You Can Create Your Own Mind Palace

Learn Sherlock Holmes’ Powerful Mental Memory Trick

Sherlock Holmes’ awesome mind palace was shown in The BBC’s Sherlock season 3 finale “His Last Vow.”

Sherlock Holmes is a master of deduction. He uses that and other reasoning skills to solve crimes no one else can.

But there is another mental trick in Sherlock’s arsenal that anyone can learn to take memory to another level. The mind palace.

Also called memory theatre, or memory journey, a mind palace is a mnemonic device that has been around at least as long as the ancient Greeks.

Cicero the Roman politician and lawyer used it to memorize long speeches.

Today professional memory performers use it to quickly memorize complete decks of cards or lists of numbers in the 100’s.

What A Mind Palace Is

A mind palace is not a physical location, but a set of rooms or specific location you build in your mind.

The rooms you create work to help you remember sets of things by a method called “loci.”

Loci associates the information you need to remember with a location you are familiar with. Think of it as a creative and visual storage system.

How to Build Your Own Mind Palace

You can start with a place you know well, like the house you grew up in. Or you can create your own dream palace or building. The key is to use a place that feels familiar. Let’s start with one room and fill it with stuff:

  1. Doors
  2. Furniture
  3. Decorations
  4. Chairs, Beds, Sofas
  5. Unique objects from your childhood
  6. Anything else you’d like to look at in your palace.

Every object you put in your room can be a location you can later “place” a memory.

Next, mentally walk through your room a few times to be sure of the precise location of everything in the there. Always start and end at the same point (usually the door to the room).

Now think of a series of things you want to remember:

  1. Questions on a test.
  2. Numbers of an account.
  3. A series of passwords.
  4. Steps in a recipe.
  5. A grocery list.
  6. Anything else you’d like to remember (the information in this post).

Place these items on or in the objects you’ve put in your room. If you want them to be forever connected to the object, imagine them moving in a dynamic way. Maybe a book with test answers flips open on the table in your room as you walk by.

The more you can make the things you want to remember interact with the objects in the room, the stronger your memory will be.

Mind Palace Illustration by Creative Commons

Once you have completed this room, continue to add more rooms to your palace. They can be decorated in different styles and contain different subjects of things you never want to forget .

When you want to recall the items you left in a particular room, go to that room’s door in your mind and walk through it in the same order you did the first time you created it.

Sherlock’s mind palace took things a step further. He put talking people from his life in his palace to tell him key things about the subject he was recalling. If you become comfortable with the basic concept, try adding new elements like that in your palace.

Your mind palace is only limited by your imagination.

Your imagination will get stronger and more vivid every time you exercise it.

This is one technique that will improve with practice and age.

It May Save Your Life or Make You an Expert Witness

A Greek poet named Simonides was at a party over 2,000 years ago when he stepped outside to look for someone. While he was out of the banquet hall, a column cracked and the building started to collapse behind him — burying everyone who had been inside in a massive pile of rubble.

According to the legend, Simonides used his mind palace to visualize where everyone had been sitting around the tables at the banquet and helped authorities identify everybody that wasn’t able to be recovered.

Expert Tip

As your mind palace grows into many rooms, hallways, courtyards, and gardens of important information, remember to put a signature waypoint every three to five rooms. It could be a clock or a sculpture of you as a child. That way you won’t have to start at the front door and do a full walkthrough every time you need to recall something you left in the garden.

Once your mind palace becomes huge, mental waypoints become shortcuts

The mind palace technique works because your brain is wired to recall images faster than text.

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to be a master of memory. Start building your mind palace today.

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Brendan Patrick Blowers

Brendan Patrick Blowers

Writing as I live it. Creativity. Flow. Leadership. Peak Performance.

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