The Mind Palace
“The mind is like flowers, they only open when the time is right” - Stephen Richards
Remember, Sherlock when was stuck in a situation where he had to defuse a bomb and when he was shot by Watson's wife. You must be curious about how he managed to escape such deluded situations without any aid from outside. Well, guess what? This had left many of his fans out there puzzled. You must have heard of 'the mind palace technique', a confusing yet clear phrase, right? Not so clear we presume. The ' memory theatre' or 'the memory journey', different names but the same thing. A shocking fact is that this technique is almost as old as ancient Greek civilization. Well, there are many other things which we humans are not aware of and we are going to open our mind to understand this particular method keeping the rest aside.
There's a little mythical story behind the invention of this technique. It is said that Simonides of Ceos attended a function at a banquet. He stepped outside to greet someone. And after returning witnessed the banquet collapsing. However, he was able to name everybody squashed under the concrete by associating their names with the places they were standing on when he left the banquet. The ability came to be known as ‘the method of loci’ or location.
The mind palace is like an imaginary place or location, one creates in their mind. It has specific rooms, exact locations to remember the buried things. The spots are helpful to recall information also known as 'loci' a Latin word for places, which brings us to another name of this technique 'the method of loci' as old as it sounds.
In a book written by John O'Keefe and Lynn Nadel, this method was found to be linked with Greek and Romans and was described eminently by Yates in 1966 in her book named 'the art of memory'. According to them, the subject memorizes the layout of a building, a street, a shop, a market or any other geographical figure which consists of different spots or loci to mark with the information. The subject can revisit the market whenever he needs the information. The technique was remarkable in terms of efficiency and reliance.
This method uses visualization and spatial memory to build a memory lane. Many memory contest winners reported using this as their special ingredient to win. Mr.Dominic O’Brian the Eight time world memory champion, one learned 54 deck of cards by looking at each card just once. See, Sherlock's not the only one to exercise his right of mind. There have been a number of people who affirmed to use memorization techniques in order to achieve success.
This can be a breakthrough to learn things in old age as well. A study conducted in Norway in 2010 on 23 volunteers who were above the age of 61, concluded that, after training them with this technique they were able to learn a list of 30 items in just 10 minutes. Isn't it amazing? So, now the question is how to gain this power. Let’s train our mind to learn this.
How to build a mind palace
As we all know now that this technique is highly reliable when it comes to sharpening your memory. So why not learn how to build one for yourself. At first, it will be a bit difficult but with time and experience, the mastery comes.
Step 1: Since this is your first mind palace, choose a well-known building or place, about which you're fully aware. You can choose your home, your locality or even your school.
Step 2: Plan out the entire route in your memory, the entry gate, the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, the closet, and the balcony and so on vividly. You will have several discreet spots to name on. Practice remembering the exact same pattern to make it seamless. It may seem abrupt in the first few tries but it will get smoother.
Step 3: After memorizing each corner of your geographical structure, you are all set to mark it with the things you intend to learn. Now, for instance, you are preparing for a test, name out the particular things in a strategic manner to assign them with spots.
Step 4: After naming out, you need to link those things with particular places or mental image in your mind palace. Associate the link by creating a story out of it. For example, the first thing you want to learn is the table to 8, you can relate it with the stairs leading to your front door, with each step you will remember the table. Exaggeration and imagination are crucial for this technique to work.
Step 5: Make these images live in your palace with your senses. Association is necessary to make them stay longer.
Pro tip: Always choose a structure which will never change, at least for a longer period of time. You can remember the order in a clockwise manner, this decreases the chances of confusion.
Benefits of having a mind palace
With consistent experience, the association gets stronger and the recalling gets easier. One can effortlessly manage to have multiple palaces stored in their mind. It is proven that the brain recalls images faster than text which can be a grave reason behind the massive effect of this method. Other advantages of acquiring this ability are:
1. The first benefit is like a gold star for us knowing that this technique is not a God gift. One can strive to build their own mind palace.
2. It is a fun technique which can be taught playfully to the children. It will make it easy and interesting for them to learn some boring and monotonous topics without cramming anything.
3. It increases focus and concentration just like meditation. Well obviously, we can't compare both but it does provide you with the basic fundamentals of meditating by concentrating on the palace inside your mind.
4. It is said to reduce stress during exam days. Not only for children but for adults too.
5. It keeps the brain healthy as you are regularly exercising the brain muscles to recall things. It sharpens your humor and imagination by evolving the different sections of your brain.
6. It is an exquisite way to easily learn a foreign language, which in turn increases your socialization. Learning a foreign language can very tough however, utilizing this modus operandi can work in exceptional ways.
As explained, creating palaces in your mind is immensely practical not just for the fictional characters, for the general public too.
Today, we can't imagine our day without using the internet. We are entirely dependent upon the Google for every single piece of information. But, don't you think that not everything should be searched through Google. Technology has made our lives easier, whilst it has also made us utterly dependent. Imagine the time when there was no internet, no paper, not many people knew how to read and write. All they did was to use their brains fully to recollect items from their memory lanes. We can quote, that building a mind palace technique is blessing for our generation in situations who certainly has forgot to learn. We rely on cramming things which vanishes from the brain readily. Exercising this method can empower us in many ways to be successful. Clearly, we have established the actual story behind Sherlock’s so called mind palace technique. So, as Sherlock says, open your mind attics and let it generate wonders.
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose” - Sherlock