The Memory HOWTO

- Version 1.0.1 -

Jamin Philip Gray

December 20, 1999 - December 23, 1999

everythingified by kaatunut

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor am I a memory expert. I do not guarantee any of the methods in this document. I am simply an individual who, as a hobby, trains his memory, and would like to share the methods I have learned in the hope that the reader may benefit from them. I also do not claim to be an exceptional writer. I welcome any corrections to this document, suggestions for modifications or additions, and general comments. It should be noted that this is a work-in-progress.

  1. Introduction and General Tips

If you are like most people, you complain about how poor your memory is. Whether it be getting home from the grocery store and realizing you forgot one important item out of only four that you were supposed to get, or studying for hours for an exam and then drawing a blank when the pencil hits the paper, or forgetting a phone number, or meeting someone at a social gathering and five seconds after shaking his hand you forget his name. But somehow he remembers yours. How embarrassing! Regardless of how awful you think your memory is, it can be improved. In fact, it can be exceptional. However, it won't happen overnight. Memory training requires time, dedication, effort, and interest. Some of the techniques I will share with you will have an immediate positive effect, others will require more time and effort, but the rewards are even greater when you master them.

The primary keys to developing a better memory are interest, attention and observation, concentration, and repetition. Let's look at each one in turn.

Without interest, there is no desire to learn or remember what you learn. The things you remember best tend to be the things you are most interested in. Have you ever met someone who had an incredible capacity for remembering, say science facts, but when it came to geography couldn't recall the capital of his own state? This doesn't mean he is stupid. It probably means he has no interest in geography and hasn't taken the time to thoroughly learn the subject, and what he has learned he forgot quickly because of a lack of interest in retaining the information.

Attention and observation allow you access to more information and thus increase the scope of what you can recall. If you are listening to a speech and wish to recall all of the main points but aren't giving your full attention to the speaker, chances are you will fail at your endeavor. Likewise, if you wish to recall what your friend was wearing at the party last weekend, but have poor observational skills, the memory is probably weak at best and will be difficult or impossible to recall.

All of the exercises in this document require concentration, and the more the better. It is best to not do these exercises on a full stomach, as it is an impediment to concentration. Study in an environment that most enhances your concentration. For me, this varies. Sometimes I like to study in a quiet place with little or no distractions. Other times, a noisy pub or coffee shop is ideal. Do whatever works best for you.

Finally, if you want to memorize something long-term, you will have a much better chance of success if you repeat it and study it regularly. The techniques I will teach you will help you memorize things faster and recall them better later, but you will likely still need to review the things you memorize on a regular basis until they become so ingrained in your long-term memory that you will likely never forget them. That is the goal.

  1. Association

Association is the key to just about everything in this document and for good reason. We automatically store and recall memories through associations. One memory will remind you of another. Sometimes we are aware of the associations taking place. Perhaps a song will remind you of a specific person, place, or event in your life. If you're old enough, try this one: Where were you when you first heard that JFK was shot? Can you remember the details? Whom were you with? What did the place look like? How did it make you feel?

Learning to make natural associations stronger and to form artificial associations when needed is the heart of the memory training techniques in this document.

  1. The Link

The first artificial association technique I'll teach you is one of the ones that will give you practically immediate results, and can be applied to just about anything you want to remember. It is called "linking" and is very simple. You associate two images by connecting them visually in a manner that will be easy to recall at a later time. You can recall long lists of these images by chaining the links together. i.e. link the first item to the second, the second to the third, the third to the fourth, etc. This may sound a bit confusing, so I'll demonstrate exactly what I'm talking about. Let's suppose you need to do some shopping. You have five items to purchase at the grocery store. They are:

  1. eggs

  2. milk

  3. bread

  4. chicken

  5. mountain dew

Now visualize the first item on the list. To facilitate recall make the images larger-than-life, funny, grotesque, or just plain strange. So when you're picturing eggs, don't just picture a regular carton of a dozen eggs. Make it different. The first thing that comes to my mind is giant walking eggs. So I picture a grocery store in my mind's eye. Running full-speed down the aisle are a bunch of giant walking eggs! Now it's time to link the first item with the second. The giant walking eggs are running too fast to stop and they crash into a wall filled with glass bottles of milk. The reason I picture glass bottles is so that when the eggs crash into the bottles, the bottles fall to the ground breaking into a thousand pieces, milk and glass flying everywhere. Now to link the second item to the third. Get the first item out of the picture. Try to keep only two items in your picture at any given time. So now all you're concerned with is linking milk to bread. After the jars are broken, I picture the milk flowing like a river down the aisle towards the bread. The bread looks so delicious. It's freshly baked, golden and crusty. Mmmmmmmm! The river of milk crashes into the freshly baked, golden and crusty bread making it soggy and nasty. It's so soggy that it all falls to the floor forming a big pile of mushy, soggy dough. Along walks a noisy chicken. It steps in the soggy pile of bread and gets stuck. It starts squawking loudly as it tries to escape. Hearing the cries from the noisy chicken, someone tosses the chicken an ice-cold mountain dew thinking that will shut it up. The chicken grabs the ice-cold mountain dew and starts gulping it down.

This process may seem very strange and perhaps a bit difficult, but with practice it will become second nature. When you want to remember a list of items, you'll find that you can link them quickly and imaginatively. Perhaps you aren't convinced that this actually works. Why don't you try it right now? I'll give you a list of ten items. Your task is to memorize them in order using the method of linking. Remember to make your images and links vivid. Both are important factors. If each image is incredibly vivid and easy to recall, but your links are weak and difficult to recall, you've got a weak chain and will have difficulty recalling the entire list. Okay, here are your ten items:

  1. hat

  2. hen

  3. ham

  4. hare

  5. hill

  6. shoe

  7. cow

  8. hive

  9. ape

  10. woods

Linking the items together is almost like creating a story. I'll briefly summarize the story as I see it. A black top-hat rests on the ground. A hen jumps out of the hat and walks to the right where it finds a big ham. It pecks on the ham and causes it to roll to the right. The ham rolls into a sleeping hare which wakes and darts off, charging down a hill. Now all I see is the hill until a giant shoe drops from the sky landing on the hill. The shoe slides down the hill and hits a cow which is at the bottom of the hill minding it's own business. Startled, the cow darts off and runs into a beehive, knocking it into an ape. The ape is quite upset and so it charges off into the nearby woods for cover.

There really is no right or wrong way of doing this. Whatever works for you. Try creating your own story or use mine if that helps. After creating your links, review it and see if you can recall the entire story. Then without looking at this document see if you can write down the ten items from the story on a piece of paper. You might just be amazed at how easy it is to recall them. If you do have trouble, don't despair. Go back and review the items and visualize the links. Note the weak points in your chain and strengthen them by making them more vivid. You'll get better and faster at this with practice.

The method of linking is ideal for remembering ordered lists of any sort: grocery lists, lists of things to do, books you want to read, the major points in a speech, the presidents of the united states, the states in alphabetical order, and so on. I'll give more examples later on and show you how to use linking to do amazing things with your memory. The possibilities are endless.

The ten items you memorized earlier were not chosen randomly. They have a specific purpose which you will learn about later. But first it is time to really amaze yourself. Think you can remember 100 items in order? Give it a try. You don't have to memorize these all at once. If you're busy, break it into chunks. Try 25 today. Then add to your story tomorrow by linking the next 25. Or if you're feeling as daring as I did tackle them all right now. However, no matter what time-frame you choose to work in, the end result should be the same. You'll have 100 items linked together in order. Spend some time making the links and images vivid since these are an important 100 items. You'll likely use these again and again in your life. I memorized this same list over nine years ago and still use it. Here is the list (the first 10 should look familiar):

  1. hat
  2. hen
  3. ham
  4. hare
  5. hill
  6. shoe
  7. cow
  8. hive
  9. ape
  10. woods
  11. tide
  12. tin
  13. team
  14. tire
  15. hotel
  16. dish
  17. dog
  18. dove
  19. tub
  20. nose
  21. window
  22. nun
  23. gnome
  24. Nero
  25. nail
  26. hinge
  27. ink
  28. knife
  29. knob
  30. moose
  31. mud
  32. moon
  33. mummy
  34. hammer
  35. mule
  36. match
  37. hammock
  38. muff
  39. mop
  40. rose
  41. rat
  42. rain
  43. ram
  44. warrior
  45. rail
  46. roach
  47. rake
  48. roof
  49. rope
  50. lace
  51. light
  52. lion
  53. lime
  54. lawyer
  55. lilly
  56. lodge
  57. lake
  58. loaf
  59. lap
  60. cheese
  61. sheet
  62. chain
  63. jam
  64. chair
  65. jail
  66. judge
  67. check
  68. chief
  69. ship
  70. goose
  71. kite
  72. can
  73. comb
  74. car
  75. coal
  76. cage
  77. cake
  78. cuff
  79. cab
  80. vase
  81. foot
  82. fan
  83. foam
  84. fire
  85. file
  86. fish
  87. fig
  88. fife
  89. fob
  90. bus
  91. boat
  92. piano
  93. bomb
  94. bear
  95. bell
  96. bush
  97. bag
  98. beef
  99. pipe
  100. daisies

Once you have the list of 100 items memorized, give yourself a pat on the back, but don't stop there. There is so much you can do with this list. To insure that these 100 items stay with you for years to come, review them on a regular basis, going through your "story" in your mind, writing down each item. Then check the chart above and see if you wrote the entire list without mistakes. Now let's learn what you can do with these 100 items.

  1. The Phonetic Alphabet and The Peg

What I am about to teach you takes a bit of time to learn and to become proficient at but is arguably the most useful of all the techniques discussed here. The Phonetic Alphabet is a method for converting numbers into objects that can be easily visualized. Initially we'll use it to recall any of your 100 objects by number, but as you'll see later it can be used for many other purposes including remembering long-digit numbers, dates, addresses, phone numbers, playing cards, and the like.

I'm going to give you 10 consonant sounds for each of the digits 0 - 9. Along with each I'll give you a helpful way to remember the sound. With time you won't need the hints, but they will assist you initially in quickly memorizing the code. Here it is:

  • 0. Z or S (first sound of the word "zero")

  • 1. T or D (the letter T has 1 down-stroke)

  • 2. N (n has 2 down-strokes)

  • 3. M (m has 3 down-strokes)

  • 4. R (final sound of the word "four" is R)

  • 5. L (roman numeral for 50 is L)

  • 6. J, sh, ch, or soft g (the letter J turned around is similar to a 6 [J 6])

  • 7. K, hard c, or hard g (the letter K looks like two horizontal 7's put together)

  • 8. F or V (a cursive f has two loops like an 8)

  • 9. P or B (the number 9 turned around looks like a P)

None of the vowels have any meaning at all, nor do the letters W, H, or Y (think of the word WHY). Memorize this list, keeping in mind that it isn't the letters that are important, it is the sounds. For example 'kn' in the word "knife" would translate as a 2 because it has the N sound. Here is an exercise that you can use many times throughout the day to learn this list thoroughly so that it becomes second nature to you. Whenever you see a number, take each digit and convert it to it's respective sounds. For example if you run across the phone number 453-3498, you'd convert it to (R)-(L)-(M)-(M)-(R)-(P or B)-(F or V). And practice going backwards. Take words and convert them to numbers. The word "chicken" becomes 672. "Matter" becomes 314. "Document" becomes 17321. If you are having trouble seeing this, look at the words in this form:

CHicKeN MaTteR DoCuMeN T

6 7 2 3 1 4 1 7 3 2 1

If you haven't noticed it already, the 100 items you memorized follow the phonetic alphabet code. Look back at the list. The 89th item is FoB. The 73rd item is CoMb. The 2nd item is heN. Now I want you to practice something. I'm going to give you a number. See if you can recall what item it corresponds to (no cheating, trust your memory and the phonetic alphabet!). Here's your first number: 47. Think of the sounds in that number. You have an R and a K or hard G. Put the sounds together. Did you come up with RaKe? Try it with a few others:






With practice you will be able to recall instantly the corresponding item when you think of a number from 1 to 100. This isn't just a fun game, this has enormous impact on what you can do now.

Think of each of your 100 items as a peg (to hang something on) or a cubbyhole (to put something in). They are storage devices. And now you have random access to any of the 100 storage devices. Allow me to demonstrate. Let's memorize a list of 10 items. Instead of simply linking the ten items together as we did with the grocery list, we're going to place each one on a peg. Here are the 10 items:

  1. gods

  2. idol

  3. name

  4. church

  5. parents

  6. kill

  7. adultery

  8. rob

  9. lie

  10. covet

You probably immediately figured out that these are keywords that represent each of the 10 commandments (Exodus 20 for your reference). Now let's place each of them on a peg. The first one is "gods." We want to associate that with "hat" which is our first peg. Use whatever association strikes your fancy. I'm picturing Zeus, Aphrodite, Cupid, and others descending from heaven. And guess what? They're all wearing silly top-hats. For the second I picture a hen bowing down in front of an idol. Note that weren't not linking each of the commandments to each other, we're linking them to the corresponding peg. For the third I picture a big ham with a name-tag that says in bright bold letters, "BOB." My ham now has a name. For the fourth I picture a hare all dressed up, going to church. Number 5 is a rather silly image but hard to forget. My parents are rolling down a hill ("Aaaasssss yooouuuuuu wisshhhhhhhhhhh!"). For number 6 I imagine myself killing a shoe. I'm stabbing a knife repeatedly into it yelling horrible things. The seventh is, well, an amusing image. I'll leave it to your imagination. For number 8, we have a man stealing a beehive, running off with it. For the ninth I'm picturing and ape with a nose like Pinocchio's, growing longer and longer. And for the final commandment, I'm picturing myself coveting a friends woods. I've always thought it would be a joy to live in the forest, so this isn't hard to visualize for me. So there you have it. These are just suggestions. Please use whatever images most strike you and are easiest for you to remember. If you have some trouble making the associations, think BIG, GROTESQUE, HUMOROUS, and just plain WEIRD. You can probably come up with much better images and associations than the ones I mentioned; these were just the first things that came to my mind. Now if you want to recall the 5th commandment, think of your pegs, and you'll recall the number 5 is hill. You'll then see your parents rolling down the hill (or whatever image you choose), and you'll remember that the 5th commandment is to honor your mother and father. You may be concerned that once you've used your first 10 pegs for the 10 commandments, you can't use them for anything else. Not so, my friend. The human mind has an amazing capacity for keeping things straight. You can use your first 10 pegs again for another list. You'll be able to keep them straight and the images won't be cluttered. Practice these techniques and you will be amazed. You can now name off items in a list in order, out of order, by number, or even in reverse. Want to name the 10 commandments in reverse order? No problem. Think of your tenth peg. Woods. Coveting woods. Then recall your ninth peg, ape. Ape with a nose like Pinoccio's. Thou shalt not lie! And so on...

  1. Applications

  1. Long-digit Numbers

Using the phonetic alphabet combined with linking you can quite easily memorize strings of numerical digits. There are hundreds of practical uses for this (and reciting pi to 200 decimal places makes a great party stunt). For me the most practical of all is the memorization of phone numbers. Keep in mind everything is done through associations, so make yours powerful. When memorizing a phone number, I create a few images that represent the number. Then I associate the first link of the chain with the person (or entity) to whom the number belongs. I'll give an example. I would use phone numbers that I have actually memorized before, but I'm afraid you would slashdot them, so we'll keep it fictitious. Let's suppose I have a friend named Ralph. The thing that strikes me about Ralph is that he loves baseball. I'll use that fact as a starting point for my link. His phone number is 471-2398. First thing that comes to mind is "ragged gnome beef." So I picture Ralph at the baseball game as he is wont to do, kicking a ragged gnome doll all around the field which happens to be covered with huge mounds of juicy beef.

  1. Names and Faces

Most of us (including myself) could stand to improve our memory of names and faces. I cannot count the number of times I have met someone and within seconds of hearing his or her name, I have somehow managed to forget it. The truth is that I do not have a poor memory of names. Usually when I "forget" a person's name, I never actually committed it to memory in the first place. In fact, I probably didn't even fully hear it! Therefore the first step to improving your memory of names and faces is to be intentionally observant about the matter. Make a conscious effort when you are introduced to someone to look at the person's face and hear the name. A good practice is to spell a person's name when you meet them. If you didn't hear the name the first time, or are unclear on how to spell it, ask them to repeat it or spell it for you. Not only will they be honoured that you actually care, but you will be practicing several of the key elements of a trained memory that we discussed in the beginning paragraphs of this document. If you have the opportunity to converse with the person you have met, use their name during the conversation, when appropriate.

Now extend your observations to the physical characteristics of the person. Study the face, nothing details such as eye-color, forehead, chin, nose, cheeks, facial hair, complexion. Make a special note of any peculiarities, blemishes or otherwise outstanding features. Observe the type of clothing he or she wears, the height. Does the person speak with an accent? Note any observations about their personality you may gather while listening and watching. Later you can discard any extraneous observations that are irrelevant.

In order to remember the person's name when you seem them at a later date, associate the person's name with his or her features. This is a lot of fun. :) It's sort of my private game I play when I meet people. I get to eye them, observe them, find something odd or distinctive about them, and then associate that feature with the name. If I met a man named John Webster who has bushy hair and piercing eyes, I might picture him cleaning toilets (john) with his bushy hair. His hair might also remind me of a web. Then I couple that with his piercing eyes which stare at me. Web-stare...sounds like Webster. This whole process sounds insane, and it is. There is no right or wrong way of doing it. Whatever helps you remember. Here are some tips on how to find a tie-in to the features:

  1. Associate the name of the person with someone you already know or a famous person.

  2. Associate the name with an object (as I did with John - toilet)

  3. Associate the name with sound alike words or rhyme

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope to extend this section at some point.

  1. Calendar Memory

I will now show you how to calculate (rapidly with practice) the day of the week for any given date from September 14th, 1752 (the day the Gregorian calendar was made official in America and England) to the indefinite future. Here is the system:

The days of the week are numbered:

Sunday 1

Monday 2

Tuesday 3

Wednesday 4

Thursday 5

Friday 6

Saturday 0

Next you must memorize a key value for each of the 12 months. You could use the peg system, or any other system to memorize these 12 values:

January 3

February 6

March 6

April 2

May 4

June 0

July 2

August 5

September 1

October 3

November 6

December 1

And the final set of values you will have to remember are the century values:

1700's 2

1800's 0

1900's 5

2000's 4

2100's 2

Now you will be keeping a running total of a series of numbers. First, take the last two digits of the year as your initial number. Divide that number by 4 and discard the remainder. Add the result to your initial number. Then add the century value. Next add the key value for the month in question. Then add the day of the month. Now divide the grand total by 7. The remainder is all that counts.


Suppose we want to know what day of the week December 25th, 1999 falls on.

Date: December 25, 1999

Last two digits of year: 99

Divided by 4 (discarding remainder): 24

Century Value: 5

Key Value for December: 1

Day of Month: 25


Total: 154

Divided by 7: 22 with a remainder of 0

Our answer is: 0 (Saturday)

Now for some shortcuts which will speed up the math. Observe that all we are concerned with is the remainder after dividing the total by 7. Since we're adding a sum of numbers, we never have to add a number greater than 6. Any time we are adding a number, we can subtract the largest multiple of 7 that is not greater than that number. And any time our running total reaches a number greater than 6, we can again subtract the largest multiple of 7 that is not greater than our running total. Knowing the multiples of 7 up to 98 will greatly improve your speed. If you know your multiplication tables, you know the multiples of 7 through 84. Now just remember that 91 and 98 are also multiples of 7 and you're set. Let's do the previous example using this shortcut to our advantage.

EXAMPLE #2 (#1 with a shortcut applied)

Suppose we want to know what day of the week December 25th, 1999 falls on.

Date: December 25, 1999

Last two digits of year: 1 (98 is a multiple of 7, so we subtract it from 99)

Divide year by 4 (discarding remainder): 3 (21 is a multiple of 7 so we subtract it from 24)

Century Value: 5


Our running total is now 9 which is 2 more

than a multiple of 7, so we'll just use 2 as

our running total: 2


Key Value for December: 1

Day of Month: 4 (21 is a multiple of 7 so we subtract it from 25)


Total: 7

Divided by 7: 1 with a remainder of 0

Our answer is: 0 (Saturday)

The next shortcut is obvious, but practical. I typically calculate days of the week for the year I am in (and often for the next year). I do this often enough that I unintentionally memorize the first three steps. The first three steps are year-specific. If you cache the result of the first three steps, you'll never have to do the math for that year again. For 1999, the result is 2 (see the first three steps of example #2. So in practice, if I wanted to know the day of the week that Christmas falls on this year I wouldn't have to do any math for the first bit. I'd just start my running total with 2, then add 1 and 4 to it to get 7. Then the day of the week is apparent instantly.

Note about Leap Years:

If the last two digits of a year are divisible by 4 with no remainder, they are a leap year, and you must subtract 1 from the key values for January and February. Other months are unaffected. Years ending in 00 (the last year in a century*) such as 1800, 1900, and 2000 must be divisible by 400 in order to be a leap year. Thus 1800 and 1900 are not leap years, while 2000 is. Even though such years are the last year in a century technically, for our purposes we are not dealing with centuries, but rather with sets of 100's such as the 1800's and the 1900's. Therefore 1900 should be treated as an ordinary year (not a leap year) in the 1900's.

    * (2001 is the first year in the 21st century and 3rd millennium. This is due to the fact that that there is no year 0 in the Gregorian calendar. It went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. So the first century was from the 1st year of our Lord, to the 101st year of our Lord.

Now let's do an example of a date that is affected by the leap year:

EXAMPLE #3 (Leap Year)

Date: February 12, 1896

Last two digits of year: 5 (91 is a multiple of 7, so we subtract it from 96)

Divide year by 4 (discarding remainder): 3 (21 is a multiple of 7 so we subtract it from 24)


Our running total is now 8 which is 1 more

than a multiple of 7, so we'll just use 1 as

our running total: 1


Century Value: 0

Key Value for February: 5 (subtract 1 since February is a month affected by the leap year.)

Day of Month: 5 (7 is a multiple of 7 so we subtract it from 12)


Total: 11

Divided by 7: 1 with a remainder of 4

Our answer is: 4 (Wednesday)

  1. Playing Cards

I will now show you how to memorize the order of a pack of cards. You will also be able to recall the exact position of any card in the deck. This doesn't have any real practical application that we are aware of, but it makes a terrific stunt. And the system can be applied to just about any game in which knowing what cards have fallen is advantageous. The system is simple enough, but requires a fair amount of practice and dedication in order to master it. Each card in the pack (of 52 standard playing cards) is given a picture. The system for the cards Ace through 10 of each suit is as follows. The word begins with the sound that the suit begins with and ends with a sound that matches the phonetic alphabet. For the Jacks, the word begins with the sound of the suit and rhymes (or nearly rhymes) with "jack." For the Queens, the word begins with the sound of the suit and rhymes with queen. And for the Kings, the word is simply the suit itself. This may be a bit confusing but should make sense as you look at the chart below:

                         Clubs          Hearts         Spades         Diamonds
            Ace            Cat            Hut           Suit           Date
              2           Cane           Hone            Sun           Dune
              3           Comb           Home           Seam            Dam
              4           Core           Hair           Sore           Door
              5           Kill           Hail           Sail           Doll
              6           Cash          Hedge           Sash          Ditch
              7           Cook            Hog           Sock           Dock
              8           Cave           Hoof           Safe           Dive
              9            Cob           Heap           Soap           Dope
             10           Case           Hose          Sauce           Dose
           Jack          Crack           Hack          Shack           Deck
          Queen          Cream        Heroine         Spleen          Dream
           King           Club          Heart          Spade        Diamond

Learn this chart well. Practice it until you can quickly see the image for each card. To apply this substitute the card itself with it's associated image. If you're going through the deck to memorize it, you can use the link system to link your 52 images together. When you're done going through the deck you'll have the entire thing memorized in order. Even more impressive is to use the peg system. Stick each card in the appropriate cubbyhole (remember those 100 pegs you memorized?). Start by sticking the first card in hat, the second in hen, and so on. Then you'll be able to name the position of any card in the deck, or recall which card is at a given position.

  1. Conclusion and call for your input

Thanks for taking the time to read my essay. I hope that the techniques I've shown you will help you to improve your memory and will prove useful. I welcome any comments, including spelling/grammatical changes, suggestions for additions or modifications of any kind, and anecdotes about your personal experience with memory training. Feel free to e-mail me at

  1. Copyright, Credits, and Suggested further reading

Copyright 1999 by Jamin Philip Gray. Feel free to distribute this document provided you leave the copyright and authorship intact.

Most of the techniques presented here were not developed by me. I highly recommend reading the following books for more information on the exciting subject of memory training:

How to Develop an Exceptional Memory by Morris Young, M.D. And Walter Gibson. Wilshire Book Company. 1962.

How to Develop a Super Power Memory by Harry Lorayne. Fell Publishers, Inc. 1990.

Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory by Kevin Trudeau. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1995.

Super Memory, Super Student: How to Raise your Grades in 30 Days by Harry Lorayne. Little, Brown and Company. 1990.

There comes a time in a person's life when they realize that their memory isn't quite as quick, or as sharp as it used to be. Luckily for me this happened in my twenties, (I'm now twenty four) and just in time for me to be able to do something about it. I decided to learn what I could about memory, and how one is able to train it to be able to work better. Quicker, more effective recall is what i was after, and by golly I got it!

I was going to node it today, but after typing in my node title, discover to my surprise (and admiration) that kaatunut has already done an excellent job.

There's really not much more to add, except that the tricks used above aren't just tricks, they are exercises that do help to train and strengthen your memory and your imagination. Also they aren't an exhaustive set. There are a couple of methods missing, the most important of which is the Roman Room Method, which is the basis of the Memory Palace.

Roman Room System

Long ago, before printing made books widely available, and writing was the privilege of the tiny minority ( < 1%) the world carried on quite normally.

This seems like an odd statement to make, until you realize what exactly it means.

None of these people wrote, but they had to trade, remember debts owed, paid, directions, days for planting, days for harvesting, family members, friends names, addresses, what they owned, what they had lent, the laws, their scriptures, history and the many other countless but vital things that our culture writes down and puts away.

How did they do it?

Well, they used their memories, and most of them got along just fine without any sort of 'memory system' except teachers.

It's all very well remembering the day to day things, but a teacher had to be able to remember vast quantities of data and reproduce it at will with perfect form. For this he needed a much more reliable system, and one such system was developed by the Greeks, and then matured by the Romans, and is thus called the Roman Room System.

It's quite simple. Imagine if you will, an empty room (complete with door, light and window). Now stick a sofa into it, facing the fireplace, or the TV. How about a coffee table, and maybe a bookshelf? Got them? Good. Now walk out the door and relax. Do you remember what was in the room? Of course you do. It's like a normal living room, there's a sofa, coffee table, fireplace, tv, and bookshelf. All well and good, but here comes the interesting bit.

Lets imagine I'm going shopping in the town and I want to remember the following items:

  1. clock
  2. tonka truck
  3. bowl
  4. toilet paper
  5. model of robot
So now what we're going to do is put these items in our imaginary room. Clock on TV, Tonka Truck in the fireplace, Toilet paper strewn about the place, model robot sitting on the sofa, watching the TV and eating from the bowl.

Now walk through the room again, and see everything. Sofa - Robot - Bowl, TV - Clock, Fireplace - Tonka Truck, Room - Toilet Paper.

Easy, isn't it?

Memory Palace

A memory palace is simply a collection of Roman Rooms with suitable corridors, and interesting architecture. You create a few rooms and keep things there, then you add more and more, until you realize you're keeping thousands of items, at which point you may start a new and better organised Palace elsewhere in your mind. Which will not only contain a labyrinth of rooms, corridors, halls, gardens, tunnels, domes, and other features, but also sometimes even people you've met in real life roaming the halls and tending your ideas. It's a whole new world in there. Yours. Ready to be made, and explored.

The limit is your imagination.

(I should perhaps add a note that this takes some gentle practise to begin with. Trying it for one or two rooms is a revelation, but for 2-300 it's a revelation of a different order completely. That's not to say it isn't great. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and have come across a few rather interesting challenges in my practise, if anyone decides to start using this method, then by all means feel free to get in touch with me, if you think I can help.)

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