How to Train your Memory

I have been a chronic sufferer of CRS. That’s short for “Can’t Remember Shit,” of course! Nothing so serious as early onset Alzheimer’s, or anything like that, just a tricky and fickle brain that doesn’t like to hold information.

I’m tired of that. But there is hope. The human brain is like a muscle (no calling me a musclehead) and you can train it. Research has shown that new neural connections are created throughout life, and we can even grow new neurons, something that was once thought impossible after childhood. With this information in mind, I decided to try my hand at improving my brain. So I set myself the task of memorizing various immortal poems that will help build my character. My method was simple. Read the poem several times, write it down a few times, and keep a piece of paper in your pocket and look at it at odd times all day. Rhyming poems are easier to remember, of course.

I found that I would remember more when I woke up then when I went to sleep, because my brain had been busy sorting information and filing all night. Nice to know the sleep scientists are on to something.

So far I memorized Ozymandias by Shelley in three days, while working and doing all my normal things. That bit of paper in my pocket was probably the most helpful thing I could have done, that and saying as much as I could of it, then checking the paper for corrections.

Next is Ulysses by Tennyson. It’s a much longer work but I can already tell I’m having an easier time with it because of the work I did on Ozymandias. If you want to try it too, start with something you really like. It could be a poem, a set of song lyrics, a scrap of a story or article, anything like that. Try to memorize it. It will take at least a few days to do properly.

Some tips for memorizing things:

You will remember the words better if you hand write them at least once, and preferably several times.  For maximum effect, handwrite it rather than printing.

Start small to build up your confidence.  Maybe even just one line.

Read it out loud, read it silently, glance at the piece throughout the day and especially before sleep.

Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps you remember things. You will often find yourself better able to remember after you’ve slept.

Keep at it. It will be hard at first but as you go on, it will get easier!

“And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”
-Tennyson

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