Moonwalking with Einstein: BrainBomb #3 (The Memory Palace)

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This post is inspired by Moonwalking with Einstein, and is part of our “BrainBomb” series. If you are inspired by the idea in this post, download the BrainBomb desktop wallpaper: (1440 x 900) or (1920 x 1200). Here are the firstsecond and third posts in this series. If you want a video summary and workbook for this book, sign up for a free trial of Read It For Me Pro.

Claudia Schiffer swimming naked in a container of cottage cheese

Indulge me for a second here. Imagine that this large container of cottage cheese was on your front porch.  Close your eyes and visualize it in as much detail as possible.

Done?

You’ve just taken the first step in using the Memory Palace technique that was first used by fifth-century BC poet Simonides when he was at a dinner that ended in disaster - the building collapsed killing many of the people inside.  Simonides escaped, only to find himself standing outside the rubble watching a number of people search the rubble for their loved ones. As he was standing there, Simonides realized that he remembered exactly where each of the people at the dinner party had been sitting, without any attempt to memorize them beforehand. The layout of the room and the location of each person within it was embedded in his memory.  He was then able to help the grieving families locate their loved ones.

He discovered something powerful that day - that our brains have an uncanny knack for remembering images and locations.

Memory is about creativity, not brain power

As the world memory champions would tell you, having a powerful memory is all about creativity. Why? Because we have an unlimited capacity to remember things when they are memorable, and we can recall them at a moment’s notice by storing them in our brain in a specific fashion. So, the only thing that is standing in your way is your ability to create associations between the things you want to remember, and the things that are memorable.

Skeptical?

The next time you see a container of cottage cheese (or your front porch), I dare you not to imagine Claudia Schiffer swimming naked in it. In fact, this is the exact image that Joshua Foer was instructed to commit to memory in his first lesson on creating a powerful memory.  When you store that memory in a place that you can go back to in your mind, you can literally create a system to remember anything that you want to.

Here’s how I’ll use this technique

I read a lot of books. While I was in law school, I somehow managed to read more non-law books than our assigned texts. Unfortunately, I remember little (if anything) from the entirely of my lifelong reading.  Up until recently, I just accepted that as part of my life. I would read a lot, remember bits and pieces, and hope that the bits and pieces were the right bits and pieces.  Not a great game plan, for sure.  I’ve always intuitively thought that it didn’t need to be this way, but now I have proof.

So, I’m going to start using it to create mental models of every single book I read, so that I can recall the principles at a moment’s notice. I’m also going to start embedding that method into the book summaries we create for our Read It For Me Pro subscribers. I can’t imagine a more powerful thing than having the ability to access everything you’ve ever learned on a moment’s notice.

How could YOU use this technique to improve your life?  If you want a specific run through of how to use these techniques in your life, sign up for a free trial of Read It For Me Pro and get the full summary.

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