Today’s reader question:
“Memory techniques require visualization, like imagining things you want to remember and “seeing” them in your memory palace.
But, I struggle with visualizing things. I don’t see things clearly like pictures in my mind. Can I still use memory techniques if I can’t visualize?”
A lot of people get discouraged when they can’t imagine / visualize something clearly in their mind when practicing memory techniques.
Here’s the truth: I don’t clearly picture things in my mind either. I can’t.
I don’t see anything in high definition when I memorize.
Here’s how I would describe what I experience when I visualize and store things in my memory palaces:
When I close my eyes, I see black. I don’t see imagery vividly in my mind’s eye as if it were a movie on a TV screen.
When I imagine something, I think of past memories and feelings of things that I’ve seen and experienced in my life.
I can imagine walking through places I’ve been before (like my childhood home). I can imagine I’m standing in any part of the house, I can feel the size and space, I can see a subtle impression of what the yard looks like, what my room looks like, what it feels like to walk through the front door, etc.
All based on memories from my life.
What I “see” in this example is what I would describe as a “ghostly representation” of what my house is like. It’s a blurry, non detailed point-of-view.
If I were to “zoom” in to remember details (like the shape and colors of the table) I can imagine it a bit more clearly…using my memory of it.
What is most important in memory techniques and visualization is not SEEING things clearly, but instead FEELING and THINKING about the things you want to remember.
If I tell you to imagine an elephant stomping on your front steps, I expect that you can remember (in a very general sense) what your front steps look like.
You have memories and nostalgia about your front steps. You can remember walking up and down them. They have a physical “feel” and an emotional “feel” when you think about them.
You can also imagine an elephant or “a huge animal”. Maybe you even love elephants. You feel a subtle joy when you think about one being on your front steps.
That’s all you need.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t clearly “see” imagery in your mind’s eye. What’s more important is to think about what you’re trying to imagine. Use past memories, sensations, shapes, feelings that come to your mind.
The more I’ve trained, the more I realize how much visualization is about emotion and feel…not so much vision.
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