Create Your Own Mind Palace: A Mnemonic Device For The Terribly Forgetful

If you find heredity, age or questionable lifestyle choices have left you wanting in the memory department, take a tip from the Ancient Greeks. Reinvigorate your powers of recollection using the Method of Loci and build yourself a mind palace!

This mnemonic device uses imaginative visualisation to organize and recall information by mentally positioning the thing-to-be-remembered within a well known room, route or building. When the information is again needed, simply take a wander in your mind to the correlating spot and ta-da! Your almost forgotten information awaits.

The origins of the technique are somewhat macabre; it was an ill-fated dinner party in 500 BC that led Greek poet Simonides of Ceos to the observation that abstract information, facts and figures, are far easier to recall when associated with imagery. Just as Simonides excused himself to step outside and receive a message, a freak accident caused the dining room ceiling to fall. The guests were all crushed beyond recognition, but Simonides discovered he was able to identify their earthly remains with ease by visualising their location around the table.

Purists argue that the method works best based on a place that exists in the real world, but that seems a missed opportunity for exercising the imagination. Close your eyes and become an architectural master of the mind. Make it exactly as you wish, as richly detailed as you can muster, and as lavish as you desire. Build secret passages, gardens, chambers and attics. Map, draw and dream it, visualise it while you're waiting for the bus. Allow time to construct and cement the building in your mind.

Then all that's left to do is put it to good use storing all your facts, figures and amusing anecdotes by assigning each to a location or object using visual representation and symbolism. Use ornaments or pets, paintings or musical instruments. The black cat that waits on the third floor landing might tell you a beautiful quote you have been wanting to remember. The creeks of the staircase could bring back images of a childhood dream. The chairs around the fireplace evoke memories of a cosy winter holiday. The more absurd, evocative or emotionally charged the images you conjure, the easier the memories will return.

Once you have mastered this exceptional technique, your memory will neglect to fail you, and a beautiful mind palace you will have.

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