Do You Remember?
Give me 30 minutes;
I will make you a memory expert
In this article, you will learn a simple memory technique to remember tangible objects. Learn the method and take the test to convince yourself it works. You can take a printout of this article and start using it immediately.
Brief History of Memory
Mnemonics is the process or technique of improving or developing the memory.
In ancient times, papers and disks were nonexistent. Scholars found it difficult and impractical to inscribe thousands of pages of philosophy and knowledge on metal sheets or stones. The Greek Philosophers, the Roman Orators, the Indian Sages, the Egyptian Priests and the Buddhist Monks developed many memory techniques to preserve their knowledge.
Simonides, a Greek poet born in 556 B.C., invented mnemonics. He used mental images and associated them with familiar places in his house.
Shakespeare used memory systems. He used them so extensively that his Globe Theater was called The Memory Theater.
William Stokes published a book Memory in 1888. It was the first organized work on modern memory systems.
Harry Lorayne, the legendary memory show performer, developed many infallible memory techniques based on the ancient systems. Almost all modern memory books and courses are based on his ideas.
Simonides is called the father of memory systems. Yet such systems existed in India and Egypt for thousands of years before him. We are able to learn the methods of western scholars because they have recorded the details of their methods. The great Indian Gurus hid their knowledge in difficult Sanskrit verses and allowed only their favorite disciples to learn the secret knowledge.
Memory and Intelligence
In developing countries, fluency in English is mistaken for intelligence. Throughout the world an excellent memory is mistaken as a sign of a powerful intelligence. There is a great difference between efficient memory and productive intelligence.
If you have poor memory, you can set it right. But, intelligence that you acquire by birth can not be improved by any system or surgery. Only the Divine can permanently improve your intelligence.
Absentmindedness is a common problem. Though absentmindedness is not a memory problem, it can also be cured by mind training methods.
Yogis and geniuses use different sources of knowledge to know the facts and the truth. Let us think of the sources and methods that will be useful for the rest of us.
All knowledge, learning and work are based on memory. The article does not discuss about the skill with which you can repeat any text word for word. No doubt, that is a great skill.
We use the memory all the time. Almost everything we learn is based on memory of one form or another. The so called understanding is only a higher form of memory, whatever the educators say. Now, I am in trouble. The educators will roll up their sleeves and argue with big bangs on their tables. Yet, it is a fact.
Learning without trained memory is the same as not learning. The forthcoming books on memory will present arguments and evidence.
Importance of Memory
Forgetfulness is a weakness. You must eliminate it at any cost. Trained and systematic memory will help you to remember anything you want to.
Plato said, All knowledge is but remembrance. Lee Iacocca uses a memory system and makes mental lists every morning of the things he wants to accomplish that day (Fortune, August 1978).
Reference books are useful. However, imagine the following situations when you do not have trained memory:
v A doctor referring to the medical books in the Operation Theatre as he operates
v A lawyer referring to books in front of the Judge as he argues
v A salesperson referring to brochure as he explains his products
v A businessperson referring to annual reports as he addresses the Board of Directors
v A student referring to books as he writes examination
v A public speaker reading out his speech from paper
v A consultant referring to notes as he gives a presentation
v A homemaker referring to books as she cooks
v A devotee referring to the Life Divine to recall the themes and ideas
Think of the impact they will have on others and on the work, if the needed knowledge comes to them automatically with the help of a system.
You cannot forget anything of which you are conscious. These systems will force you to become conscious of the things you want to remember.
When you consciously try to memorize, you give split-second conscious attention to the things on hand. That is more than enough to produce powerful results.
Acquisition of any powerful mental skill will immediately attract great life responses. We dont have to elaborate on savings in time, improvement of efficiency in work, customer satisfaction and increase in profitability. The practical applications are many.
Think of a few happy scenarios:
v A businessperson remembers hundreds of presentations and uses them resourcefully without forgetting a single point.
v A consultant remembers thousands of articles, anecdotes, examples and solutions. He remembers hundreds of systems, reports and instructions.
v A public speaker gives a flawless speech without forgetting a single idea. He delivers the speech exactly as he prepared.
v A lawyer argues a case without forgetting any point, impressing the judges by presenting case law and sections.
v A reporter prepares questionnaires and remembers to ask all the questions. He can remember different sets of questionnaires.
v A salesperson remembers all the facts about hundreds of customers and products. He will remember dozens of well prepared sales talks and demos.
v A worker memorizes To-Do lists. He does not miss out anything.
v A teacher remembers hundreds of lectures and delivers them without a mistake.
v A devotee remembers all the themes of the Life Divine and abstract spiritual concepts. He recalls them when he needs.
Use of information has three steps:
v Identification of useful information
v Retention of the information for future use
v Application of the information
Identification and application of information are up to you. The memory system will take care of the second step.
Problems of the Mind
Mind is a great instrument. But it has some problems. These problems are native to the nature of the mind. Instead of working against the nature of the mind, we can work in harmony with these problems to acquire a great mental skill.
The following weaknesses of the mind will be of interest to us:
v Mind relies on known methods and things
v Mind is always active with mechanical thoughts
v Mind exaggerates
v Mind has scales and believes big is difficult and small is easy
v Mind prefers illogical thoughts to reason
v Mind mistakes one for another
We will later see how to use these weaknesses to our advantage.
Do the systems work?
The memory systems do work. They will never let you down. They are efficient and useful. There are only two problems:
v Your unwillingness to learn the new system
v Your unwillingness to practice the new system
The systems are very powerful and almost infallible because
v they depend only on inner means; they do not need any external aid
v they use subtle means; they do not use physical means
If you had already learnt the basic principles from a book, did some funny mental gymnastics and now find that they are ineffective and time consuming work, dont worry.
The memory development, like any other development, is a process. It is not an abracadabra magic. You must learn both the process and the principles of practical use in real life situations. Only then you will have positive results.
Most of the memory books and courses are based on techniques developed by Harry Lorayne. They teach you some interesting principles and talk about general applications. Different people have different requirements. Though electricity is the same, the requirement of a heater is different from that of a computer. No system or power will work for you, if you do not how, when and where to apply.
They work infallibly if you know both the theory and practice. Once the process becomes part of your mind, you will realize that you are saving dozens of hours every month.
The Link System Demonstration
Here we will take up Link System of Memory, a simple technique, and demonstrate its power to convince your mind that this works.
An American management consultant, who had an open mind, spent some time with me to learn one of the principles. He appreciated the value of the memory system and agreed that the number of areas where these principles can be used is infinite. But for him, the article and the forthcoming memory books would not have seen the light.
There are two steps in this demonstration.
v In the first step, you will memorize a few tangible objects in sequence, try to remember them in direct and reverse order without using the memory system and record your score.
v In the second step, you will memorize a few tangible objects in sequence, try to remember them in direct and reverse order using the memory system and record your score.
Objects to Remember
A Quick Test
Try to memorize the items in sequence, that is, Television, clock, Bicycle etc. Take ten minutes. Then try to recall without looking at the list. Note down your score.
v Can you recall the items in sequence?
v Can you recall the items in reverse order?
v What is next to Airplane?
v What is next to Cell Phone?
v What comes before Microphone?
v What is the second item from Necktie?
v What is the third item from Flower?
v What is second item from Cricket Bat?
v What is the Last but one item?
v What is next to bicycle?
Now, you are going to learn a powerful system that will enable you to remember items. You can remember one thousand items easily and recall them without error, even after two months or two years.
You can improve your memory dramatically in the next fifteen minutes
v Without taking vitamin tablets
v Without difficult concentration methods
v Without ineffective exercises
You will be a great memory expert if you:
v Can think illogically
v Imagine stupid things
v Exaggerate facts
v Committed to use the system
In other words, you will use the weaknesses of the mind to upgrade or acquire an important mental skill. The solution to the forgetfulness is already built into the source of the problem.
How to remember the objects?
Link System of Memory is simple.
v Associate or Link the first item to the second item; then second item to the third item and so on.
v See the associations as pictures in your mind.
v Association must be
§ Ridiculous and Illogical
§ Out of Proportion
When you first try to apply the method, you will think it is time consuming and difficult. We always resist anything that tries to make us conscious. But, keep using the system. Then, the process will become natural to you. For example, I can memorize a telephone number faster than you note it down on a paper. You may lose your paper; I will never forget the number.
How did you feel when you first started to learn to drive car or to type? Did you not feel that you would never be able to do it? I felt so. But, now it is natural to me.
As you go, your mind will be trained to make associations and remember automatically. Mind is a big ocean. It can remember millions of things and incidents without a mistake. So, the knowledge you can receive is limited only to your willingness to work. Learn and practice the system. A little effort will give rich rewards in a short time.
Do not think logically when you use the system. That is the golden key. You are expected to follow reason and logic in other walks of life.
Mind does not follow logic. So, logic will fail you. The more illogical you are, the more efficient your memory will be. There is a divine logic (!) behind this illogical principle. I am not explaining it here.
Now, let us remember these items using the Link system.
See mental Picture.
Television to Clock:
You are watching a movie on a gigantic clock instead of a television. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second. As you gain experience you will be able to see images with your eyes open.
Clock to Bicycle:
You are riding a big clock instead of a bicycle. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second. It is not necessary that you must use the picture I suggest. Whatever illogical picture that comes to you naturally can be used. Your own picture will be more powerful to you than mine.
Bicycle to Airplane:
You are flying on a big bicycle instead of an airplane in the sky. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Plane to Pen:
Write something with a big airplane instead of a pen. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second. See it in action.
Pen to Cricket Bat:
A cricket player is swinging a gigantic pen instead of a cricket bat to hit a sixer. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Cricket Bat to Necktie:
You are wearing a big cricket bat instead of a necktie. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Necktie to Tooth Brush:
You are brushing your teeth with a big colorful necktie instead of Tooth Brush. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Tooth Brush to Rocket:
A gigantic tooth Brush instead of a Rocket takes off to the space with a big blast with fire and smoke. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind.
Rocket to Chair:
A big Rocket is sitting on your Chair and rocking. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Chair to shoe:
You are wearing big chairs instead of shoes. See yourself walking with a pair of chairs. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Shoe to Bus:
You are traveling in a big shoe instead of a bus. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Bus to Book:
You are reading a big bus instead of a book. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Book to Flower
Millions of books are flowering and blossoming on plants or trees. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Flower to Cigarette:
You are smoking a big flower instead of a cigarette. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Cigarette to Cell Phone:
You are talking through a big burning cigarette instead of a cell phone. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Cell Phone to Fish:
Cell phones are swimming in a huge fish bowl. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Fish to Computer:
You are using a big fish instead of a computer to send email. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Computer to Horse:
A big horse is using your computer. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Horse to Microphone:
A gigantic horse is giving a public speech through a microphone. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Microphone to Knife:
You are using a big microphone instead of a knife to cut your fruits. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Knife to Nail:
You are driving a big knife into the wall instead of a nail to hang a picture. Close your eyes and see this illogical mental picture in your mind for a fraction of second.
Now, take time to remember the first item. We will learn in the book, how to memorize the first item also.
Congratulations! You have done it. Now take the test again. What is your score?
Amazing! Isnt it?
If you have any problem, here are the possible reasons:
v You tried to see words instead of pictures
v Your Picture was too logical
Go back to the item you forgot and strengthen the mental picture and association. Now try again. You will not have any problem now.
There are many variables to consider when you apply the system to real life situations. Discussion about them is beyond the scope of this article.
The purpose of this article is to make you prove to yourself that the memory systems work. Thats all.
If you have questions about the memory systems, like the following questions, please send them to email@example.com. I will try to answer all your questions with explanations and examples in forthcoming books on memory development.
v Will it not spoil our learning process?
v Are the other methods difficult to learn?
v Will it work for abstract information like law or philosophy?
v Will it work for strange names like the names of villages in Africa?
v Can it be taught to young children?
19 May 2004