Sancy Suraj: How To Memorize Like Sherlock Holmes Using The Mind Palace


Sancy Suraj from Singapore is no stranger to The Mind Palace. ” I have used The Mind Palace to break 2 memory records,” Said Sancy Suraj. ” One of the memory record was a world record for the Longest Colour Sequence Memorized and the other memory record was a national record for the most number of pi digits memorized. I memorized 1505 digits of Pi using the Mind Palace along with another memory technique call the Major System,” Sancy added.

Research finds that just 30 minutes of memory practice a day, for a total of 40 days, can reorganise your brain connectivity. Life would be a lot more impressive if you were a memory athlete. From remembering the little details like where you put your car keys, to the more important matters like your bank PIN codes, general knowledge facts, and work-related information recall, you would be placed for success and looked upon as greatness by your colleagues. Most of us, though, are not wired that way.

But do not be dissuaded. Thanks to neuroplasticity, anyone can transform their faulty memory. As the saying goes “What you are born with is not what you are stuck with.”

There are several comparatively easy things an individual can do to improve their memory. The first step is to learn memory techniques. Just like how there are techniques for reading a book or writing, there are techniques when it comes to memorisation. Without memory techniques, one will surely fail in their quest to attain memory prowess like Sherlock Holmes.

An example of a memory technique is called the acrostic or acronym method. A mnemonic device is a trick designed to make remembering things easier. For example, if you are trying to remember the colour of the rainbow, you can use ROYGBIV.

Another more advanced mnemonic technique is called a mind palace, also known as the Memory Palace, the Roman Room or the Method of Loci.

“The mind palace does not have to be based on a real place, but that helps: The more intimate you are with the structure, the more easily you can find what you’re looking for. For example, your mind palace could be a representation of your current house. Another examples can include, your old house, your parent’s house, your friend’s house and even your office,” Said Sancy Suraj.

The oldest known memory technique is called the method of loci (“loci” is the plural of locus, which means place, or location). It is based on the theory that you can remember places that you are familiar with, so if you can associate something you need to remember with a location that you know thoroughly, the location will serve as a clue that will assist you when it comes to remembering.

The memory palace is believed to have been invented by the Greek poet called Simonides of Ceos. Simonides developed his memory about 2,500 years ago, in miserable situations. The rooftop of a banquet chamber, full of people, collapsed and squashed many of them beyond recognition. Simonides then had to recall where the guest had been sitting along the tables to verify their deaths, therefore, method of location, method of loci or the memory palace.

From this encounter, Simonides realized that it would be reasonable to remember anything by linking it with a mental image of a location. The method of loci system was used as a memory device by both Greek and Roman speakers, who took advantage of the system to give speeches without using notes. Dating back to around 500 b.c., it was the most popular mnemonic method until about the mid-1600s when the phonetic as well as the peg systems were introduced. This system works exceptionally well if you are good at visualizing. Here is how it works:

First this of a location like your house. Let’s start with your living room. Walk around your living room moving in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. For example, couch, TV, table, chair and window. Now let’s say you have a list of items to memorize like apple, orange, milk, chocolate and eggs.

What you will need to do now is to link each item to a location in your room. First image a big apple on your couch. Image the apple in your mind’s eye. Do not draw it, do not place an apple on your couch, imagine it, that is key. The next thing is to visualize an orange on your TV. Image the orange balancing on your TV. Next visualize pouring milk all over your table. Followed by sticking a chocolate bar on your window.

To recall, simply walk through the location and pull the items out. Start with the couch. What you do you see on the couch? What about the TV? Now the table? Followed by the chair and finally the window.

That is the basic use of the Method of Loci. You can memorize a list of 5 items right up to 500 items. The secret to getting really good at this techniques is practice.