Aloha, Sisters of Strength!
Please think of these upcoming series of posts as a toolkit to come back to for prompts with memorization, rapid learning, creativity, and productivity.
I believe if we're not growing, we're dying. Our minds atrophy the same as our muscles.
It's actually been proven that when you combine learning with exercise, that information gets cemented within you easier and becomes available for faster recall. This is why I love educating myself on walks or lifts with podcasts, Audible or The Great Courses.
These are the tools, tips and hacks that work for me. We're all different but hopefully you'll find some useful nuggets to make your own.
Forget you not.
Did you know many professional, competitive memory masters use walking, visual journeys, or both as a way to lock information permanently to memory.
I still struggle with a bit of short term recall after my brain injury. I find myself fishing for words in conversation when I have a clear image in my mind of what it is I want to articulate.
For example, it's like seeing a picture of someone's young son in my mind and wanting to say "boy" but not being able to find the word to match the image.
Here's one memorization hack I've used to help with these brain farts (my own self-diagnosis).
It's called The Journey Method.
This will help you recall a short shopping list or the phone book -- remember those?
THE JOURNEY METHOD
This is a technique I learned from eight-time world memory champion Dominic O'Brien. The Journey Method incorporates the three building blocks of memory:
- location (the journey part)
When beginning to brain train, choose a familiar location for a short walk such as your neighborhood for now. You'll use landmarks along this brief journey to "store" items on the list you want to memorize. Say it's your to-do list.
Remember, you can use this to memorize anything -- historical figures, numbers, foreign words, faces-to-names, birthdays, anything.
Visualize your route and the stops/landmarks along the way.
Using my neighborhood, for example, it looks like this:
- I head out the front door
- I go through the creaky gate
- I pass the giant redwood tree
- I turn right towards the cliffs
- I dead-end at the ocean (this is my halfway mark)
- I turn left and keep walking past the vacation rental house with Birds of Paradise flowers in their yard.
- I reach the "Path Closed Due to Landslide" fence
- I move towards the artist's house with a giant seashell stork sculpture in front
- I turn towards home, passing Pearl the barking poodle's house.
- I arrive at my wisteria-covered mailbox.
Remember to use what's familiar to you. The route must make sense and be in order. I wouldn't leap immediately from my front door to a place two blocks away. O'Brien suggests thinking of your route as a guide rope that easily leads you in an order that makes sense.
Close your eyes and visualize all ten logical stops along your route.
Use all your senses. Are there street signs, familiar cars parked, interesting yard landscapes, sounds of animals or construction, smells of flora and fauna, an afternoon breeze? Eyesores? Imagine you are floating along your route taking it all in with all the senses.
Note your halfway mark. For me, this is the ocean. Once you know your route forward, visualize the route backward. If this is difficult, create a journey through the rooms of your house with the same logical flow. For example, don't leap from your basement to the roof. Take the route that would logically get you there.
Now, let's take a look at the 10 to-do's on our list and start placing them along the 10 stops of our walk.
|1. Call the chiropractor||6. Do Swedish reading lesson|
|2. Take pants to tailor||7. Batch prep chicken in fridge|
|3. Buy nuts for Stymie the Squirrel||8. Thank you notes for birthday gifts|
|4. Write program for 1:1 client||9. Write tomorrow's workout|
|5. Going away gift for Jen||10. Meditate|
Bears repeating here. The three building blocks of memory are:
- location (the journey part)
The immediate goal isn't to memorize the 10 list of to-do's.
O'Brien teaches that with the Journey Method, memory isn't about tests of memory but a "...demonstration of imagination and association combined with location."
All you need to do:
- Create a mental picture of each item on your to-do list and visualize it at each stop along your easily recalled route. This is where using your imagination comes into play. When we combine left brain logic with right brain imagination and creativity, our minds will solidify the information easier and for longer.
- How to help your imagination: use sounds, action, colors, comedy (no censorship allowed here-- the more absurd the better), and extremism. Incorporate all your senses. Nobody needs to know what your weirdo self is conjuring.
- My first to-do on the list above is to call the chiropractor. The first stop on my walk is the front door.
- I visualize a loud cell phone ringing at my front door. Annoyed, I swing the front door open to find my chiropractor talking loudly on her phone.
- Call Chiropractor
- #2. Go through creaky gate. I move past the front door and my vociferous chiropractor on her phone towards the creaky gate. My second to-do item is to take my pants to the tailor. I position myself at the creaky gate that's a tetanus shot waiting to happen.
- I imagine myself going through the creaky gate, my pants get caught on its splintered wood and rip.
- Take my pants to the tailor
- #3. Pass the giant redwood tree. I imagine myself walking past the redwood tree in my ripped pants that need tailoring.
- Ouch! Empty walnut shells rain down like bullets on me from the redwood branches. I look up and there's Stymie the Squirrel, emaciated, yelling, "Bitch! I'm hungry!" Remember, the more absurd, the easier to remember.
- Buy nuts for Stymie the Squirrel
- #4. Head towards the cliffs. Create this scene in your head: As I walk towards the cliffs rubbing the walnut shell bruises on my skull, I see a private client slogging along, red-faced, gasping for breath on a run in an effort to "lose weight."
- The faster she tries to run along the cliffs, the wider her waist expands until she balloons into a sweaty Stay Puff marshmallow man.
- Write nutrition and training program for 1:1 client.
- #5. (HALFWAY POINT) Dead-end at the ocean. Here's the scene. I look out over the frothy, barreling waves of the Pacific ocean and see my friend, Jen, headed towards the horizon in a blinged out yacht.
- Jen's on the deck dancing with rap video ladies drinking champagne and waving good bye to me. I'm shocked she's drinking because she's so pregnant she's going to pop.
- Buy Jen a going away gift.
Now you get the idea of how this works. Create visceral scenes at each stop using vivid detail and all the absurdity you wish.
Re-read the five scenes on my journey described above. Then, close your eyes and visualize the walk with each scenario and correlated action item. I bet you'll be able to recall many or possibly all of them.
To really exercise your brain, recall the steps and action items backwards. When you've mastered that, recall them out of order.
For example, if I asked you what the third thing on my to-do list is, you may recall that at first, my chiro was yammering on her cell at my front door, then I ripped my pants on the gate. Next, Stymie the Squirrel was looking starved, yelling obscenities, and throwing empty walnut shells at me from high up in the redwood tree. Yep, the third thing on my list is buy the squirrel some nuts.
Do this on your own with short lists that you visualize first with scenes like we just did. Then, go on that short walk for real and "place" each item you want to remember at your stops, visualizing those scenes. You'll be able to recall them quickly for a very long time!
Next week I'll give you some rapid learning tools I've learned that are great for languages or information you want to absorb quickly.