Memory training can seem like a huge and daunting subject, and the more you look into it the more complicated it can seem to be. Inevitably, you start to feel overwhelmed by it all. You read of amazing feats of memory and of the sometimes complex memory training systems that are supposed to bring it all within your reach, and you start to feel disheartened. You’re left with the question, where do I start?
Where do I start?
Where to start …
Well, the first thing is to stop panicking! It’s no use getting all wound up by the compexities of memory training and the various techniques to increase memory. In fact, anxiety is one of the things that will very effectively block successful memory improvement.
Before you start, spend some time learning about the subject and about all the various memory improvement techniques that are available to help you. Obviously, these details are available on this site – everything you need to achieve a better memory.
And put things into perspective; your memory is already a marvellous faculty, and anything you can do to improve it will only add it its scope. Hold on, it’s marvellous already? How’s that then … ?
Your amazing memory
You have a far better memory than you think. All day, every day, your memory performs astonishing feats of skill in creating, storing and retrieving memories of all descriptions. Most of what you do consists of things you’ve done before, and you haven’t forgotten how to do them, even without any specific memory training. Here’s a very brief list of some of them, and yes, they all seem very simple and straightforward, but it wasn’t always that way — you had to learn how to do each and every one, and you had to store that information for future use. Here’s the list:
- understanding the meaning and usage of thousands of words
- understanding the rules of grammar
- communicating effectively
- riding a bike / driving a car / playing sports
- following the plots and characters of TV ‘soaps’
- understanding your computer, iPod / iPhone / iPad, and every other device you use
The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. You do all these things, and much, much more, without a second thought, and yet you consider you have a poor memory! You may have an untrained memory, but the potential for having a fantastic memory is plainly there.
Practise, and enhance your memory
Already you can see your memory is performing miracles on a moment-by-moment basis. Memory training can only enhance your memory, which is an already astonishing faculty. Build your confidence further by putting your memory to the test. Think of a time in your life that you’ve practically forgotten about (at least consciously). Pick something that seems way back and lost in the mists of time, yet something that might have seemed fairly important to you at the time.
Now settle down for a few minutes, close your eyes, and really think about that time, and that particular event. Think about that job, or that relationship, or that achievement or failure, or whatever it was that you chose, and see what comes to mind. Don’t worry, you have a much better memory than you think!
Grasp onto what little you can recall and try to allow memories to come back. Don’t force it though, just allow your mind to do its thing. One thing will lead to another. A memory can appear to form in your mind (or be recalled) in a way that is similar to the physical creation of a memory — that is, one thing links to another by some obscure route, which may remind you of something else, and so on, and on, until you have a network of interlinking bits of the memory.
Memory training … how your memory works
This is very much like the way neurons (brain cells) operate; an electrical impulse in one reaches out for another across a gap (the synapse) between the ends of two cells (the dendrites). By the time you’ve created the memory (or recalled it), you’ve made possibly hundreds or thousands of tiny connections between brain cells. The result is a unique and complex pattern that your brain recognises as a particular and individual memory.
If you do this exercise, you may surprise yourself with what you can actually recall. What seemed like a vague and largely forgotten incident can reveal itself as a recognisable and surprisingly detailed recollection. And the word ‘recollection’ is particularly appropriate, since it is happening again (or appearing to), hence the ‘re’ part of the word, and is the result of a collection of many individual little pieces of the original experience.
You might recall, bit by bit, the sounds that you heard at the time, the people that were around, the look on someone’s face as they turned to face you, the way you felt, the weather, the laughter of children or the barking of a dog, traffic sounds, the warmth of the sun on your face, and on and on. Bit by bit, an entire ‘collection’ of things comprise a re-collection. And you thought you had a bad memory!
How best to benefit from memory training –
start slowly, take it easy …
Don’t expect too much too soon. Memory training isn’t something to be rushed. Work steadily at a few simple techniques to increase memory. Apply them to simple tasks, like shopping lists, phone numbers, to-do lists and the like. As you learn more, push your limits a bit further and notice how you enhance your memory.
Take something like a list of all the British Prime Ministers or American Presidents and try to commit them to memory. Or a list of countries, their languages, flags, main exports and so on. It doesn’t really matter if these things particularly interest you, it’s just a means to an end, a test of your progress. Or put your newly improved memory to work on memorizing something that has real relevance for you, like a list of your customers or clients, a list of exercises, details of your favourite sports stars’ achievements, or anything else you find interesting.
As you persevere, you’ll find that you have a better memory than you thought. Using the right techniques to increase memory will enhance your memory without any real effort at all. The memory improvement techniques themselves aren’t that difficult – the difficulties arise only if you don’t persevere with them. Or to put it another way, they will always work …