Another trick is to exaggerate the size of the objects. So, with this image, make the fish big. Perhaps so big that they manage to chew off a part of your bum as you sit down on them.

See what I mean? Make it absurd, vivid, exaggerated, eye catching, place yourself in the scene and “feel” what it feels like.

It only takes a few seconds

Most people, when they first learn the method, thinks that these types of visualization will necessarily take a long time.

But the truth is that they don’t. Perhaps it will take a little extra effort in the beginning. But after a while…mere seconds. If that.

The world record of memorizing a deck of cards is around 43 seconds, and this exact method was used. So in other words, with training, these visualizations need not take a long time.

The image of your sofa being made of fish, and you sitting down of them takes only a few seconds to make. With training, less. But you will remember it for a very long time. It will be glued to your memory. This is the fundamental secret of memory palaces. Making your images vivid, absurd and eye catching.

Hannibal Lector used a completely imaginary memory palace, made from scratch, using his imagination only. You will base your first memory palace on the house you currently live in.

You don’t need to be a genius

In addition to Hannibal Lector, we have seen some examples from television and literature where memory palaces are shown to be fascinating, mental constructs, devised and used by eccentric geniuses. But in real life, however, the basic concept of a memory palace is much simpler. And even boring, middle-aged nobodies can make them!

The great thing about memory palaces, is that you don’t have to be a genius in order to use them. Although the results are equally fantastic.

Recap

Your brain remembers your rooms and spaces quite easily. No effort needed. And the more absurd you make the connections, the more easily your brain will remember.

It helps, also, to add sensory data, like your own reaction to how it feels to touch certain objects, for example the sofa that was made out of fish.

Exaggerating the sizes of objects also helps remembering them.

[]Chapter five: Your first memory palace

You may be living in a small, studio apartment with only one or two rooms. You may live in a bigger house with 4, 5, 6 rooms, or you may be living in a huge house with dozens of rooms.

But in any case you are good to go forward with whatever size house you have.

Later in the book you will see how to use other locations for your memory palace collection, so do not worry even if you feel that your first memory palace is too small.

The walk through

As mentioned, an important thing about memory palaces is that we want to create a certain route for mentally walking through the house. This route is the sequence of pegs. The most natural thing to do is to start with the front door and then walk through each room of the house as it is laid out.

In fact, we will start on the outside of your front door. This may bring some additional details. If you live in an apartment building, you could start outside your apartment building in order to gain a few extra locations/pegs.

Without knowing what your house looks like, let’s just assume that we begin this first memory palace outside the front door of a house. Let’s, once more, do a simple walk through of your house, without deciding on any pegs…simply having a look.

The front door

Close your eyes and imagine the front door of your home. See the details on it. The color, the texture, things hanging on it. See and feel the door handle. The front door is your first peg. If you have an object hanging on your door this could be another peg.

Open the door.

What do you see? Do you enter an entry hall, or do you come straight into your living room? In case of a hall, what does it look like? Which objects are placed there? And which one could be used as pegs?

Let me give an example from one of my memory palaces.

My entrance hall has a small table with a drawer. On top of the table is a vase of flowers. There’s a large mirror on the wall. On the top of the mirror hangs a Catholic rosary of the saint “Santo Expedito”.

So in my case I have five pegs already, including the front door. Five pegs where I can later place information that I want to remember.

As you probably understand, the more objects/furniture/places…pegs…you have, the more information you can store. But be careful. Too much clutter is not good. The larger the objects are, in general, the better. And the more space the objects have around them, the better. ‘

Particularly in the beginning.

So don’t try to fit too many objects into your memory palace even though the actual room you’re in contains these things. Later on you may “re-decorate” your memory palace, or add pegs, so there’s no need to worry about storage issues right now.

In which direction are you walking?

After the entry hall, you enter where? The living room? Which objects are there? Start having a walk around the room, but remember to always walk around rooms in the same direction. It could be left to right, which is clockwise, or right to left. I would suggest left to right, but you decide. Whatever you decide, just stick to it.

Always walk around rooms of your memory palaces in the same direction.

What does your living room look like? See which furniture you have there. Don’t invent anything, But use the furniture and objects that are already there.

As mentioned, focus on big objects like sofas, chairs, tables, lamps, bookshelves, television sets etc.

Objects that are permanently placed in the room.

Right now, as we just mentally walk through the rooms of your house, you can note all objects that you remember/see. But going forward, in order to make permanent pegs, choose just a selection of objects that are permanently placed in the room.

At the moment we are simply walking mentally through rooms, but still, keep this in mind.

Other rooms

Which other rooms do you have in connection to your living room? Perhaps a bathroom? A kitchen. Keep “walking” through your house. When entering a new room, always walk around the room in your set direction, left to right.

In the kitchen there are typically many good potential pegs. The sink, an oven, a microwave oven, a refrigerator, shelves, a table, a lamp hanging from ceiling etc.

Walk around all the rooms of your house like this.

In the bathroom there are also many potential pegs. The sink, the shower box, the bath tub etc. In the shower you have several possible pegs. The shower head itself. The floor. Maybe a shelf where you have shampoos and soaps? Continue like this throughout your house.

A sample house walk through

In a little while you will decide on all the pegs in your room, and note them down. But to help you understand better I will show you a sample walk through of a house that is “configured” as a memory palace with appropriate objects. This is just an example so that you can understand the method.

Here’s my example:

The front door of the house I’m visualizing now, has a sign with a cartoon character on it. This can be used as a peg, as well as the door handle. The door itself can be used to make images/scenes, so right at the entrance we have three pegs.

Entrance hall: Table, mirror, on the top of the mirror hangs a catholic rosary (necklace), painting, shelf for clothes on top, wardrobe underneath for hanging coats and jackets. Space for shoes underneath. Right here in the entrance hall there are in this case, seven pegs. So the front door and entrance hall alone offer ten pegs.

Once inside, there is a living room. There I find a sofa, rug underneath sofa, table with vase, television shelf with a book/DVD-shelf below, television on top. Chair, painting, bookshelf, on top of bookshelf an African figure, ceiling has a lamp hanging from it. On the sofa I like to put the image of one of my dogs relaxing, a peg that works well.

The bookshelf is divided into three pegs. The top of the bookshelf, the bookshelf itself and the lower part of the bookshelf, which has some larger books. The top of the bookshelf is divided into two parts: the top of the bookshelf on the left, which is empty, and the right, which has an African, carved wooden figure. So right there in this small living room I have 14 pegs. And this is a small living room.

Then there’s a bedroom, with a door, a chair, a hi fi system, a wardrobe, a bed table, a lamp, a bed, a painting, a rosary of Saint George, some photos. The wardrobe is big, and I have two pegs there – one inside the wardrobe, the other on top. Oh, and the ceiling has a fan. Twelve pegs in total.

There’s a bathroom, with a door, a toilet, a small rug, a shelf for storing toilet paper rolls, a sink, a mirror, a medicine cabinet, a lamp, a shower box and a shelf for cosmetics like soap and shampoo,. In the bathroom I divide the shower into three pegs, the shower head, the floor space and the shelf for cosmetics. The toilet I divide into two pegs: toilet seat, and the actual tank that contains the water. So the bathroom offers 12 pegs.

Until now I already have 45 pegs. Almost a deck of cards. And remember, this is a very small memory palace, based on a small apartment.

Finally there’s a kitchen with (no door) painting (a still life of a table with fruits, bread, cheeses and wine), sink, shelves above sink, workbench with toaster, espresso machine and juicer, refrigerator, oven, micro oven, window, ceiling with fan. All in all eleven pegs. Just outside the kitchen, in a hallway, there is a window.

Note, too, that I could use locations in the room as pegs, as well. In the living room I could use two corners, in the bedroom one corner, and in the kitchen another corner. Sometimes using corners or other spots that are not marked by an object, can be challenging. Try for yourself and see if it works for you.

All in all, 57 pegs in one, small, 40 square meter apartment.

Have a go

Have a mental walk through of the house/apartment where you currently live. Note that you may also use outdoor spaces in connection to your house, like a garage, a garden, backyard, verandas etc. You may also use the top of your house as a peg, perhaps you have a chimney there. If you have a cellar, of course, this is completely workable, too.

Take your time and decide which objects and furniture you would like to use as pegs. Do not use all objects that are in the room, but try to use objects that are somewhat separate in distance, or at least, clearly different objects. Write all the pegs down in a notebook, numbered, as they appear going through your house, like this:

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p<>{color:#000;}. Front door

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p<>{color:#000;}. Poster with character

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p<>{color:#000;}. Door handle

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p<>{color:#000;}. Table

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p<>{color:#000;}. Mirror

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p<>{color:#000;}. Rosary

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p<>{color:#000;}. Painting

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shelf

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p<>{color:#000;}. Wardrobe

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shoes

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sofa

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p<>{color:#000;}. Rug

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p<>{color:#000;}. Table

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p<>{color:#000;}. Vase

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p<>{color:#000;}. TV

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p<>{color:#000;}. DVD

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p<>{color:#000;}. Chair

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p<>{color:#000;}. Painting

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p<>{color:#000;}. Bookshelf

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p<>{color:#000;}. Top part of bookshelf

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p<>{color:#000;}. African figure

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p<>{color:#000;}. Bedroom door

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p<>{color:#000;}. Chair

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p<>{color:#000;}. Hi Fi system

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p<>{color:#000;}. Wardrobe upper

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p<>{color:#000;}. Wardrobe center

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p<>{color:#000;}. Bed table

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p<>{color:#000;}. Lamp

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p<>{color:#000;}. Bed

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p<>{color:#000;}. Painting

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p<>{color:#000;}. Rosary St. George

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p<>{color:#000;}. Photos

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p<>{color:#000;}. Ceiling fan

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p<>{color:#000;}. Bathroom door

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p<>{color:#000;}. Toilet seat

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p<>{color:#000;}. Toilet back

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p<>{color:#000;}. Rug

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shelf

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sink

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p<>{color:#000;}. Mirror

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p<>{color:#000;}. Medicine cabinet

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p<>{color:#000;}. Lamp

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shower box

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shower floor

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shelf

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p<>{color:#000;}. Painting

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sink

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p<>{color:#000;}. Shelves

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p<>{color:#000;}. Toaster

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p<>{color:#000;}. Espresso machine

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p<>{color:#000;}. Juicer

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p<>{color:#000;}. Refrigerator

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p<>{color:#000;}. Oven

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p<>{color:#000;}. Micro wave

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p<>{color:#000;}. Window

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p<>{color:#000;}. Ceiling fan

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p<>{color:#000;}. Window

You do not need to memorize the pegs to the numbers, but simply write down the ayout of your own house in this manner, in order to use as a reference later. Then move on to the next chapter.

[]Lesson six: Memory areas, memory walks and memory journeys

You have now had a good, mental look at the house/apartment where you currently live, and decided on which pegs to use. So this house will serve as your first memory palace.

Be sure to have a notebook dedicated to your memory palaces

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to write down in a notebook all the pegs of your house, and in which order they are. You now have one memory palace. Congratulations! When you start practicing you will get more and more familiar with this method. Later on in these two books, I will help you find and construct nine more memory palaces, but for now, let’s move on.

And let’s begin to see how this method can be easily expanded. For although you probably know many houses and buildings that can serve as memory palaces, we could do with some alternatives.

Let’s go for a walk

Another name for the “memory palace method” is “the journey method”. In Latin locations are called “loci” so the method is also called “method of loci”.

In the previous lessons we have been talking about the simplest forms of memory palaces. The absolute simplest form of a memory palace is a room, and if you work with the actual house/apartment/space you live in, you will then have a somewhat more complex memory palace that can typically room from 20 to 50 pegs up to hundreds of pegs if you live in a larger house.

So in terms of memory palaces you now have the tools to construct a memory palace of your own house (in addition to any other house, for that matter). The objects and furniture that occupy your house, will be pegs. Together with locations in the room.

We will get back to memory palaces in form of houses and buildings, but let’s just have a look at another valuable aspect of memory palaces.

The walk, or the journey.

Journeys/memory walks

Do you walk to your job? In that case you may use the journey from your house to your job as a “memory journey”, or, memory palace. Memory palace does not need to be a building.

In case you drive to work, you can also use the drive to work as a memory palace, if you have a clear image of this road and possible pegs along the route.

Let’s begin with walks.

If you do not normally walk to your job, try remembering other walks that you do. Do you have a dog? You can use the route that you walk as a memory journey. In case you don’t have a dog, use any walking route that you know well. And if you do not know any route well, start taking a few walks in your neighborhood and get some references.

Also, if you do not walk a lot, have a walk around your neighborhood and start thinking about how you can construct a memory walk or two, or three, around your neighborhood.

Example

I have several memory walks that I can access easily. One of them is simply walking along the street I live, and doing a general tour of my neighborhood. Just walking from one end of my street and to the end of it, I have managed to cram in around 70 pegs.

Once you start thinking about these things, and once you actually start walking a little bit, you soon realize that just in the area where you live there are probably several routes that you can easily use.

By placing your house in the center, you can probably think of at least think two distinct routes. And if your house lies in a dead end, simply look for routes a little further away.

Using neighbors

One of the great things about using your neighborhood, is that many of us can add our neighbors to the route, making it both easier, richer and more potent. In addition to spaces and places, our brains particularly like people. And we remember them well.

I know that many people live in neighborhoods where they do not even know their next door neighbor, let alone the rest of the building or street. And many also live in large cities, where the “neighborhood” is mostly shops and commercial buildings. We will talk about streets with shops in a while, as this works equally well, so in case you do not live on a street with neighbors, don’t worry. Although you might be able to recall the street where you grew up…maybe that could give you some ideas?

Memory palaces can be from the past, too, if only you have a clear memory it.

Memory areas

In a way, thinking about memory palaces it can be useful now to think of memory areas. Let me explain.

I have two main, memory areas.

The first one is the house I grew up in, and memory walks around that area. The second one is the house where I currently live, and walks/journeys around this area.

Thinking about memory palaces in this way can boost the number of palaces you can think of. Make it easier to both come up with ideas for palaces, as well as remembering them later.

Two or more pegs per house

In the memory area where I currently live, I do not know that many of my neighbors. In the memory area of the house I grew up in, though, I can add faces to just about every house on the street.

So note that when I visualize the houses of my old neighbors, I have two pegs for each house. One for the entrance to the house, and one for the house itself. To help things I place people associated with that house on different pegs. With some training and effort I would be able to even distinguish more pegs for each house, maybe adding certain elements from the garden etc.

Sequences

The great thing about memory walks and journeys, is that they are particularly optimized for sequences. Any memory palace should be configured sequentially so that you know exactly where you start the walk through, and exactly the order of the pegs. Which way you mentally walk through the rooms, and exactly which order the pegs are in. But with a walk, this sequence is somewhat self evident.

There is a natural element of sequence that is undeniable.

The great thing about using walks/journeys as well as houses/buildings is that you can quite easily make a pretty big compilation of memory palaces. Let’s face it, there is a limit to how many houses you know well. And even how many houses you could access in order to get better acquainted with.

But walks? Limitless.

Not many books on memory palaces talk about walks and journeys, but I suggest you make them a main focus.

Easy to find new memory palaces

In case you need a new memory palace one time, simply start walking a new route for fun. Just a few real life walk throughs where you make note of possible pegs, and you will pretty quickly be able to visualize the walk with your eyes closed.

A good idea is to use a camera to take snaps of the route you use. This makes it easier to remember a new walk. After a short while it should be perfectly committed to memory, even if the walk is new for you.

These days most of us have great cameras on our mobile phones. A great tool for anyone working with memory palaces.

A collection of walks

To give you an idea of the memorizing potential here, I currently work actively with 18 walks. Half of them are from the town where I used to live fifteen years ago. The place I grew up, and that I know well.

I also have many walks are from where I currently live, including one that I take every day walking my dogs in the morning, another that I take in the evening, a third one of the neighborhood as such, plus two other walks going to the city centre, and within the city where I live.

Altogether, these walks give me around 1000 memory pegs. And if I combine the walks (which I sometimes do), I can stitch all these walks together to one long walk in one unbroken sequence.

Imagine the possibility.

Imagination

It doesn’t matter that one walk is in one town in on continent, and that the other walk is 13000 kilometers away. Distance is no problem for our memory.

Combined with other techniques, I can actually memorize up to about 3000 items on these routes, for example 3000 playing cards in sequence. About 57 decks of card. I never yet tried to memorize 57 decks of cards in practice, so I do not yet know if this is practically possible without any type of interference, but I am planning to do it just to test it out.

Journeys

Walks is one thing. You can also make memory palaces of journeys done in cars or buses. You just need to make sure that you really remember the sequence of the pegs.

The pegs in this case are places of interest along the route. Houses, buildings, cities etc. I personally have a memory palace of the road between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. A journey of about 500 km that I know well. The journey could be short or long, the important thing is that the pegs you choose appear cleary to you, and in the right sequence.

Using memory palaces based on journeys are interesting, but make sure you keep your pegs big and memorable (like a city, a gas station, a particular house, a particular forest that suddenly pops up, a lake etc), and make sure you only use journeys that you know well.

Recap

In this chapter we have seen that you can use walks/journeys as well as houses and buildings in order to create memory palaces. Most people can almost immediately recall at least one or two walks. And with a little work, you can easily find three to five walks/journeys in your neighborhood. If you drive a lot, you can probably think of a journey, as well. The goal is to end up with a certain amount of houses/buildings in addition to walks/journeys, and then expand as you need.

You probably already have several ideas of what can serve as specific inspiration for memory palaces and memory routes/walks. The house/apartment where you currently live is your starting point. The house where you grew up (if different from where you live now), another.

Right there, you have two specific memory areas. From the houses in these two memory areas, explore different walks. Walks from your house to your workplace, for example, or any other destination – a walk you know well, another.

Same with car or bus journeys.

If you cannot easily remember any walks, have a look in your neighborhood and simply decide on one or two walks. Take snapshots with your camera in order to more easily memorize the route.

If you drive, or take the bus a lot, think of at least one memory palace based on journeys as well.

Walk through these routes, and pay attention to objects/locations you may use as pegs along the route. Next time you pass then, take photos. Note everything down in your memory palace notebook.

[]Chapter seven: Basic tips and tricks

We mentioned the area where you work, let’s just also mention streets that do not have homes, but rather shops or commercial buildings.

Streets with shops are great.

And if you just start thinking, right now, about a particular area where there are a number of shops, businesses, restaurants, cafes etc, I am sure you get several ideas.

A building in itself is not necessarily easy to remember, unless there is something extra about it, or that you know it well. But using streets with shops really helps your memory, as shops have logos, often bright colors, particular associations according to what shops they are (bakery, butcher, coffee shop, book store, electronics store etc).

So choose a street in your town/city, and decide to use it. If you don’t know it well, have a walk through it next time you’re there and take photos with you mobile phone or any other camera.

Even a small, short street may have a great number of shops. Most of them quite distinguishable from the other.

The next few steps

The thing you should do now is decide on your first few memory palaces. We have already more than suggested that you should choose the house where you currently live, and perhaps also the house you grew up in.

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p<>{color:#000;}. The house you currently live in

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The house you grew up in

This would be a perfect start, as you then have two distinct memory areas.

If you currently live in the house you also grew up in, or if you cannot remember well the house you grew up in, think about a second house that you know particularly well, and then one or two walks that you could use, even if they are not connected to the neighborhood that second house is located in.

As mentioned, if you normally do not walk a lot, try to find a walk close to where you live, or anywhere that you can access easily, and start walking around, snapping a few photos with your mobile phone or any camera for reference.

Two houses, and two walks would be ideal for now. But before you actually start thinking about this, let’s just move a little on and have a look at pegs.

Choosing objects in rooms

In terms of memory palaces based on your home, pay particular attention to objects and furniture. You need to decide on which ones to use.

Keep in mind that you do not choose too many objects for each room when using houses as models for memory palaces, and always choose objects that are clearly differentiated from one another. This last point often translates into distance. Use objects that a clearly distanced apart. This is all very individual, and depends on your view on things, but be aware of the potential problem of using small objects, or object that are too close together.

When it comes to sequence, decide on a route through the house, and every time you mentally walk through your memory palace, walk in the same direction. The objects/pegs should always show up in the same sequences.

It may be obvious, but I repeat, that you need to choose only objects that are permanently placed in your rooms. Avoid things like ashtrays, cups, books unless they are permanently placed in one spot.

Normally, larger objects are easier to visualize, but not necessarily. Remember the catholic rosaries I mentioned in my own, personal example? Well they are based on particular saints that are well known in the country where I live, so even though the items themselves are small I simply use images of the saints themselves in order to link the peg to the keyword. Each saint is really a perfect mnemonic in itself, clearly distinguished from others.

Paintings and photos are great

When it comes to paintings and photos, same thing applies. If you have a painting or a photo of a location; a cabin placed near a river, for example. You could perfectly well “jump” into the painting itself and use both a location near the cabin, in the river etc as pegs. This is not necessarily something you would do straight away being a beginner, but it is possible, and really workable.

In this way you may actually build small “virtual” memory palaces inside your memory palaces. If your painting is of a person, you could simply visualize this person as well as visualizing the painting itself.

Let me give an example.

Let’s say you have a reproduction of the “Mona Lisa” on your wall. All framed into a nice golden frame. OK, you are going to make an association between your keyword and the peg (which is the painting). Let’s say your keyword is “car”. You could make a link where you see a car coming out of the painting on your wall, or a car placed under the painting and someone smashing the painting over the car. But…you could also use the image of Mona Lisa and combine it with a car. You could see Mona Lisa step out of the painting and into the car, for instance.

These things also depend on the keyword you need to remember. If in doubt, just stick to the first idea that pops into your head, which is often the best one.

Special objects

Some objects are better than others. A bathtub, for instance, is perfect for making links. Just imagine all sorts of things you can soak into the tub, for instance. Ovens are good, fireplaces, too. A piano or a musical instrument. Refrigerators and freezers. As mentioned, if you have pets, you could include them in case they have a particular place they normally hang out. So, you see, not everything needs to be 100% correct 100% of the time.

You can, and should, use your creative license. Rest assured that most objects work, and remember that it is the way you associate object and keyword that ultimately matters. Making the image absurd, exaggerated in size, violent, etc.

Specific examples for memory walks

When it comes to what we call memory walks or memory routes, note that you may be a bit more creative. Let’s say you are passing a house where you very often see a certain person outside, well, place this person there permanently in your mind and simply interact with him when memorizing.

As an example, let’s say that you have placed one of your neighbors outside the house where he lives. OK, you then want to place the keyword “Henry the eighth” (ex king of England) in that position of your memory walk. All you need to do is make an association between an image you have of Henry the eighth, and your neighbor. Maybe the ex-king is bashing your neighbor with his crown, or stabbing him with a sword. Or maybe your neighbor is reversely beating the king. Violence is always great for remembering.

You may also use people you don’t know, of course, in fact just thinking about a particular location inside your walk should give you some suggestions of what you associate with the place. Just make sure you make all pegs inside the walk set definitely once and for all.

For this reason, you need to write down each and every location/peg that you have in your memory palaces and memory walks.

Here’s what you need to do

Take an hour or so. If you haven’t already done so, decide on two memory palaces based on houses, and two based on walks/journeys.

Write down all pegs of these memory palaces in your notebook.

[]Chapter eight: Managing your different memory palaces

For what may you use memory palaces?

The short answer is: any kind of information you want. Both information that you want to store short-time only, like keywords from an article, notes for a certain exam, a book you’re reading, or things that you want to store long-term, like chapters of a textbook on a topic that you’re studying.

Short term and long term palaces

What I recommend, and what we will work on later, is that you construct/decide on at least around two to five memory palaces based on houses, and six to eight memory palaces based on walks or journeys you know. Which will give you a total of ten to thirteen memory palaces.

Some of these you can use for long-term information, the rest you can keep free for things that you need to memorize “on the spur of the moment”.

Tips for memory palaces

Let’s have a look at which other places other than your current home you may use as a basis for your memory palaces.

After your current home, the best house to base a memory palace on is the house you grew up in as a child and teenager. For most people: our parent’s house.

Most people have a very clear idea of the layout of their childhood home even though they may not have sat foot there for years, or even decades. The brain really works well remembering spaces and places, so do have a think about the house you grew up in, and see if how many details you manage to come up with in each room.

You should be very successful in remembering your childhood home, so by this stage you already have two houses to make memory palaces of.

Which other houses may serve as candidates? Well, any house you know pretty well, any house that you currently spend time in or have in your childhood spent time in.

Houses from the past: Grandparents house, the houses of aunts, uncles or other family members or childhood friends. Once you start thinking just a little about these things you will be amazed how many details appear.

Also, public buildings may be used, of course. Schools you have gone to, or other public buildings you remember well. Places you used to work. Parks etc, shopping centers.

Houses from the present: Friends houses, houses of family and relatives. Public buildings you know well, schools, universities, train stations, hospitals, airports, concert halls etc. Your workplace. Public parks or gardens that you visit often.  Shopping malls/shopping centers.

After brainstorming houses for a minute or two, you will certainly be able to come up with at least three houses to use in addition to the two you already have (which are your current home and your childhood home). So by the end of this lesson you could have at least five houses in total. Whether you want to go ahead and “configure” them straight away, by deciding on pegs, is up to you.

More ideas for walks

When it comes to walks, you should be able to get two or three walks in the area where you currently live, and, either, two or three walks from the neighborhood you grew up in or (if that is a too distant memory) from other areas you know (like one walk from within a town/city centre, and one walk close to your workplace). You could also use car or bus journeys.

A total of five walks and/or journeys at this point would be ideal. Remember, you don’t need to sit down and configure all of them right now, just decide on them.

Other ideas are: parks, walks from neighborhoods where you have lived before, additional streets with shops from cities/towns you know, mountain trails etc. If you need to get out of the house and start walking, do spend some time doing this. And pay attention to details. Take snapshots with your mobile phone/camera.

Assignment

Your assignment will be to sit down and try to set down your list of five memory palaces based on houses, and five based on walks. First simply decide on these 10 memory palaces. Write them down in your notebook.

Then, sit down for a few minutes and visualize these locations for, rooms, objects and all. As much as you can remember.

Later we will decide on which specific tags/objects to use for each palace, and write them down in order to set them once and for all. But before you go ahead and do that, let us just cover a few more tips on memory palaces.

Decide on uses

As mentioned, I suggest you use the different memory palaces for different things. You really need to look at your specific needs at the moment.

If you’re a student, you may want to assign a different subject (textbook and lecture notes) for each house. But make sure you leave one house “free” for sudden memorization needs.

If some of your memory palaces have a great many rooms on several floors, you may assign a floor for each subject, for example. A specific idea here is to start hunting public buildings. Do you have any large public buildings in your area/town? Buildings you may start familiarizing yourself with? Even a few days of “lurking” around these buildings may give you solid memory palaces.

[]Chapter nine: More about keywords

In order to memorize information, we need to make keywords out of the information we wish to memorize, and these keywords need to be translated into images. Then these images need to be associated with pegs from your memory palace.

Let’s take a few examples.

A shopping list is one of the simplest ones, as all items on a shopping list are easy to visualize. Oranges, milk cartons, eggs, bananas etc. are all straightforward objects that anyone can easily see.

But what if the keywords you want to remember are more abstract?

Substitute images

Well, then you need to make what I call substitute images. You may think this is complicated, but you will be surprised how little your brain really needs in order to make the “missing links”.

Some of the more abstract words you face are foreign language words. Take the Japanese word shinbun for example. The word means newspaper. If you were to memorize the word shinbun, you would have to make up a substitute image.

The thing is then to deconstruct the abstract word somewhat, and try to come up with an easy visualized, English word that somehow matches. And you are not looking for exact deconstruction here.

Completely abstract words

For the example shinbun I immediately think about “chin” and “buns”. Buns, as in the baked goods you can eat, and chin as in part of your face. Let’s say you want to attach the word shinbun to the peg “sofa”. Imagine a sofa that is stitched together with pieces of human chins, and that you rip them from the sofa and eat them “like a bun”. A little violent, perhaps, but this is all good for memorization. Or simply imagine a giant human chin being the sofa. You decide. Stick with what works the best.

Perhaps this sounds complicated, or maybe even stupid and far fetched, but this visualization will work like a charm. Shinbun is “chin buns”, and they belong to the sofa.

Somewhat abstract words

While some words are completely impossible to make into images without deconstructing them, others just need a little help. Names are a typical example.

In talking about names, you can of course use images of people you know with the same name. So if you need to visualize a “John”, you could see before your mind’s eye someone you know called John.

In the same example you could also use a famous person that you associate with “John”, for example John F. Kennedy. Just make sure you are not using his image in another visualization that could interfere.

Now, take the surname “Kennedy”. Once again, you could use the image of John F. Kennedy, as long as you make a mental note of the fact that you are thinking about Kennedy’s surname, and not his first name.

Far fetched

But if you need an image for Kennedy, you may also use any other image that spring to your mind when thinking about “Kennedy”. My first thought is the “Kennedy Space Center”, seeing a rocket being launched into space in a whirlwind of fumes and flames. So if I wanted to make a visualization linking “Kennedy” to a peg, say my TV-set, I would see a rocket take off from that TV set, making a complete mess of the living room.

This absurd scene will work like a dream. Someone without experience with these methods would perhaps say “but won’t you get mixed up and think that the image is a rocket?”, but the truth is that if you simply think “Kennedy Space Center” or “Kennedy” as you make the visualization, you will be fine.

Your brain is a very flexible instrument.

Representational images

Let’s just have a look at another type of words or phrases you might encounter. They are words and/or phrases that are not necessarily abstract, but still need a substitute image that has nothing to do with the pronunciation of the word or anything like that, because the link has more to do with how this image “represents” the word or phrase.

It is what I call representational images.

Representational images are images or scenes that represent word or a phrase that you are trying to memorize. The words are not abstract in themselves, but still need substitute images.

Let’s take an example from history books. Let’s say you are memorizing pre-second world war, North American history and need to memorize the keyword “new deal”. Well…these two words are not abstract, but still…how do you visualize them?

You need a representation. You could, for example, use the image of a card-dealer, dealing out a new round of cards, a new deal. You could imagine a young, “new” car salesman selling a car, he just made a “new deal”…or any other type of representational image that will have you remember the keyword.

Another example

The word depression, also from the history books, is much easier, as you can simply imagine someone showing him-or herself to be depressed in some manner, maybe by popping pills, or by sitting on the floor refusing to do anything because of “depression”. You could also go for a completely absurd image/representation, of someone being literally pressed down by some giant machine, saying “help, I am being (de)pressed”, or anything similar. The crazier, the better. Often the more logical alternatives are the ones you fail to remember.

Substitute-image, representational images…at the end of the day these words stand for the same thing, but representational images have no phonetic similarity.

The easy way of putting this is: whenever you have a keyword that is not easily visualized, come up with any image that is mildly connected, and in most cases this will work well.

[]Chapter ten: A sample memory palace walk through

I will here show you one of my memory palaces, which takes place in a small apartment I once lived in. I show you this not for you to copy it, which would be absurd – as you need to use something from your own memory. But simply to give you a specific example of how this method works at its simplest.

So let me first take you on a tour of this memory palace, which is my memory palace number five. Then we will fill the palace with some information.

The tour

Tour: The front door (peg #1) is of aluminum and contains glass, it has a small placard with the cartoon character Bert Simpson (peg #2) and a door handle (peg #3).

I open the door and enter the small entrance hall.

Where there’s a table (peg#4), mirror (peg #5), on the top of the mirror hangs a catholic necklace (peg #6), a painting of a bulldog (peg #7), shelf for clothes on top (peg #8), wardrobe underneath for hanging coats and jackets (peg #9). Space for shoes underneath (peg #10). Right here in the entrance hall there are in this case, seven pegs. So the front door and entrance hall alone offer ten pegs.

Going into the living room, to the left is a sofa (peg #11) on the sofa I have placed one of my dogs (peg #12), there’s a table in front of the sofa (peg #13) and a vase with flowers on top (peg #14). Underneath the sofa and the table is a rug (peg #15). To the left of the sofa is a TV (peg #16) and it stands on a DVD-shelf (peg #17). Going around the room from left to right, next up is a chair (peg #18) and behind it is a painting of a woman dancing (peg #19). Then there’s a bookshelf (peg #20) and on top of the shelf a wooden figure (peg #21). I also use the other side of the top of the bookshelf as a peg (peg #22). There’s a lamp hanging from the ceiling, going over the table (peg #23), seeing as I am up on the book shelf, I decided to put the lamp in after the book shelf, not together with the table.

Then there’s the bedroom, with its door (peg # 24). Right left of it stands a chair (peg #25) and a hi-fi system next to it (peg #26). Then there’s a wardrobe where the inside is used (peg #27) and the top of the wardrobe (peg #28). Then, the bed table (peg # 29) with a drawer, the bed (peg #30) and a painting of a mountain over the bed (peg #31). On the wall also hangs a religious necklace of Saint George (peg #32) and three photos of my dogs (peg #33). On the ceiling there is a fan (peg # 34).

The bathroom is next, with a door (peg #35), a toilet seat (peg #36) and the tank that serves as a back for the seat (peg #37), a small rug on the floor (peg #38), a shelf (peg #39) a sink (peg # 40) a mirror (peg # 41) a medicine cabinet next to it (peg #42), a lamp on the wall (peg #43), the shower box seen from the floor (peg #44) and the shower head (peg #45) and a shelf for soap and cosmetics (peg #46).

Finally the small kitchen with (no door) a painting (peg #47) with a still life motive of a watermelon as the main element, sink (peg #48), shelves above sink (peg #49), workbench with toaster (peg #50), espresso machine (peg #51) and juicer (peg #52), refrigerator (peg #53), oven (peg #54), micro oven (peg #55), small window (peg #56), ceiling with fan (peg #57). All in all eleven pegs. Just outside the kitchen, in a hallway, there is a large window (peg #58).

There you are. That is my example for you, for one of my memory palaces. A small apartment I used to live in.

Filling a house with information

Now, let’s give you an example of filling this room with information. I know that most books and articles on memory palaces always uses the same example: grocery lists. And I will, too, just because it is so much easier at first.

Later on we will use other examples.

So, here’s a grocery list of 15 objects just to exemplify the method.

Butter, Milk, Chocolate, Ham, Cheese, Eggs, Espresso pods, Bread, Tomatoes, Salad dressing, Coca Cola, Wine, Washing powder, Shampoo and Newspaper.

Now, let’s fill the memory palace with these 15 objects. I will list the first 15 pegs of the palace of the example. And yes, you may think I m going into too much detail, but if you feel you already know the method, simply move on. This is just to help people really understand the method by seeing it in action.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Door

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Bart Simpson sign

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Door handle

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Table

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Mirror

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Catholic necklace (rosary)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Painting of bulldog

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Shelf

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Wardrobe

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Shoes

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Sofa

#
p<>{color:#000;}. My dog

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Coffee table

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Vase with flowers

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Rug

Example of how the associations are done.

First off is the door, and the item to remember is butter. I see my front door, and it is yellow and completely made out of butter (a completely n absurd image). I touch it, and feel the greasy butter (sensory experience, placing oneself in image). I take some butter and put it in my mouth just to check…yes, the door is made of butter.

The second peg for me is a sign of Bart Simpson and in this example I need to pair it with milk. I see a full figure Bart Simpson hanging on the door, completely soaked in milk (eye catching, absurd). He complains loudly in his typical voice, saying “what the ****, I’m completely soaked in milk” (adding details). In fact, I see myself taking up a carton of milk and pouring over him (putting myself in scene, adding “animation”)..

Chocolate and door handle. I try to forget about the door of butter, Bart Simpson soaked in milk, and go for the door handle (making a “film” scene instead of a static image), which is huge (exaggeration of size), and made of delicious chocolate. I break it off and eat it (sensory experience), yes…it is made of chocolate. I enter the room.

In front of me is a small table, and I place a huge pig on top (exaggeration of size, absurdity), going for a knife in order to cut out a piece of ham (violence, animation), I see myself cutting out the ham while the pig is screaming (poor pig…).

The mirror above is made of cheese, in fact blue cheese (making it specific) and I use the same knife to cut off a piece, and place it in my mouth (sensory experience) and taste the distinctive taste of blue cheese.

The rosary I need to associate with eggs, so I see a very big, long rosary hanging on top of the cheese-mirror, only that the beads are made of eggs…big eggs (exaggeration of size). I drop the rosary on the floor and the eggs break, turning the floor into a virtual pool of eggs. I try to walk, but fall, and feel the eggs all over my body.

On the wall jumps out a bulldog, and bites me in my leg saying (absurd) “I want my espresso pods”, and I see him spitting out empty espresso pods. I kick him away (violence), he starts crying. I continue my journey through the house, looking to the left and slightly up, where I see the hat shelf, which is made out of French baguettes (bread). Just to be sure I break off a piece of bread, and as I do I see the French baker in his blue-stripes shirt and typical hat, talking in a French accent saying “do you like the bread I made). Under the shelf I see coat hangers where there are no coats, only tomatoes. Really big, ripe tomatoes, hanging from them. I take one tomato with both my hands (it’s so big) and eat it. On the floor I see a whole pile of shoes. They are all stinky, and they are all marked with salad dressing labels. I see a huge plate of salad, take a big, stinky shoe, and pour dressing over it.

I move on to the living room, and to my left is my sofa which has disappeared under a mountain of Coca Cola cans. I jump onto the sofa, and feel the cans on my my body.  I take one can to check the taste, yes, it’s Coca Cola. On the end of my sofa lies my dog, and he’s got his snout stuck in a huge wine bottle. The dog is drunk as he drunk the wine, so he falls down onto the coffee table, which has a pile of washing powder on it. He falls into the washing powder, and starts sneezing. The vase of flowers on the table does not have flowers in it, but shampoo. I take the shampoo and pour over my dog’s head, telling him: “Now, we only need some water in order to wash your fur”. I see the rug under the table, and it is a huge newspaper, and I clearly see some articles on it, and lie down to read more.

Explanation

There you are. This is the method of how you come up with keywords, and how you associate keywords to the peg of your memory palace in practice.

You probably think that it looks complicated and time consuming. But it is not. It takes time writing and reading about it, but making these associations/visualizations took only a few minutes. And this shopping list will be glued to my mind without me needing to endlessly repeat it. Note that I try to make 1) a story, that plays out like 2) a film. The story-element helps bind the objects together, and brings some sort of logic to it.

Now, it’s your turn. And it’s really important that you do this right now. Take the small grocery list, and start memorizing it. Place the grocery list inside your first memory palace, which is the house where you currently live.

If you haven’t already decided on pegs and a route through your first memory palace, go back and do this now. Remember that you need to decide on all pegs in the house, and each time you walk through the house you need to walk through the pegs in that same sequence.

[]Chapter eleven: Troubleshooting the technique

You have had a go at memorizing your first list in your first memory palace. Congratulations. I hope you are impressed with the results, although you also probably experienced a few associations (keyword to peg) that didn’t go very well. When this happens, simply go back and try to figure out why. Was the visualization too ordinary? Add some absurdity. Or did you simply not really see it before your inner eye?

Troubleshooting is important, so let’s have a more thorough look at the technique, some problematic areas and learn a few tips that may streamline the process.

Recap

Before anything else I just want to briefly recap what we have learned and hopefully achieved so far.

A memory palace is an imaginary construction based on a house or a walk/journey that you know from real life. Each palace consists of many pegs that you can later hook informational items onto. The way you “hook” information onto pegs is by creative association/visualization making sure the scenes/images you create are 1) absurd, 2) exaggerated in size, 3) violent, 4) has sensory details, 5) involves movement, 6) involves people (we remember faces and people better) and possibly also 7) are sexual in nature.

Your first main goal is to configure your first memory palace, which should be the house/apartment you currently live in. Then, you should decide on 4 other houses and 5 walks that may serve as memory palaces. Write them all down in a notebook.

Next step is to configure all these 10 memory palaces. Then, you should start practicing visualization/memorization. Start with the grocery list, then have a look at the other examples in later lessons (book two).

Troubleshooting

Using creative associations in order to link keywords to pegs you will see that the only times you will not remember the scenes is when you either did not actually see the scene before your inner eye, or because the scene was not absurd/eye catching enough.

As mentioned a few times, the main rules for making memorable scenes are the following:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make scenes absurd

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make some objects exaggerated in size

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make scenes violent whenever possible

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Put yourself in the scene, and “feel” sensory details from it

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Include movement whenever possible

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Place people in scenes

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make scenes sexual whenever possible

The first rule should always be observed. It is the most important. You will not remember a scene that is not out of the ordinary or absurd. A sofa made out of fish (as was one of our examples) is a typical example. This is absurd, and therefore great. If you were to imagine simply a small fish lying on the sofa, you would probably not have good results remembering the image.

Note, also, how you always should try to expand on the image.

How? You place yourself in the scene, sitting down on the sofa, on top of the fish. The fish themselves are exaggerated in size. They are moving (so we include movement), and you feel what it’s like sitting down on the fish, so you include a sensory perspective.

As you probably understand you don’t need to use all rules/tricks at all times. They are just there to help you.

With practice this all becomes instinctive, so the main tip is just to practice. When in doubt use the above checklist.

Really seeing the scenes

Some may think that it’s difficult to visualize things. Again, this is mostly a matter of training. Most people are able to see what their house looks like, and even imagine what things that do not exist looks like (like a sofa made out of fish).

If you have trouble visualizing, simply take more time. Try to close your eyes, although after a while you will be able to do this even with your eyes open.

Remember, you will only remember the scene if you really see it, so if you have problems visualizing, you should slow down, and take your time. One trick with this is to go back to your first memory palace (of your own house), and have a mental walk through really taking your time. Try to see all the objects that are there, and ask yourself questions: which color does this object have? What’s the texture like? Etc.

In your mind, place an imaginary spotlight in the room, in order to light things up. Or bring with you a torchlight. Small tricks that might help.

[][][] Chapter twelve: Recap, and tips on going forward with this knowledge

One of the things people worry about is coming up with good keywords and substitute images. Because, as you know, the things you want to remember, passages of text or smaller bits of information, need to be condensed into keywords. These keywords need to be “translated”, or rather made into, a suitable image. But what it the keywords are somewhat difficult to translate into any good image?

Don’t worry, farfetched often succeeds

First of all, realize that you have great liberty, as it were, in making these images. Practice will show you that farfetched images easily triggers your chosen keywords, that again triggers the information.

The more practice you have, the more you will see that in most cases coming up with good images for keywords will not be a problem. Your memory will help you in interpreting the information.

What to do next?

At this point you have all the information needed in order to set up at least ten memory palaces, and start practicing the technique either using the examples you will find in book number two, or your own examples.

In the next book in this two-set series we will go further into the technique. You will learn the PAO-system, and see how you can memorize playing cards within the memory palace system. We will also have a look at virtual memory palaces, and how you can make one from scratch.

BOOK TWO

 

Chapter one: Memorizing playing cards and learning the PAO-system

Chapter two: Presidential practice

Chapter three: Shakespearian practice

Chapter four: The secret of joining your memory palaces together

Chapter five: Long term storage palaces

Chapter six: Memorizing speeches

Chapter seven: Memorizing text books

Chapter eight: Memory palaces and learning languages

Chapter nine: Learning how to conceive and build a virtual memory palace

Chapter ten: How to use apps and software to boost your work

Chapter eleven: Summary, and plan for going forward


Mnemonic Memory Palace Book One

"How to Build Mnemonics Memory Palaces" (a two book set) is a no-nonsense, practical guide on how to conceive and build memory palaces, and exactly how to feed them with information that you want to memorize. The book is full of examples, making it easier to understand. In the book you will get the answer to many questions, including the following: What is a memory palace? How do you build your first couple of memory palaces. Unlike other popular books on the subject, like "Moonwalking with Einstein", the book "How to Build a Mnemonic Memory Palace" focuses on practical, hands on advice. Information that will get you started making your own memory palaces from day one. This volume, book one, explains the fundamental technique of creative mnemonic visualization, and how to configure memory palaces. Memory palaces are an ancient, yet somehow forgotten, method of memorizing all kinds of information. Before the printing press was invented, content was passed on verbally from person to person. And using the Greek tradition of memory palaces, scholars could store vast amounts of information. These techniques have seen an increased interest lately, and many people who have been inspired by memory palaces from TV-series like "Sherlock" or books like "Hannibal", want to find a way to easily get started making memory palaces. "How to Build a Mnemonic Memory Palace" literally takes you by the hand and walks you through the process, step by step.

  • Author: Sjur Midttun
  • Published: 2016-06-05 21:20:09
  • Words: 17469
Mnemonic Memory Palace Book One Mnemonic Memory Palace Book One