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How to Unlock Your Memory’s Potential Using Sherlock Holmes’s Mind Palace

by Giorgos Pantsios about a year ago in how to
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Used by J.K Rowling as well, the loci method is proven to increase your memory and efficiency.

Mind Palace

I have a problem with remembering things, especially numbers and lists. Tell me your phone number, and I’ll fuze the numbers in my head in the first 5 minutes. If I read a list, I have to revisit it every single moment because I’ll forget what was the next bullet talking about.

Last year, I had to be part of the military — it’s compulsory in Greece. It was the best moment for me to live without technology for 15 days.

The thing is that I had to memorize my mother’s number, to call her and comfort her that everything is fine.

Me? Remembering a number without messing it in my mind? Uhh…

That’s where Sherlock Holmes was helpful to me. I was addicted to the series, and I remembered him using a place called “Mind Palace”. I tried to imitate that technique, but with something more familiar. My bedroom. It worked! After all, it was only one phone number.

Now, one year later, I’m revisiting this technique, and backed up by research I’ll show you how to get something out of it, as well.

J.K Rowling herself uses the loci method too.

What Is the Mind Palace/Method of Loci?

The mind palace, known as the method of loci, is a memory technique.

It goes way back in time, with Simonides of Ceos keeping the first historical evidence of the method of loci. He stored large amounts of data by placing images that represent the data into mental locations or journeys.

Although the actual origin goes far back into hunter-gatherer times, Simonides was the first to keep track of the memory technique.

Loci itself means place or locality. That’s why we are talking about mind palace and not mind hard drive or whatever.

Your version of a mind palace should be your most easy-to-remember place. For me, that’s my home. With the garden included — you’ll see why later.

The method of loci will increase your learning speed and retention, literally in almost a weekend.

But you need to understand the methodology behind it, first.

How to Get The Most out of Your Mind Palace/Method of Loci.

Persons desiring to train this faculty must select localities and form mental images of the facts they wish to remember and store those images in the localities, with the result that the arrangement of the localities will preserve the order of the facts. — Cicero

Cicero, a Roman philosopher in the 1st century B.C., wrote about Simonides and the method of loci in his work, De Oratore.

In the quote above, he mentions that the person who desires to train this technique must preserve the order of the facts. Indeed, it’s vital to give your mind a pattern so it doesn’t get confusing.

Think of yourself waking up every day consistently at the same time. Your mind will become comfortable with this “morning ritual”, and you won’t need an alarm clock in the long run.

But this technique requires a slightly different approach. You have to treat it as levels in a game. Gradually adding more information and complexity to your mind palace.

“Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.”

Keep it simple.

First, the loci.

What’s the most easy-to-remember place you can think of? Let me assume that it’s the kitchen — I love food so it’s where you’ll find me most of the time.

You want to remember the recipe for your favorite food. It requires 5 items, and some numbers (oven temperature, the time needed for completion, etc.).

Assuming that you have the loci created as vivid as possible, close your eyes and draw it in your mind. This is your memory palace.

Secondly, the technique.

We talked about preservation. To achieve that, every piece of information you put in your kitchen requires you to retract it in the same order.

Try to put every item listed in the recipe in different places. These places need to be separated to make it easier for you to comprehend. If your kitchen is a mess, try a more empty room.

If you finished with adding the elements of the recipe, close your eyes again, try to imitate the route you first built. The pieces of information will be located at the same place you left them, hopefully vividly enough for you to understand them.

Bonus tips.

  • Try to repeat the action 3–5 times per day, till it becomes clear to you.
  • Have a slightly empty room for loci, at first. You don’t want to bring discomfort to your mind.
  • Try outdoor options as well, if that’s easier for you. Your road in the neighborhood, for instance.
  • Try to combine added elements. In a created space, elements co-exist, so you can remember that on the left side of the recipe you left another piece of information, for example.
  • Keep track of your actions. The first steps are crucial.
  • Have fun with it! Humor helps massively. Try to make the items move as well.

Consider reading a more complete memory palace how to, in the art of memory.

How I Started — The Easiest Way.

Remember, I started using the technique for just a phone number.

I didn’t put any difficulties in there. I only wanted 10 numbers in a sequence.

So, my garden was the best option for me. It’s simple enough to recall easily. Luckily for me, we have 10 stairs before entering my home. I put every number in its respective stair.

The twist? The numbers were basketball jerseys. I love basketball, and I can recall at least one player for the respective number on their jerseys, so I chose this method of interaction.

I recalled slowly climbing the stairs, going through every number. I used to recall the scene 5 times per day. Now, I don’t need to recall the place at all. It feels so easy to bring the numbers in my head, as easy as using my muscles to walk.

For me, that’s the easiest way in. Trying to recall a phone number. Not so many digits. And a quite empty place to begin with.

Maybe one day I can recall the 36-character-password of my crypto wallet…

Final Thoughts

Often, you find yourself struggling to remember key information. You can’t have a notepad available with you, so you need a technique to address that situation.

Or maybe you want to improve your memory skills and get better at recalling things along with a faster digest of information.

In both problems, a valuable technique that offers a solution is the memory palace or method of loci.

For Sherlock Holmes’s fans, this might be a known technique. Although Sherlock is a fictional character, his technique was used even 2500 years ago. Many years later, research has shown a way to make the most out of this technique.

In this article, I went through the basics to show you how to get into the method of loci and how to build your own memory palace.

It takes little of your time, and it can enable sections of your brain that you kept hibernated in the past.

Let me know how it goes.

Find my contact links here.

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About the author

Giorgos Pantsios

Fulltime Writer | Fulltime learner | Polymath from Greece | Exploring life | Modern Philosopher | Phone Photographer

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