Natural Memory – on Purpose:
● BE RELAXED
● MESS AROUND
For the unnatural process of storing and recalling trivia – in classrooms or offices,
● USE INTELLIGENT MNEMONIC STRATEGIES
Why It Works
When you’re stressed out, it’s hard to learn. Learn the way a little kid does. It’s child’s play.
Think how you feel when you learn to do things you love. You feel alive and well, and every bit of energy you use counts. You’re like a cat, at ease but not passive. All parts of your body and mind work in harmony. Be like that when you study, and you’ll learn and remember as easily as a little kid learns language.
When you study, play the slow movement of a symphony of a composer like Bach, Corelli, Handel, Teleman, Vivaldi – instrumental music preferably. We’re not sure why this works, but the pace is at about that of the alpha rhythms of your brain.
Take a Half-Speed Walk
One step per second (described in my 1/15/13 post) until you feel yourself quieted down.
The idea is to give your conscious mind something to do so that it can’t play distracting self-critical tapes. Your mind and body get a chance to work together harmoniously. Then, what you’re playfully picking up in the left hemisphere of your brain (for most people) can pass over to the non-conscious right side, which creates a meaningful network of interconnected data.
This is where understanding occurs, but it’s also a safe, secure place for storing your data, not randomly but in a network of connections.
Tune Up Your Sensorium
A Great Alternative to the Half-Speed Walk:
Sit in a comfortable chair, play the music, shut your eyes and give your attention to your toes.
As soon as you’re aware of your toes and can actually feel them (without moving them), move your attention back along your feet, your heels, your ankles, and so on.
Once you fully sense your feet, move on, up your legs, up your torso, your arms, the back of your head, until the senses of your whole body are wakened.
Your body will feel tingly all over, and any stress will have drained away.
MAKE MUSIC AND RELAXATION A HABIT.
● MESS AROUND
If you want to store up stuff for later recall, your mind has to find a framework or create one.
Beginning at the beginning is going blindly into the wilderness without a map. Without an overview, any effort to memorize is futile. The circuitry has to be set up. You need a format.
Messing around is another name for formatting.
The rest is pretty much the mess-around strategy I described in my 11/11/12 post for reading, browse, focus, absorb, reinforce.
Play your music and use a relaxation exercise.
You should feel good – comfortable and awake but not tense, no sense of pressure. Then look over the job. Do a pass through. It doesn’t matter where you start. You can move in any direction and pause anywhere, for as long as you like. Let your curiosity guide you. When you feel saturated, take a break.
When you’re ready, come back and do another pass through the whole thing again.
Keep messing around in this fashion until you become aware of the pattern.
Meaning will begin to emerge and take form.
Keep playing with the material.
At some point you will become aware of a pattern taking shape. Gradually you will flesh out your understanding.
Don’t try to memorize anything until you can say, “Yes. I really do understand this.”
If you have no experience with the subject at all, you might feel nervous and inadequate. (little kids would never feel like that, but you may well have suffered through lots of judgmental classrooms over the years that you haven’t got out of your system yet.) So go away for a while. Your nonconscious will be working on it in the meantime.
Keep coming back.
Suddenly It Makes Sense
Seemingly on their own, things that appeared hopelessly vague will suddenly start making sense. Just let it happen. There can be a number of passes through, some long, some short, some superficial, some intense.
Sometimes you may want to interact. Go right ahead.
Try problems, draw pictures, fool around with possibilities.
The total time spent will be no longer than that of typical, fruitless methods, but the results will be amazing. You will have shifted the learning (and storage of data) to your brilliant nonconscious mind, which does this sort of thing effortlessly.
Your conscious and nonconscious programs will be working in harmony, and you will actually feel refreshed.
Browse. Browse. Browse.
● STORE THE TRIVIA
When you feel thoroughly comfortable and familiar with the material and confident that you do understand, then see if there is anything left to memorize. You will find there is hardly anything left to worry about. Without even trying, you will have done most of the memorizing, and the material will be lodged far more permanently in your mind than it would have been with conventional study methods.
In my next post, I’ll describe a couple of ways people have figured out for storing and recalling trivia.