I have to say it feels a little odd not to be extending my memory palace today : it really has become a bit of a way of life! It makes me giggle that when I check my bag for work, the list of essentials goes something like this now : phone, keys, diary, periodic table of elements 😛 .
For today’s adventure, I’m going to say a heartfelt thank you to Josh Foer (he was the guy in the TED talk on day 1 of my memory palace adventure). The message of thanks isn’t just for the inspiration, it’s also for the additional benefits of the technique : a genuine appreciation of the power of the human mind and a new sense of presence , a renewed sense aliveness to the world around me and within me.
I’ve tweeted a big “TY” and here’s short “thank you” video too :
Yesterday I managed to recall the first 103 elements of the periodic table . You can watch me in action here 🙂 . Today is the big day, I’m going for the full 118!
Throughout my memory place adventures, I’ve been having strange dreams. Some of them involved me watching the elements being projected onto a kind of mind screen. The most interesting of them involved me wandering through a complex labyrinth and making my way into a central cave. This cave was like a central “dream projection booth”. The cave had many portal-like windows and through the windows I could see a multitude of dreams going on simultaneously. I could step into each dream and observe it as a lucid dreamer before selecting the dream that I’d like to slide into.
This dream left me with a real sense of “mind space” and possibility. It left me with a tangible sense of the vastness of my own mind. Over the week, I’ve grown to marvel at the capability of the human mind and I’ve had a sense of discovering a doorway to an infinite space. The memory palace experience has really changed my mind about my own mind – the idea of “cramming” memories in just doesn’t seem to fit anymore 😛 . There seems to be a vast amount of space to record everything we need ~ and in the actual experience of recalling, that place of memory seems to exist way beyond my own head.
So, here’s me giving it a whirl. I’ve spent around 3 minutes a day for the last 9 days building this palace. In other words, this memory feat has taken under 30 minutes! If you’d like to try this technique for yourself, you can learn more about it here . For me this hasn’t just been about memory, it’s been about presence. The more immersed I am in learning, the easier it is to remember. The more immersed I am, the more alive I feel … the more alive the whole world looks – even the periodic table 🙂 .
Today I add a further 15 elements, bringing me up to 90 elements of the periodic table from memory! As I get more skilful at using the memory palace technique, I am now noticing some of the finer distinctions :
1. I am using peripheral vision automatically. You’ll notice that my eyes are defocused : as soon as I bring my eyes back into foveal vision, I lose my connection with the memory palace. If you’re wondering about the significance of peripheral vision, it’s this : this is a natural “flow state”, opening the flow between the conscious and unconscious mind. This state is also referred to as the “alpha state”.
2. I have split awareness : I am “organising” the tour of the palace and taking part in the tour at the same time.
You’ll notice that, at one point, I lose my connection with the memory palace as my focus shifts back to the “here and now”. In my mind’s eye, I am stepping out into my garden : at this point, I become consciously aware that I am actually in my garden. I have to dissociate from my actual garden and associate with my memory palace garden in order to continue. Can you see where this shift happens in today’s video?
I’ve been away with work for the past couple of days, so this post is a wee “catch-up” on all my memory palace news! I’ve spent 2-3 minutes every day for the last 6 days building and extending a memory palace for the purpose of memorising the periodic table of elements.
You can see what happened on Day 3 here , on Day 4 here and on Day 5 here 🙂 .
Over the course of the last 6 days, I’ve spent about 20 minutes in total building my palace and (so far!) there seems to be very little effort required in terms of “committing” anything to memory. If you want to try this technique, my top tips would be :
1. Know the layout of your palace inside-out (I’m using my own house).
2. Create exceptionally memorable images.
3. Be fully present while you are decorating your palace (I actually think that this is the key to this whole technique!)
I am really getting the hang of this whole memory palace thing ~ I’m genuinely shocked at how easy it is to remember things and how rapidly things can be memorised! It seems that all you need is sufficient imagination to create a memorable enough picture.
Today I learned the next 13 elements on the periodic table and put that learning together with yesterday’s. In the video you’ll see me recite the first 23 elements of the table and you might notice something really interesting. If you know anything about NLP eye accessing, you might expect my eyes to move so that they can go and “look for” what I’m remembering. When I watched the video back, I was very surprised that my eyes didn’t move at all : they seem to be staring ahead.
I am pretty certain that this is to do with the spatial memory aspect of this technique. That is, the rooms in my home are so familiar to me (and I’m anchoring images to places in rooms in my home) that I do not need to go and look for the place which holds the information. How cool is that? It’s a really “quick access”.
As my eyes are staring straight ahead, I am just seeing all the locations in my house in the order in which I anchored images. It’s like a conveyor belt of elements!
I am out of circulation for the next couple of days but I’ll still be recording videos and I’ll bring you up-to-date with my memory palace on Saturday. Over the coming days, I’ll be gradually increasing the number of new elements I learn : this could get exciting 🙂 .