Obsession of the Week : Memory Palaces

So here’s where my geeky side comes out. Oops. Sorry I’m not sorry. If you don’t like it, turn away. Recently, I’ve started going through noticeable phases in my obsessions. They don’t always last very long, but last week it was Rubik’s Cubes and how to solve them (yes, I did it, in case you’re wondering. I can solve any 3×3 cube in under 30 mins now. That’s kind of slow compared to many, but I just gave myself a week, so I can’t really expect much) and this week it’s Memory Palaces. In case you’re wondering, this is just a trick that can drastically improve your memory.

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Of course, I got this idea from Sherlock (the Season 3 finale episode goes into somewhat of detail about it) and I just had to see what it was all about. And then I became obsessed. As usual. (It’s never moderation with me, it’s always I’m absolutely infatuated or I really couldn’t care less *sighs dramatically*)

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So anyway, being the weirdo I am, I decided to share with the world the exact extent of my geekiness and tell you all about Memory Palaces (and how to make one, if you’re interested – so that we can go be psychos together, doesn’t that sound like fun?)

First of all, the thing I started off with was this video of Joshua Foer on TED. In case you don’t have time to go through the whole video, let me try and condense it for you as fast and simply as possible. Basically, the idea of a memory ‘palace’ has been around for thousands of years – the Greeks used it to remember long speeches – entire books, even! Back then, they didn’t have smartphones and, as such, they needed to remember things without aids.

So basically how this works is that you have to choose a place in your mind that you’re very familiar with – like your home or school or office or whatever. Any place that you know like the back of your hand. A place that you’re intimately familiar with – the sounds, smells and look of that place should be firmly embedded effortlessly in your mind. 

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Say, for example you take your own house. Plan out an exact route you’re going to take around your home. Lets say you start with your door and step into your foyer or hallway or whatever. Your shoe rack follows, then the kitchen, the living room, the master bedroom, the basement, your room, and so on. Map out the exact route you’re going to be mentally taking and firmly plant it in your head. Try not to deviate much.

Then take a list of things you want to remember – like a grocery list and try to place these things in your memory palace. Let’s say, for example, you need to remember to get some carrots, cottage cheese and a new screwdriver (I don’t know, Im just being random here). Now instead of just placing these things in your memory palace, you need to make them memorable – so that they’ll stick in your head.

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For instance, you can imagine two giant carrots, dressed in tutus playing the trumpet and opening your doors for you with your neighbours pointing and laughing. Now that’s hard to forget. Next, imagine as soon as you get in, you smell a rotten stinking stench of cheese way past it’s expiry date and when you look on your coffee table, you see Miley Cyrus licking a hammer. You can probably see where I’m going with this – the more whacky and crazy – the more likely you are to remember it.

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And that’s basically how it goes. The more you practise the better you get at it. You can put tonnes of information in your palace and in fact, you can have several palaces. There’s this Tumblr post I found that was really helpful that you could check out by clicking here. Hope you guys loved testing this out as much as I did!

Stay beautiful!

Deliya x 🙂

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