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A journey of self-actualization.

Category: Learning Techniques

How To Filter Information For What Is Most Important To You

When you enter a library or log online, you encounter a wealth of knowledge. You know that knowledge is a form of power, and you thirst for it. But you…

When you enter a library or log online, you encounter a wealth of knowledge. You know that knowledge is a form of power, and you thirst for it.

But you have a problem: There is more power in one room than you can absorb in a lifetime.

How do you decide what to invest your time in and what not to?

You log online to check Facebook or Twitter. There are varying articles in your newsfeed. Some are about current events. Some are about business and self-improvement. Others are about science, technology, and futurism.

Yet, you only have so many hours in the day. You can only read but so fast, and you’ve come to terms with your personal limitations.

So, if you know that you can only read so fast and retain but so much…what do you choose to read? Every second you waste reading material that brings little to no value to you is a waste of life.

Some say that time is money. I say that time is life.

Meanwhile, this is not one of those scenarios of simple deductive reasoning.

If A = B and B = C, then A must = C.

Sure. That logic is sound enough in theory, but I wouldn’t say that money is life.

If “life” = “time” and “time” = “money,” then “life” must = “money.”

…yeah…uh…

…no.

Though, saving time does equate to saving life and money at the same time. And having money can help you live a happier life. But I wouldn’t connect them as all one and the same.

 

Clarify Your Intent Before You Do Anything Else

As a marketing strategist, I often juggle many clients at the same time. Sometimes, I’ll need to focus on one task, but receive messages relevant to seven others. All at once.

If I give in to the impulse to answer them all right then and there, my productivity drops. Even though I’m speaking to the clients.

When I begin to sense that this is happening to me, I take a step back. Sometimes, to reset my mind, I’ll even get in the shower. Even if I had already showered that day. On a busy, stressful day, I may actually take up to four showers.

The heat and the water hitting my limbs, neck, and back relax me. The process shifts me from beta brainwave state into alpha.

In alpha state, my subconscious mind puts things into perspective. I start thinking of things that I wouldn’t have before if I had kept straining my focus in the moment prior.

Things become clearer. I begin to focus on what’s important.

Then, I ask myself two questions:

  1. What is it that I need to focus on first?
  2. Why is it that I need to put that first?

The same concept applies to information overload in general. To sort through the buzz and bull, we need to take a step back.

First, we need to clarify two things:

  1. What is it that we’d like to learn? (Start off with a question.)
  2. Why do we want to learn it?

The “what” and the “why.”

  • The “what” synthesizes and organizes.
  • The “why” generates emotion and solidifies willpower. It also sets the mental framework for determining what’s important and what’s not.

 

An Example of Filtering Information By Asking What

What is it that I’d like to learn (today)? The answer to a vital question for accomplishing a business goal:

How can I increase my monthly revenue to $7,000 per month in a scalable way?

Ok. So…now, we’ve established the question. The question will synthesize the framework of what comes in and out of our filter. What we want to learn, and what direction we should go to learn it.

This is a question that has an answer that dives into a few different subjects:

Marketing strategy, and business development.

It involves marketing strategy, because one has to think of how to attract more clients, to begin with.

Then, it also goes into business development. This is because one has to think of how to service those clients in a sustainable manner. This may mean gaining knowledge of how to delegate new staff, or something like that.

So, now we’ve taken a moment to step back and clarify our intent. We know to skip any information not about marketing strategy or business development.

And not every bit of information in those topics is useful, either. So, it’s important that we keep the question clear in our minds. This is to narrow down what information within those two subjects answers it.

 

An Example of Filtering Information By Asking Why

Why do I want to learn it?

I want to learn how to increase my income to $7,000 per month so that I can pay off my student loans faster.

You can go deeper into your own psychology by asking why to the why. Why would I like to pay off my student loans faster?

I would like to pay off my student loans faster because it would increase my credit score.

Then, ask another why to that why. Why would you like to increase your credit score?

I’d like to increase my credit score so that I can be a more reliable man for my family. If I need to pull out an emergency loan, I’ll have the credit score to get approved. If I get approved, I can save the day for my family, if needed.

After that, ask yet another why to that why. Why would you like to be a more reliable man for your family?

I would like to be a more reliable man for my family, because my father was not a reliable man for me. I don’t want my family to suffer the way that I suffered growing up, in poverty.

You can ask an infinite number of whys. To go deeper and deeper into your own psychology. To discover the underlying emotions that drive you. Once you find that emotion through exploring your why, you’ll tap into grand willpower.

This willpower will not only drive you to discover the answer to your question. It will drive you to accomplish the objective that makes the question relevant, to begin with. When you tap into that deep emotion, self-discipline issues take care of themselves as well.

Harness Your Mental Filter

Once you decide what it is that you’d like to learn and why, the next steps are to do two things:

  1. Determine the path you’d like to go in to learn what you want
  2. Upon coming across every piece of information, ask yourself if it is vital to your path

But these third and fourth steps take care of themselves once you have the first two squared away.

What are your thoughts on this?

Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.

He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.

As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.

You can find his marketing strategy firm’s blog at OMIFirm.com. Follow him on LinkedIn and Quora.

2 Comments on How To Filter Information For What Is Most Important To You

How To Create A Memory Palace: A Live Example

Himnaríki:  My Memory Palace [This is an article posted in conjunction with: How to Create a Memory Palace: A Complete and Thorough Manual, it is meant to be a live example for…

Himnaríki:  My Memory Palace

[This is an article posted in conjunction with: How to Create a Memory Palace: A Complete and Thorough Manual, it is meant to be a live example for educational purposes, and nothing more.]

From the dark abyss of waters uncharted, a silver leviathan serpent opens its eyes: large pale pearls almost devoid of pupils or corneas. It slithers powerfully through the deep, where weak vestiges of sunlight just barely glint from its massive, smooth, armor-like, reflecting scales. A vortex is left in the wake of every breath blown from its gills as its arcuate fins frictionlessly slice through the water with more hydro-dynamicity than a bird would fly through air. Its gargantuan skull bobbing to and fro with effortless agility as it moves away from the shadows of the nethermost depths…into the blinding light of the world. It is born unto the warm light of day that stretches out over the world like the arms of a loving father, from its mother—the sea, bursting through the surface with a deep, booming, shrill cry that strikes the earth with a thundering quake.

Norton Memory PalaceWithout wings, it hangs in the air for only a moment, before returning to the blackness of the arctic womb from whence it came.

The echoes of its monstrous cry are carried by the wind, ricocheting from the flaps of a great white hawk that, with wings spread wide if only for a glorious moment, would eclipse the sun—emitting a screech that would reach the heavens before falling onto your ears.

You find yourself standing atop a small glacier of reckoning that emits a slightly purplish hue, admiring the sight of the sea reptile near the horizon, as the last of its tailfin disappears from view, swallowed by the veil of dark ocean water that shimmers with the dazzlement of innumerable diamonds, spread like a glass blanket across the main.

Wooden poles and rusty steel shards of unidentifiable form protrude randomly from the ice. Cold nips at your nose, ears, and fingers but not enough to cause discomfort more than it merely serves to keep you awake—fully rapt in the moment.

You inhale deeply, savoring the crisp winds that blow from the north beyond.

You exhale slowly; a thick wisp of crystal grey vapor leaves your nostrils like the smoke of a calm and collected fire-breathing dragon.

Snow crunches beneath your feet as you turn around. Not a very far distance from you is a giant rock, almost the size of a small mountain, with a flat top on which stands the figure of what could be a house, but it’s too far up, and away to tell for sure.

The path to the rock is not easy, for the glacier on which you stand is floating in sub-zero water; alas, the pain you’ll feel, should you fall in, would be like a thousand whips cracking all at once, tearing away at your freezing flesh while you’d struggle in desperation for air, before without doubt: the beak of the sea serpent would find you.

Norton Memory PalaceNevertheless, there is a way across: Small slabs of ice of varying jagged shapes and sizes float near each other like natural buoys in the tide, inadvertently creating an unorthodox bridge between where you are, and where you could go.

You carefully step down to the first shard, only to nearly fall off in sudden fright at this realization: there is a dead body entombed within the ice, within each buoy yet—that you’ve no choice but to cross if you are to find shelter.

Aghast, you narrow your eyes, wincing in awe as you witness the horrified expression of agony that is eternally locked into the cadaver’s face—he who was surely once a brave Viking warrior, but one who was not granted safe passage through these lands. His body is clad appropriately for the weather in brown animal fur, the hide of which turned grey to your eyes by the distortion of light in the ice that entombed him, like a murky glass coffin.

His flesh is flushed purplish-white with achromasia and frostbite. Coagulated blood had pooled underneath his skin in random and unnatural areas of his arms, hands, and face in swollen lumps, for some parts of his body had frozen faster than others upon dying a slow and tormenting death.

Shining brilliantly at his side, perfectly preserved in the sunlight is his sword, beautifully made, clean, and radiant. Surely, still sharp.

What also seems perfectly preserved are his long locks of blond hair and blue eyes. His blond matted locks are held still in a chaotic torrent. His eyes still seem radiant, as if they still withheld a soul—a lost soul that would never reach Valhalla, eternally doomed to this watery grave.

It blinked.

You snap your gaze away at that, lest his trapped soul would possess your own. You make the decision to carry onward, stepping tenderly upon each ice buoy: the bridge of lost souls. You pray not to slip and become either one of them or food for the nearby sea monster—for you refuse to look down.

Somehow, you make it to the foot of the great rock, making a final daring jump from the last remaining buoy. You put a hand on either knee, panting in relief as you take a moment to close your eyes, appreciating the fact that you’re still alive.

You open them.

Norton Memory PalaceA grunt escapes your lips as you involuntarily clench your abdomen: you stand before a wolf.

The wolf’s fur is white, and its eyes are dark brown, dark enough to be thought black at first glance. At first, you’re not exactly sure what to make of the wolf, because it neither growls nor bares its teeth at you; on the contrary: such a magnificent beast merely stares at you, sitting in absolute silence. So far, it shows neither fear nor malice, barren of any intent to strike or even run.

Your face is merely inches away from its own. Your breathing stops. You are unsure of how to defend yourself against it. It gazes into your eyes without sound or emotion.

After a tense moment of silence, the wolf hops away, trotting to the foot of a path that leads up the rock. It turns its head around, at you. You suddenly realize that the wolf is not your enemy; in fact, it is merely a threshold guardian that has merely been waiting for you, and only means to lead you to your destination.

Upon scaling the rock with the wolf as your guide, you find yourself before two flights of stone steps, separated by a single flat landing. On either side of the landing, there are lit torches in rusted steel holders. Their fires burn steadily, without interruption from the frost, fueled by charcoal and thick wooden shards over reddish-orange embers that are emitting slithering trails of smoke that would rise until it disappeared into the sky as its color would match the ashen color of the clouds. Before either of the two torches, there was built small square platforms; upon one of them resides a wolf, a twin of the one you followed.

The steps rose from the snow, ending just before a large house. The house is an upside-down longship built upon wooden stands and all the makings of architecture that would fortify it as a habitable home. The curvature of the ship would serve well for rain or snowfall that would slide down to the ground, overlapping rectangular slits of darkly tinted mosaic glass that each together contributed to one giant artistic depiction of Nordic men in battle with a dragon. To look at one piece of glass alone would not give you the full picture; they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The wolf who led you trots ahead of you, up to its respective spot opposite the other wolf. Both stand watchful guard over the door.

You find yourself stepping out of the snow and off the rock, onto the first stone step. You make your way up the stairs, between the two torches and majestic white wolves sitting atwain.

Norton Memory PalaceYou walk underneath of a wooden arch with the design of lions etched into it. Reaching the double door, you unhinge a rusted brass slide lock. Instantly, your body is engulfed by comforting heat, resonating from a fire pit just before you, in the center of a grand hall. Surrounding the fire is a rectangular dinner table, on which there lay all manner of delicious foods, ranging from fruits to cakes. Roasting over the fire is a boar; its flesh made crispy and golden-brown.

Standing to your left is a friendly face, dressed in the gear of an ancient Nordic warrior.

“Hail to thee,” they say to you.

“Where am I?” you ask.

“You are in the Hall of Knowledge,” they respond with a smile, before walking away.

The roof is held by thick wooden pillars from whence long sanguine drapes embroidered with gold threading hang. The floor is made of cobblestone, on which matching crimson rectangular carpet lines the row of wooden chairs of the dining table, donned with dossers.

Shadows dance upon the walls like pixies in jubilee, the room illuminated only by the orange aura of the flames. Hanging from the ceiling, in the center of the room adjacent to each other, are two circlet hearses made of steel that hold slow-burning white candles; a bit of wax hangs from them like icicles from a rooftop gutter, dripping lightly to the floor.

You turn to your right and begin making your way to one end of the great dining hall; you hear the thud of your own footsteps upon the stone as you walk, noticing varying manners of medieval weaponry that decorated the walls: from polished halberds and axes, to swords upon shields and bucklers that were once used in actual combat but now only serve to tell the history of the house, the stories of each great descendant who wielded them in the past. Throughout, there are wooden ambries that within contained fine dining ware, from beautifully painted dishes to goblets,

Throughout, there are wooden ambries that within contained fine dining ware, from beautifully painted dishes to goblets, hanops, and ewers. There are small wooden benches reinforced with steel that you could sit on, but choose not to—for you stand before a declining staircase that leads to a second floor by thirteen wooden stairs that descend from the cobblestone.

At the foot of the stairs, there is a steel-reinforced wooden double door with plating nailed into it in the shape of sea dragons, resembling the one that screeched outside.

The door shuts behind you with metallic clangor, and at last: you find yourself within a comfortable labyrinthine subterranean dwelling, adorned with crimson upholstery that would match the dining hall’s. Inside of this place, there are no openings for any natural light, particularly that of the sun; the only source of light is an array of candles set either along the walls or hanging from the ceilings. You hear the snap, crackle, and pop of all the flames around, smelling the damp odor of the moist rock.

The tenebrous radiance of the cobblestone passage is lined on either side with rooms that extend for as far as you’d will them to: each room is used for the curation of data that you’d like saved in your memory; the order of the rooms resemble the order in which you’d like to remember that information.

Dutifully patrolling the halls of your knowledge is an older woman. She is dressed in an old tunic and dress tailored to be formfitting to the curvature of her body. Her name is Minni, and she is the caretaker of your memories; she serves to keep memories dusted off and defragmented while you’re away, dealing with the harsh everyday demands and stress of the outer world.

Norton Memory Palace“This is the Archive,” she tells you in a polite petite voice, as she migrates from room to room, attending to any moss that may grow in the minute cracks of the walls and ceiling. Or relighting any candles that may burn out, or run out of wax as time goes by, so that you may easily find your memories in the dark. She clears away any bugs, like silverfish that may nibble away at the parchment of the tomes or tokens that hold your memories in order to prevent them from becoming distorted or of lesser quality, ridding each room of any dust or cobwebs that may cloud the storage of your memories and thus your thinking.

She does everything she can to keep your memories fresh, organized, and well-indexed, either up-keeping or discarding what you ask.

She nags you, as if she were your mother, about the importance of returning to this place yourself and often—for she cannot maintain all of your memories on her own; she is growing old. Her bones creek with each step and her joints ache every time she reaches for a high shelf or is forced to lift something heavy. She may drop something and it may crack; if that happens, whatever you are trying to remember will be damaged and incomplete.

She pesters you with maternal worry, saying that there’s no such thing as you visiting often enough to help her, for she is lonely and could always use your company.

At the end of the underground labyrinth, its size limited only by your imagination, you come to a hidden stone door, embedded in the rock face. Only you know how to locate this door; its presence is secret even to Minni..and only you know the secret method of opening that door.

Before either side of the door are two great lions that sit in noble silence, their heads held high with pride; they guard the entrance with vicious claws and teeth extendable by powerful muscles capable of disemboweling any unwanted intruder.

They allow you to pass. The jagged door slides open with astonishing ease, despite its level of security, resembled by course rock that it’s made of and how it disappears into the wall when you’re not around.

Inside, you find yourself in a dark temple. The architecture is gothic, with many stone arches that span the reach of the room, which extends as far as your imagination will allow. The place glows with pale blue light from rectangular windows, stained the color of midnight, on either side. Hand-sculpted gargoyles, each unique in their own way, crafted with such realism that they appear to be lunging out at you, line either side of where you can walk.

Norton Memory PalaceThe shadows in the room seem caste by weak candles that drip their wax into bullhorns that are decorated with dark sapphire jewels and hang from the walls. The shadows move up and down and along the walls in a most unnatural way, incongruent with the flickering of the candles. The shadows are alive, and welcome you into their dark abode with deep guttural echoes of the Gregorian- or Mongolian-like chant of an ominous tongue that you can’t understand, and can only barely hear at first if you listen closely. A single drum beats from chasms unfound, and the longer you stay within this forsaken place, the more likely you are to be overtaken by the will of such shadows, the forbidden intent of your id, sexual desires, and the hauntings of your past. They are the demons of your mind, and in this place, upon flat alters lie the tokens of memories, guilt, repressions, scars, and all manner of dark and forbidden thoughts that you wish you could get rid of…but can’t.

…because they are an undeniable part of who you are, and to try to rid yourself of them, to run from them is only to imbue them with more power. You at least keep them in control here, where you can return to this temple for introspection: the reflection of your wrongdoings, hedonism and debauchery, along with past hurts from whence you can derive fruits of serenity and wisdom in order to prevent such occurrences from ever happening again.

Norton Memory PalaceSuddenly, you realize that the lions outside of the temple are just as responsible for keeping the demons locked inside and under control as they are for keeping intruders out. It is their duty to make sure that you do not forget your pride, the code of honor that you stand for, and that the demons do not break free, corrupting your mind, heart, and soul…which would make you become someone or something that you don’t want to be, if not for yourself, then for the greater good of others.

The shadows creep closer still, and closer…and closer.

You loathe returning here to face them, to confront them. They too know it, bidding you a maliciously ridiculing welcome. They taunt you with vile snickering: poking fun at your deepest insecurities and scars, while tempting you to fall from your ideology or path in life.

…but you must return here, accepting them yet showing them that they are not in control, that all of the power of your consciousness belongs to you and you alone—that you are the king here, the emperor, and not a single one of them or anyone or anything anywhere both in your mind and in the outer world can challenge your rule. You acknowledge that they only have the power that you grant them, no matter how much they beckon for you to fall.

You dislike and even fear this place, but your courage holds, enabling you to face what you fear within yourself, what you hate within yourself, what you’ve done to others and to yourself as you’ve progressed through life. But to dwell too long on any one particular devil is to allow another to sneak up behind you and overwhelm you in the dark.

You cross through the temple of darkness, this hell of imagination and memory, passing each alter of pain, each stone monument of monstrosity making your way to the end of the corridor to a mirror. In this mirror, you see yourself, and the demons that are closing in, right behind you. They do not want you to leave; they revel in your misery, your mental anguish and inner torment. They beckon you to stay; you see in the mirror that one reaches out from behind you with a long spindly finger.

You see it, but pay no acknowledgement to it as you walk through the mirror—its glass suddenly enveloping your entire body as if it were liquid.

For a moment, you enter the void of yourself, a world of mirrors in which infinite space is compartmentalized by a 360-degree room of one-way mirrors that are all turned to face each other.

Norton Memory PalaceYou continue walking forward, until the next mirror in front of you envelops you as another liquid door.

After completing the transition through the small world of mirrors, you find yourself outside, standing between two other great silent lions who stand guard of this back entrance. You are at the top of a mountain that you must have traveled through when you went through the underground archive and temple of darkness.

Just beyond you, you see that you are at cloud level, overlooking the vastness of beautiful woodland and a purplish-blue meadow below; the ashen sky holds the peaks of other mountains in view, blocking the horizon like jagged titans. You could reach out and touch the clouds if you so wished; the air is thin and your lungs are heavy.

In the distance, in the shadow of the mountains on the horizon, you see the silhouette of a winged dragon flying in the clouds, toward the meadow.

Before you is a thick archaic ruinous bridge that has been destroyed by thousands of years of exposure to the elements. Moss, mushrooms, and patches of grass grow from its cracks. The sound of water fills your ears as you realize that the bridge on which you stand is protecting you from the strong current of a waterfall.

The water itself is pure, clean, and blue—falling from beneath the remnants of the bridge.

You gather your courage, and jump.

You fall for what seems like forever, through a cloud, and almost begin to believe that you have just jumped to your death, but you land in a harmless pool deep enough to safely break your fall, carved out of the bedrock by the erosion of the waterfall.

Norton Memory PalaceYou find yourself in a forest sanctuary as the rapids carry you away. The area around you is sprucing, abundant with healthy plants, herbs, and pine trees that line either bank of the river. You are soaking wet, though enjoying the ride noticing that on each tree you pass, there lies some sort of symbol embedded in the bark. Each symbol is a file of your memory, something you wanted to remember separately from whatever information you saved in the underground labyrinth of the Archive. As the river moves you through the forest, the order of each passing tree reflects the order in which you wanted to remember whatever information.

The river goes on for as long as you will it to; its depths are bountiful with glowing fish whose proteins radiate an eerie blue and green light in the dark, with a moving beauty akin to aurora borealis.

When you will it to, the river lessens to a mere stream as you find yourself exiting the forest sanctuary, and entering the purplish-blue meadow that you saw at the top of the mountain, before you jumped from its cliff.

You realize that the purplish color that was blurry from clouds was actually a field of blooming wild lavender flowers.

Breaking away from the stream, there is a dirt path that cuts through the flowers with a rickety wooden signpost that reads the name of each path you can take. The guardian of this land is the dragon that you saw before you jumped from the cliff. He bids you hello with a deep ancient voice.

He tells you that his name is Leiðbeinanda, and his title is Keeper of the Code. While you are here, it is his duty to advise you in matters of the heart and mind with archaic wisdom that can only be understood from the fields of inner peace, for there, in this state of mind, you have the balance necessary to think rationally and logically for all ambitions and questions of existentialism.

He pulls in his great wings and spins to an impressive halt upon the ground, quaking the very earth beneath your feet as his massive body does so.

“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter,” he says to you, as the earth settles from the weight of his landing. “Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself. A quote from Miyamoto Musashi.”

He can only see out of one eye, for the other is blind and pearl-colored like the sea dragon at the beginning of your adventure, with a jagged scar running down it through his cheek. Vertebrae bones spike from the base of his massive skull, all the way down to his long intimidating tail. His wings are a bit tattered, from his head are two horns that curve in and then outward away from his face—one of them was broken.

Leiðbeinanda could take you with his tongue and swallow you with a single gulp, or burn you to nothingness with the fire of his breath, but instead, he says:

“You have nothing to fear from me, young one.”

…as he looks down at you with the paternal kindness of a loving father, or grandfather.

“Come. Let us go to the code runes.”

You oblige him, as he humbles his impressive wings and begins to walk alongside you, on a path that the sign post reads: Code Runes.

“You can add as many guiding arrows and dirt paths as you like,” he tells you, “for these are the fields of inner peace…only accessible to those who would overcome their demons. You must go through them first, in order for me to allow you passage through here. On these plains you can do anything, anything at all: from practicing martial arts, asking me for advice, to simply being here for the sake of escaping physical pain. No matter what you do here, I’ll watch over you. Each path you either take or create here in your own mind can lead to a place or clearing that serves its own purpose, suited to your liking.”

He went on, “The stream of the river from whence you first entered this meadow continues north, eventually dispersing into a delta that flows back into the ocean, where Iris resides.”

“Iris?” you ask.

“Yes, you didn’t see her upon coming here? She is the guardian of the outer realm, the link between this world, and the one in which your physical body resides.”

“…I was afraid of her…”

“Pah! What for? At worst, she would ferry you back to the glacier of reckoning. No guardian poses a threat to you in this world, sire. We all submit obeisance to you, my king. We exist to serve you, so that you in turn serve others. A good king is truly the first servant of the land, foremost to his people. He is respected by the people not because of his rank or blood, but because he should suffer more than anyone in the kingdom, bearing the burden and fears that his people do not have to. They serve him to serve them. Live by this philosophy, and I and the other guardians shall serve you eternally: providing you strength when you are weak, light of wisdom when you are lost in darkness, and the reminder to always conduct yourself with honor, even if all entire outer world would misunderstand you. Serve them, and we shall always serve you. We dragons represent the year that you were born, the Chinese year of the dragon. The lions who guard you from your demons represent your month of birth, being July. And the wolves, they represent your totem, being a nomadic, majestic, and powerful spirit that travels, spreading stories of knowledge and wisdom for the greater good of the entire world.”

Norton Memory PalaceYou walk for as long as you talk, mainly listening to the wisdom of the fatherly dragon.

To the east, there lies a mountain range of blank lands unknown, infinite space for you to build upon with your imagination over time. To the west, there lies the mountain that holds the halls of knowledge within, along with the temple of darkness. Beyond that is more infinite space. To the south, there is the forest sanctuary from whence the waterfall and glowing rapids carried you.

You travel north, passing Lavender Meadow, until you reach a rocky beach, where twenty-three smooth 20 ft. tall by 8 ft. wide stone tablets stand. The tablets are akin to Stonehenge, on which Nordic tribal engravings are carved into each rock, each symbol resembling a code of your ethos.

Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.

He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.

As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.

You can find his marketing strategy firm’s blog at OMIFirm.com. Follow him on LinkedIn and Quora.

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How To Create A Memory Palace: Using Norton Mnemonics

NOTE: This is actually the second article in a series of three. To read the first article which sheds more light on this one, click here. Have you ever wondered…

NOTE: This is actually the second article in a series of three. To read the first article which sheds more light on this one, click here.

Have you ever wondered why it’s virtually impossible to forget how to ride a bike? How one can choose not to ride a bike for many years, and then get it back within minutes, if the skill was ever even lost at all? The reason is because of your associative memory. In this article, I’ll be sharing an algorithmic method that I’ve invented, spawned from the necessity of needing to remember long reams of Chinese poetry, and then convert it into the method can be used to remember any quote or proverb of any language on demand.

What Is The Associative Memory?

PsychologyDictionary.org defines associative memory as:

  1. A memory of a past event or place that may occur by recalling something associated with it.
  2. Retrieval of a memory of a stimulus or behavior in relation to the presentation of an associated stimulus or response.

It’s so difficult to forget how to ride a bike because of how many of your senses go into the act. Think of how many muscles are involved in riding a bike, the feeling of lactic acid that builds up in your muscles as you pedal, the vestibular glands in your ears that affect your balance, the slight sound of wind resistance against your earlobes, the breeze against your face as you move, the endorphins that are released from the pleasurable experience, etc.

All of these things happening in unison act as a unique mental password that engages the active patterns of electrical signals from the brain to moving parts of the body. When in combination together, they could only ever amount to one specific memory: riding a bike. Because the experience is so unique to us when compared to your average physical experience of movement, that so much of our neurology and physiology are involved in the process that it’s typically known to be impossible to forget how to ride a bike, once first learned and mastered.

But what if you could take advantage of that by taking control of exactly what makes an experience unique to you, and to do it at will for virtually anything that you want to learn or remember? It seems as if there is no one truly efficient algebraic algorithm for remembering everything, but there are individual ones for optimizing what we remember based upon our individual preferred senses (touch, taste, sight, etc.).

How A Norton Mnemonic Works

Not that unlike the Dominic System, a “Norton Mnemonic” works by utilizing a key for mental images; however, while the Dominic System is used for remembering numbers, a Norton mnemonic is used for remembering passages or excerpts of text, verbiage, or prose of any language in the world, on demand. This is accomplished by mentally stimulating as many senses as possible in the process of memorizing whatever the target material may be. With enough training, one can theoretically learn to recite an entire college textbook, word for word, even if the language that the textbook was printed in isn’t the student’s native.

The reason why I call my method “a” Norton Mnemonic, or add an “s” to the end of “Mnemonic” to pluralize it, is because even though the algorithm for developing the “associative key” may be the same for any language (depending upon the use of consonants and vowels), individual keys should be created using the algorithm for each individual language to remember things properly in the exact way that they’re meant to be pronounced.

So it’s not the algorithm that changes, but the associative key that’s developed from the algorithm that’s unique to each individual user of the method. For example, if a person speaks four languages, they’ll have four different keys to train and remember, produced by the same algebraic formula. However, a weakness of it is that it relies solely upon the Romanization of sounds into phonetic letters; it’s not used for remembering pictorial languages like the actual Chinese or Japanese writing system. In other words, by using this method, you’ll be able to speak the language, but you won’t be able to read the language. However, someday, I may invent a method for doing that as well.

This method works for several reasons:

  1. It utilizes the sense of hearing by encoding vowel sounds and consonants
  2. It utilizes the sense of sight by stimulating the associative memory to associate each sound with a mental picture unique to the user
  3. It utilizes the hippocampus of the brain by storing the mental picture in a memory palace (click here to view my article about that)

What Is An Associative Key?

An associative key is a writable innovation of mine for encoding or translating consonants and vowel sounds. For what I’ve done in creating one for Chinese is take the Chinese alphabet and integrate it into the grammatical or structural pattern of a present-perfect English sentence.

Here is a video describing what the Chinese alphabet is:

Even though using this method is guaranteed to significantly boost most people’s memory, there is no substitute for hard work. Therefore…

Practice! Practice! Practice!

It’s going to require practice and dedicated time to remember each associative key for the phonetics of each language. How long a passage a person can remember also depends upon practice; it’s a perishable skill like any other.

Here is a picture of my associative key for Chinese:

Norton Mnemonic Associative Key for Mandarin Chinese

Norton Mnemonic Associative Key for Mandarin Chinese

Norton Mnemonic Associative Key for Mandarin Chinese

Notice that all of the initials (or consonant sounds) are nouns, and all of the finals are verbs. Why will be explained later in this article. In order for the algorithm to work, you need to make sure that all consonant sounds for every language are always associated to tangible nouns, and vowels are associated to intangible verbs. If one chooses an intangible noun for a consonant sound, then one should at least have a tangible association to the noun. For example, in the picture, you can see that I associate “t” with “time”, but the word “time” is a vague, abstract, intangible noun that I use to associate

For example, in the picture, you can see that I associate “t” with “time”, but the word “time” is a vague, abstract, intangible noun that I use to associate to “t” sounds (you can’t hold or touch time); however, whenever I think of the word “time” I think of an analog round-face ticking clock that I can picture as a physical object that I can actually touch if I were to want to pick it up and hold it (while free-roaming the depths of my memory palace).

This is absolutely vital, because what’s going to happen is that the algorithm will churn out present-simple grammatical sentences that form mental pictures. These mental pictures are then saved into one’s memory palace. If the consonant sounds are given any other associations besides tangible nouns, either the sentence won’t make grammatical sense, or the picture will be abstract (which makes it more difficult to solidify in the imaginary world of the memory palace).

If you need help with selecting nouns, I recommend this website: Noun1.com

Use of this method does require a limited understanding of algebra, but more importantly: imagination.

When I was younger, I was ridiculed greatly because of the way I would talk to imaginary friends; when I was an adult, I was ostracized even harder, and understandably so; I’m no victim. Of course, it must be wierd for the average person to see some dude mumbling to himself in different pitches in often inaudible ways. It’s perfectly audible to me, but not to them, and because they can’t see what’s going on from the inside, of course it would seem strange to them.

At first, it was a coping mechanism for dealing with psychological pain, but after intense therapy, it’s no longer a coping mechanism more than it is a useful memorization technique that’s just a natural part of my memory palace, that actually gives me a great advantage in my working and long-term memory.

Yes, I’m aware that I still come off as eccentric, but if our willpower holds true, refusing to allow chastisement, lack of a social group’s approval, or the process of growing up to bury or destroy our inner children, we can wield the power of the imagination to do great things, and overcome great psychological hurdles.

For me, it was not allowing the world to convince me that my imaginary friend Nova, that I carried on into adulthood, was a bad thing to be ashamed of. But lo’ and behold: this method only works by utilizing the imagination in the same way that I use it to speak to Nova (or other imaginary beings that I’ve created in my head), greatly aiding in my (and hopefully yours, if this inspires you to do the same) ability to learn any language at will.

And remember, though I use Chinese as my example in this article, this method can be used for remembering or aiding in learning any language in the world, in record time.

The Quirks Of The Chinese Consonants

Consonants (primarily known as “initials”, in the Chinese associative key presented above) like “q” are not associated with nouns like “queen” (the first word that comes to mind when I think of the letter “q”). That is because, in Chinese, “q” is usually pronounced in a way that is closer to a “ch” sound in English.

Remember, it’s the sense of hearing that I’m engaging, before the importance of the spelling itself. So originally, it was associated with the noun “champ” with which I associated an image of Rocky Balboa.

Instead, however, what is closer to my heart is a picture of Emperor Qin (pronounced “chin”) who was one of the main characters in the movie Hero, starring Jet Li, which was a highly influential movie that influenced my personal philosophy by utilitarianism.

Emperor Qin from the movie: Hero

Emperor Qin from the movie: Hero

If I were to associate “q” with a noun like “queen” then I’ll likely remember that the Chinese word I want to recite begins with a “q”, but that doesn’t mean that I’d pronounce it correctly when speaking. I’d have to add an extra step to remember that a written “q” in Chinese pinyin yields the “ch” sound, when I could just skip that encumbering, redundant, and unnecessary mental step altogether by just associating a “ch” noun to the “q” in the associative key.

Likewise for the letter “x”, which, in Chinese, is pronounced with a “sh” sound in English. I chose the word “Sherlock” which makes me envision the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes.

“Zh” is pronounced closer to a “j” sound, so I associated it with the mental image of a horned “j”ack rabbit.

For “Ch” I thought of Winston “Ch”urchill.

The Quirks Of The Chinese Vowels

The problem with Chinese vowels (primarily known as “finals”), is that they are virtually completely unlike English if pronounced correctly. So, I found that the extra step of word association that I excluded with consonants was indeed needed with the vowels.

All of the finals are associated with verbs.

For the more difficult final sounds (like “ai”, and “ou”) I had no choice but to use associative verbs that didn’t begin with those letters; however, with diligent practice with the Leitner System for memory, I was able to overcome that hurdle.

The Four Tones Of Mandarin

Unlike English, spoken Mandarin Chinese uses four tones to differentiate word meanings: high rise (first), rising (second), falling rising (third) and falling (fourth); therefore, four words may be spelled the same way in pinyin, the Romanization of the Chinese characters, but mean completely different things depending upon which tone is used to pronounce them. By using the wrong tone you may be saying something completely different.

I associate the four tones with different predicate variable situations. If the tone of the word is the first, then there is no predicate added. If the tone of the word is the second one, then I imagine the scene of the present-simple sentence with the add-on of: while climbing a mountain.

For example:

  1. Bruce Lee attacks = bā → 八 → eight
  2. Bruce Lee attacks while climbing a mountain = bá → 拔 → discharge
  3. Bruce Lee attacks while skateboarding off a ramp = bǎ → 把 → to hold grasp, or control
  4. Bruce Lee attacks while falling off a building = bà → 爸 → father

How I personally save these images in my head is in a personal library underneath of the keep in Himnariki, my personal memory palace. They’re saved as imaginary polaroid photographs that are indexed in drawers in imaginary little rooms that are maintained by Minni, an imaginary maternal character that I created that you’ll understand if you click on the link.

In order to facilitate memorizing and locating the memory, I use the following formula:

If e = excerpt, s = syllables, c = consonant, v = vowel, t = tone, m = memory palace location, p = predicate

e ≈ ∑ (m_1[c + v]+pt) ∝ s

i = 1

The index being 1, while the stopping point is a variable (let’s say, “x”) that’s relevant to the text or data in question, that one’s trying to remember.

In simple English, the excerpt you want to remember is approximately equal to the summation of the syllables being proportional to the variables of each consonant and vowel being combined together within the matrix of where ever it may be within the memory palace’s location (where you are in the map of your mind) as relevant to the predicative tone.

If the exponent t equals 1, meaning that there is only one tone, then the summation is unaffected. However, in the case of Mandarin Chinese (having four tones), “t” would equal whatever number of the tone it would be (1 being neutral, which leaves the meaning unaffected, the rest changing the meaning of the word accordingly).

I figured the mathematical application of the term “matrix” was relevant here, because what is a memory palace if not a contained matrix of reality in one’s own mind? 🙂

Putting It To The Test

Norton Mnemonic Associative Key for Mandarin Chinese

This is an ancient and very famous poem written by Li Bai, who was basically the Chinese equivalent to Shakespeare; it’s about missing home. It’s called: 静夜思 “A Quiet Night Thought”.

床前明月光
In front of my bed, there is bright moonlight.
疑是地上霜
It appears to be frost on the ground.
举头望明月
I lift my head and gaze at the August Moon,
低头思故乡
I lower my head and think of my hometown.

I won’t encode the entire poem in this article, just the first line:

床前明月光

Which is saved in my memory palace as a Polaroid picture of:

Winston Churchill attacks with soldiers while climbing up a mountain against Emperor Qin while he illustrates himself in a painting climbing up a mountain with a monster who is illustrating a yogi eating a girl alive who is attacking him.

Outlandish, right?

But the wackier the picture the better, because abnormal things are easier to remember. See how that works? I don’t expect that mneumonic to mean much of anything to you, or perhaps you may think that it’s highly difficult to understand; however, it’s incredibly easy for me because I used all imagery that’s already floating around in my subconscious mind because of what I like to read, watch, etc. The statement is coded in a signature way that is personal to me.

Written out, the sentences are actually longer than the text that you’re trying to remember; however, it’s not about writing out the text, it’s about saving a single picture or image in your mind, at which it only takes a single glance at to remember what it is that you’re trying to remember.

In order to prevent this method from being any harder than it has to be, when you’re making your associative key, just do the same thing: use subconscious images that come first to mind whenever you see a letter and use that as your association. Using the algorithm will deliberately create crazy sounding sentences, but those sentences will generate images personal to you that’s virtually impossible for you to forget.

Using this method, all I have to do is take a few moments, close my eyes, travel back into my memory palace, find the picture, hold the picture, look at the picture, then read off what I see to myself, producing the Chinese syllables that are necessary to recite the entire passage. How you do this is, again, entirely unique to you, because it’s your mind, your imagination.

In Conclusion

I cannot stress enough that this method will not work unless you commit your custom associative key to memory. That shouldn’t take too long if you’re using imagery that’s personal to you; however, it still takes practice.

Memory is a skill.

Naturally, it will always make the experience easier, regardless of whether you’re using the mnemonic for Chinese to English, Italian to English, Russian to English, French to English, Japanese to English, or even English to English, etc. if you actually practice the language itself and know how to properly pronounce the words, and know their meaning to the best of your ability. Again, this is definitely not a panacea, a quick-fix for everyone’s linguistic dreams…it’s merely an aid that can be used for the demographic of people willing to use it.

Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.

He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.

As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.

You can find his marketing strategy firm’s blog at OMIFirm.com. Follow him on LinkedIn and Quora.

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How To Create A Memory Palace: A Complete And Thorough Manual

To design a “Memory Palace” is to utilize a method of memorization first used by the ancient Greeks and Romans (also called, “The Method of Loci“) for curating great amounts…

To design a “Memory Palace” is to utilize a method of memorization first used by the ancient Greeks and Romans (also called, “The Method of Loci“) for curating great amounts of information in the brain for easy recollection. It employs a power drawn from the fusion of the imagination and spatial memory, which is responsible for the recording of information about one’s environment in the form of a cognitive map that one can navigate through as if it were an actual part of the physical world.

Hippocampus_small

The Hippocampus

One’s imagination isn’t drawn from one particular part of the brain, but all of them combined. If you were to imagine a math problem, you’d be activating your prefrontal cortex; if you were to imagine yourself practicing martial arts, your motor cortex would be activated; if you were to imagine a beautiful scene, you’d be working with your occipital cortex.

The hippocampus is what humans and animals rely on in order to navigate their way through the world. It’s the part of the brain that enables you the ability to remember how to walk through your own house, and find your way home if you’re lost in the woods.

The creation of a memory palace is the creation of a place in your mind that’s whole enough in detail for you to navigate in your dreams or in meditative deep thought.

…You may remember the movie, Inception.

In Inception, as depicted in the clip above, it was the objective of a team to infiltrate the minds of target individuals in order to steal or alter people’s thoughts or memories. The targets’ memories were personified in tokens, objects, or walking talking characters completely unique to the respective individual. It was the job of the architect to design entire dream worlds, realistic enough for the target to mistake as the real world, in order to be tricked into releasing private information that would otherwise never be known to the outside world.

Now, this movie, however brilliantly written it may be, is completely a work of fiction;  however, the concept of materializing thoughts and memories in one’s brain is actually a very real concept that has been used by scholarly savants for hundreds of years.

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Charles Augustus Milverton, a nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, sitting in a chair while accessing his memory palace, called Appledor.

Why it’s not taught in industrialized education is beyond me. For the use of memory palaces could and would revolutionize the way students learn information. Almost every student would get a 4.0 GPA if they were taught at an early age to funnel the output of each individual part of the brain that would make the imagination, in order to create a dream world in which they could freely roam and access memories, made tangible in a way unique to them, able to be navigated because of their hippocampus. Now, of course, simply because one may improve the performance of their brain with a memory palace doesn’t guarantee that they’ll always get perfect grades, because that also depends on a myriad of different circumstances, such as their motivation to study, their mental health, and the encouragement of their surrounding environment.

In the BBC version of Charles Augustus Milverton, for example, a fictional character who is one of the main nemeses of the iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes: within his head, he created a vast library of information that he calls: Appledor, a place that he designed and can walk around in, the same way that the architects in Inception created their dream worlds. In Appledor, he saves all of the private information of people he meets, particularly powerful people in governmental positions, in the form of paper files inside of his head, that he uses to blackmail others into doing what he wants.

He would never forget whatever information he saved in his memory palace, because he would save them in a mnemonic order that he would review every time he revisited his palace for a casual stroll, every time he sat down in the pure white room as depicted in the picture on the right.

They actually have national and international memory competitions for real people who utilize the method of loci, awards are given to whoever can remember the most amount of information in the shortest amount of time. The method has also been used by veterans who have been prisoners of war, who kept their sanity during torture by creating the house of their dreams in their heads, one brick at a time.

Creating My Memory Palace

The moment I heard about the memory palace, I was all over it. I wanted to learn how to create my own immediately, so that I could become like one of my idols: Sherlock Holmes. But surprisingly, there is very little information to be found on the Internet about how to actually build one. You could go to websites like wikiHow, but when I visited, the information I read there merely told me what I already knew from the surface, not actually how to do it in sufficient enough detail. However, I aim to remedy that with this article, if you continue reading, providing what I couldn’t find on the internet in hopes that it will help you to create your own.

It took about six months for me to fully design my own memory palace, with many failed attempts before I had managed to finish one. Unlike the award-winning mind-athlete in the New York Times article referenced above, I didn’t have any mentors for this endeavor; I was completely on my own, because no one around me in my respective social group even knew what a memory palace was, that it was real, or even what it was capable of if they had made one, among many other questions.

I had to teach myself, through trial and error, as if I were tasked to navigate the seven seas without a compass.

Obstacles

Teaching oneself anything in life requires constant vigilance and being honest with oneself; it requires one to believe in oneself, despite endless failure, and to constantly question one’s own reality for the sake of identifying any unseen or unacknowledged obstacles that may be impeding self-growth. Here are the obstacles that I went through while struggling with the creation of my palace.

1. Music

Whenever I want to imagine something, it’s always easier to when I drown out the outside world with music. Personally, I’ve evolved from the heavy metal chaos of my youth, to being in favor of classical greats like Mozart, and neo-medieval music like Estampie (whose music was featured in the film, Kingdom of Heaven, a wonderful historical movie that I recommend everyone in the world to watch the Director’s Cut of at least once in their lifetimes), The Moon & The Nightspirit, and other primarily instrumental or cultural folk music of similar genres that I listen to every single day.

When I listen to the music, the grand scenes that I’m able to create in my mind are spectacular and fantastical; there is a story-line set in my mind to every single song or set of songs that I listen to.

Music is what keeps my mind sane during times of idleness, and gives me an instant boost to my creativity, and cognitive power. All of my mental abilities are enhanced when the right song is played, from visualization to motor skills of reflex and dexterity. So, I thought that music was a necessity to generating the creativity I needed.

I wasn’t wrong, per se; I was most certainly able to imagine vast landscapes filled with all sorts of dramatic action, but I couldn’t freely roam the territory for some reason. I couldn’t fully employ my hippocampus, because it would appear that I was creating linear fantasies by utilizing my occipital and motor cortexes that were controlled by the beat of the music.

In simpler terms: I could engineer great designs in my head, but I was distracted by the beat.

…and no matter what I did, I couldn’t be free in my own mind. I had to be honest with myself about the fact: in order for me to ascend to the next cognitive level, I had to relinquish the music.

At least, at first.

It was then that I began to realize that, for me, it was better to create the memory palace in stages. I had all of the tools necessary to create a captivating palace, but I was using them in the wrong order. Music definitely has its place in the creation of my memory palace, but it’s not what I should have been depending on to fuel my imagination at its source. Music, instead, should be the icing on the cake; the basic design of the world should already be finished before I put any music on, then I can let the music work its magic for creating hyper-realistic detail, as if I were adding graphic layers to the virtual world of a fully 3D free-roaming computer game.

My dependence on, or addiction to, music was holding me back, and I had to admit to myself that I had to liberate myself from this drug in order to attain what I wanted. For so long, I hadn’t even realized that I was actually addicted, by the dopamine that would be released into my brain every time I would experience the climax of a song which led to the climax of a story-line or fantasical depiction in my mind’s eye, which got me hooked.

Once I went through the 12-stage recovery process of liberation from my addiction to music, I went through a period where I couldn’t visualize much. I still listen to music of course, but I’m no longer dependent upon music as the source of my creative and cognitive ability. Learning to visualize without music was like learning how to walk again.

I overcame this by exercising my mind in blindfold chess, something I didn’t even think was a big deal until I posted the following video of me playing against my wife, and people sent me messages applauding what some people would think were superhuman abilities.

There’s nothing superhuman about playing blindfold chess, or creating a memory palace; it’s just about understanding basic neuroscience and working out your brain in order to harness or optimize its capabilities accordingly; that’s something anyone can do with daily practice or training.

NOTE: You can tell by my hair that this was pre-surgery. This video was made when I was very sick with tumors in my skull.

2. A Lack Of Inspiration

Even after my recovery, I was still bereft of ideas; I had reached a block of sorts, an emotional dissatisfaction with anything that my imagination produced. My first memory palace was something that I was going to visit all the time, probably for the rest of my life; I wanted it to be something that I felt poetically resembled who I am.

So how do you create an entire world…from nothingness?

It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and realized that there was an easier way: Skyrim.

That’s right, Skyrim. The cult-classic fantasy role-playing game that has taken the world by storm and revolutionized a generation of gaming.

I came to the epiphany that as a gamer of free-roaming 3D worlds like the aforementioned, my spatial memory and processing ability was already through the roof; I just hadn’t realized it and was mentally blocking myself by trying to reinvent the wheel, so-to-speak.

Anyone who’s played Skyrim thoroughly, or any open-world game (like Grand Theft Auto V, for instance) and can traverse the layout of the game without needing the built-in map, has already unconsciously dedicated the map to memory with a fully exercised hippocampus.

With a little focus and practice, one can fully develop what they remember from the games they play as a memory palace for storing loads of information.

If you’re an avid gamer, your spatial intelligence is already through the roof. Just use the maps that are saved in your brain from the games that you play!

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This counter-intuitively makes playing Skyrim (or any game like it) an unorthodox but fantastic method of studying for exams! As long as I played the game for the sake of dedicating the entire map to memory, then meditate on that for a few minutes every morning and evening so that I can roam the map freely inside of my mind, I can then use places like the castle of Whiterun for storing answers to tests, and storing anything that I study!

At last, I had figured it out!

It’s just that I had to make sure that I played the game for the sake of building my memory palace, not for the distracting story-line, else I’d procrastinate from my schoolwork.

It’s simple. I just had to pick a place in Skyrim, play it for maybe 20 minutes every morning and 20 minutes every evening, then get off of the computer, meditate on what I saw in order to seal it as an actual place in my mind/memory that I can explore like a dream in my mind, then save whatever information I study where ever I want in the map in my mind, and then revisit it whenever I want in order to remember it.

For example, every room in the castle of Whiterun can be what stores the answer to any test I want.

…and that’s not cheating; that’s just a great method of studying.

I used Dragonsreach for practice, in order to get comfortable with the idea, allowing myself to fall into meditative trances long enough to become comfortable with and perfect my inner mental architectural skills, before I took on the herculean task of building my own original memory palace from scratch. I borrowed certain small elements from Skyrim as a tribute to the game creators for helping to make this major breakthrough in my cognitive abilities, but overall, the arrangement of my memory palace is unique to me and me only.

The Process

Think of your brain as an organic computer. I know it’s not actually a computer, but entertain the hypothetical: If you overload it with a game that has graphics that are too much for your processor or video-card to handle, your computer will overheat and crash.

The same kind of thing will happen to your brain; you could overload yourself with stress and, in the worst case scenario, cause a stroke, and/or get really stressed out.

Think of your short-term memory as the RAM, and your long term memory as the hard-drive. Think of your ability to process data (including, but not limited to, math) as the processor, and your ability to see things as the video-card.

1. Draw The Map

If you try to build your memory palace from the outside-in, you’ll probably fail, unless you’ve got a processor that puts both John Nash and Stephen Hawking combined to shame. You’ll overload your RAM, and overheat your video-card, mentally exhausting yourself, which is what I’d consider to be a crash.

Instead, I endorse that you’ll find it much easier to create it from the inside-out, starting with the bare-bones skeletal structure. I did this by drawing it on a whiteboard.

IMG_0337

It’s imperative that you draw it out like this on some kind of whiteboard or paper, so that you don’t overload your short-term memory trying to remember everything that you imagine. Writing or drawing is the act of clearing your mental cache; it’s able to leave your RAM once it’s left on the paper, freeing up valuable mental resources you could use to visualize other things: the next step, for example.

Needless to say, you don’t actually need to be good at drawing; you just have to put what you visualize down in a way that you’ll uniquely be able to remember it. You’re not trying to impress anyone; you’re only trying to aid your own memory. What you draw is for you, and for you only.

What you draw is for you, and for you only.

2. Write A Super Detailed Walk-Through Of Your Palace

When I say “write”, I mean write. There’s something about the process of using a pen and paper to inscribe each individual word of description that seals it in your long-term memory far easier. You’ll also realize that during the time it takes for you to write every hyper-realistic detail of your palace on paper, you’ll be able to think of and/or visualize new things. If what you drew as a map on the whiteboard or piece of blank paper is the skeleton, think of your first written rough draft of your walk-through as the skin, the muscles, and inner organs.

I’ve provided a perfect example of my own memory palace walk-through for your reading pleasure, here. You may laugh at the nature of it, but remember: It was written for me and me only. I merely present it publicly in order to present a live example.

I think that you’ll find that physically writing out the tour of your memory palace in detail will be the most tedious part of the process, but the most rewarding. This is when I recommend to use music, since the skeletal structure of your palace is already expressed in the map that you’ve drawn at this point.

It took me two full days of nonstop writing in order to complete the 9-page exhibition of my memory palace. I sacrificed a single weekend by locking myself away in my house, but now that it’s complete, I’ve gained the ability to curate an entire universe of information from any topic of my choosing at will.

…and knowledge = power.

This does not mean that I’m some kind of super genius; it just means that I have a very disciplined and tidy brain that I’m more in control of than the average person. This style of memory palace is superb for long-term recollection; so, when I save things to it, I first break things down to the tiniest details that I possibly can, until I reach the first principles of their nature. Then, I save those first principles to my memory palace, and, in meditation that allows me to explore it, I build off of those first principles.

No matter how well I’m able to remember and figure things out, I’m still limited by concepts like boredom, fatigue, etc. that can negatively impact my performance in school, work, and other areas of life, despite the boost in cognitive ability. This will apply to you as well; this is not a panacea of instant genius.

You’re going to be tempted to write it in past-tense and address yourself in third-person, because that’s how they teach you to write short stories in school; however, don’t. Write it in present-tense, and speak to yourself by addressing yourself as “you” for a very specific mental trick that will be mentioned later in this article. Don’t worry about being thought of as narcissistic; it’s for a hypnotic purpose.

3. Type A Super Detailed Walk-Through Of Your Palace

Typing the second draft of your memory palace on a computer (or, perhaps even a typewriter?) will be like adding the skin and hair on top of the muscles and inner organs. During the editing process, you’ll undoubtedly think of things to add or take away, more details that come to mind.

Typing it is typically less tedious than writing it, and it also forces you to review what you’ve written once more, burning it further into your mental hard-drive, or long-term memory.

4. Make An Audio-Recording Of Your Walk-Through

This is why I said earlier to write your exhibition in present-tense, addressing yourself as “you”. When you make an audio-recording of your walk-through, like an audio-book:

  1. That further irons it into your long-term memory, but better yet…
  2. By adding the music that inspired you to the .mp3 file (or whatever you saved your recording as), you can revisit your palace in intimate detail by listening to the recording; this is vital for defragmenting your memory.

That’s right; I said “defragmenting“. We human beings typically save memories in waves that we forget over time, like a PC that sits for too long that develops errors in its memory.

282929_v1This means, that in order to keep yourself from forgetting sections of your memory palace (or the entire thing altogether) it requires occasional upkeep, exactly the way an actual house would. Each time you visit your memory palace, you can use your finished walk through to re-visualize what you’ve designed. The more information you save in your palace, the more often you’re going to have to revisit it in order to retain everything. For some people, they may only have to meditate for five minutes once a week, once a month, or even once a year or so, depending on how much or little information they save in it.

Each time you visit your memory palace, you can use your walkthrough to re-visualize the foundation of what you’ve designed. The more information you save in your palace, the more often you’re going to have to revisit it in order to retain everything. For some people, they may only have to meditate for five minutes once a week, once a month, or even once a year or so, depending on how much or little information they save in it.

…for the kind of data that I read and put into my mind, it requires at least ten minutes of meditation twice a day, in either the morning or night, because I like to commit entire textbooks to memory.

More realistically though, I actually spend a lot of time in my memory palace, almost as a default of daydreaming and the playlists of music that I usually listen to that trigger the associative memories of it. Because you have to think: You’re basically ironing a fantastical world…in your head…with deliberate repetition. At some point, yes, it will seem like that’s where you just effortlessly and automatically go in your head whenever you drift off from whatever’s happening in the moment that bores you (e.g. a dull teacher).

5. Remember The Information That You Put Into Your Memory Palace With Unique Mathematical Notation

Once you’ve fully created your memory palace, and find yourself satisfied, you’re going to want to remember how to remember all of the data that you want to put into it. Remembering the architecture of your memory palace is one thing; remembering what you put in it is another.

There is an easy-to-learn algebraic notation or algorithm that I’ve designed myself. It’s not mandatory to use, but it can definitely aid you. If you’d like to learn it, click here.

Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.

He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.

As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.

You can find his marketing strategy firm’s blog at OMIFirm.com. Follow him on LinkedIn and Quora.

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