As someone who is not very visual, I’m so glad I learned how to use sensory memory to help me use memory techniques better.
But at first, it was really hard coming to grips with the fact that I don’t really see pictures in my mind.
After all, how is a “Memory Palace” supposed to work if you can’t “see” images in your imagination?
Well, whether you’re low on the visual scale, like me, or have full-blown aphantasia, I’ve got 5 simple memory tricks.
Each involve a different kind of sensory memory you can combine with your Memory Palace Network.
These tricks will help you create and use Memory Palaces and your own mnemonic examples (a.k.a. Magnetic Imagery) quickly.
And more importantly than learning to create a Memory Palace Network and mental imagery quickly, you’ll use sensory memory to make the information stick in your mind. It’s actually very easy.But here’s a quick warning before we get started:
There’s going to be some people who will still insist that they can’t do any of these exercises.If that’s you, keep reading until you reach the final tip. Few, if any, will find an excuse for the final tip I’ll share.
The Strange History Of My (Non-Visual) Sensory Memory Blessings
It’s true. I don’t really see pictures in my mind.Although it’s not true that I see nothing at all, if anything, I find what I do see almost useless, if not distracting.When I tell my memory athlete friends this fact, they either:
- Know exactly what I mean
- Use some of the same processes I’m about to share
- Sometimes are purely “visual” in some sense I have yet to understand…
I say “some sense,” because even with our current technology, it’s not possible to peer into anyone else’s imagination.Anyhow, if you know the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, you may have heard some of these conversations before.If not, I recommend you listen to some of them – I’ve learned a ton that have improved my practice and even re-listening to some of them will help your practice too.Here are some of my favorite episodes that touch upon sensory memory:
- Nelson Dellis on visual memory techniques
- Alex Mullen on building speed with mnemonics
- Mark Channon on memory and acting (very multisensory)
- Tansel Ali on gratitude in memory improvement
- John Graham on using memory training obstacles
- Idriz Zogaj on memory training apps
Of course, you need to listen to these episodes with yourself in mind.Why?Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what others do in their minds. Each of us experiences only one mind – the mind we’ve been blessed with.And what a blessing indeed! (Unless you decide not to make it the most incredible experience it can be.)But I understand that some people currently have miserable experiences, and not being able to use memory techniques must be very miserable indeed.So, if you can’t see images in your mind, here’s the first memory trick that will help you find more Memory Palaces and use them:
#1: The Auditory Sensory Memory Palace Trick
Think about a familiar place.Take your school, for example.When I think purely about sound, I hear the voice of Mr. Andrews:“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.He used to say this every time we were supposed to hand in our homework.I have an idea of what the classroom looked like, and since he was a big fellow, I have a general sense of his physical presence. But it’s his voice that really stands out.Likewise, I think of my various band teachers and can even place where different sections of the orchestra were in the different rooms without needed to render a visual picture.
Zero Visualization Needed
There is a way to turn this into a picture that requires zero visualization, but we’ll get to that soon.For now, is this a cool memory trick or what?The more you focus just on sounds, the more you’ll explore powerful dimensions of your memory.This auditory focus will make a huge difference – especially in connection with the video I’ve created for you on mining your autobiographical memory for more Memory Palaces. (Coming soon. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and complete these episodic memory exercises in the meantime)📷
#2: The “What do you feel?” Exercise
Let’s go for something soft with this exercise.When I completed this exercise, I thought of my Cheshire cat.I’ve had two in my life – once from when I visited Disneyland around age 10 and one my mom sent me just a few years ago to fill in the gap.I had to get rid of the old one during one of my epic moves around the globe. Thanks, mom!In terms of the Memory Palace this brings to mind, it’s not Disneyland, though I have used parts of the park as a Memory Palace.Rather, in this case, I think of the plane ride home.Now, you might think that an airplane is not great Memory Palace material.Au contraire, and we’ll talk about using them one day soon. Make sure you’re subscribed for when the day comes.
A Smiling Sensory Memory Example
Anyhow, I have this vague memory of being a 10 year old hugging the Cheshire cat. He joins me here:📷To make this brain exercise work, I really dig into what that felt like in my memory. Then I dig further.And there are indeed other physical sensations related to flying that come to mind.Try accessing these different levels of sensation-based memory for yourself:
- The softness (or hardness) of the seat beneath you
- The temperature of the glass when you touch the window
- The feeling of anticipation as the plane accelerates down the runway
Suddenly, all kinds of sensations emerge when you complete this simple memory exercise.
Now It’s Your Turn
Think about flights you’ve taken. (Or train trips, road trips, etc.)When I completed this exercise, all kinds of flights I’d forgotten emerge.Write the ideas that come up into a Memory Journal and include all the sensations you can think of.Think of it as a kind of personal, private sensory memory test.Bang presto!When I completed this exercise, I found myself with oodles of airplane and airport Memory Palaces to work with along with a wide variety of sensations.Give them all a try!