How You Can Have a Great Memory (Despite Having a Terrible One)

How You Can Have a Great Memory (Despite Having a Terrible One)

The curious thing about memory is that you don’t have to have a good one to have a great one.

Moonwalking with Einstein tells the story of Josh Foer, who went from a typical journalist to US memory champion in a year. Anyone who has read it can tell you that memory athletes have normal minds.

They’re not savants or gifted. Like everyone else, they forget where they left their keys.

Even so, they can memorise shuffled decks of cards in minutes.

And not just cards – they can retain names, dates, random binary strings, even poems.

I won’t go into the techniques they use. You can read about those anywhere.

But I will mention an underlying principle that lets things like mind palaces work. And, unlike techniques for memorising cards and numbers, this actually can help you keep track of your keys.

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Mundane Magic and Scientific Sorcery

Mundane Magic and Scientific Sorcery

Neurons do something strange when starved of oxygen. First, they start firing randomly. Then they start to shut down. If they don’t receive precious oh-two soon, they start to die.

This sequence is, of course, an oversimplification. You’ll find counter examples all over the place.

Even so, this sequence explains a lot.

When certain parts of the brain (the temporal lobe and a few others) start misfiring, you receive a flood of memories. This can vary from an unusual montage of random events to full-blown hallucinations.

When the whole brain starts firing randomly, that’s a seizure. But when parts of it spark off for no reason, it can create predictable effects. For example, in the occipital lobe, this can lead to seeing a spinning vortex of light. It’s dark around the edges, probably because peripheral vision shuts down first.

Even your sense of balance can do weird things. The misfires followed by a shutdown can create the sense that every direction is the same.

And if the left brain weakens first (or the right brain starts misfiring more intensely), then you receive an incredible sense of peace, knowledge and connection to the universe. Even as your consciousness fades.

When conditions are right, you get a sense of floating, hallucinations, your life flashing before your eyes and the ‘light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel’ effect.

And there you have it: a plausible, mundane explanation for near death experiences.

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Applied Neuroscience Secrets of Ancient Mystics

Applied Neuroscience Secrets of Ancient Mystics

The power of meditation is the power of your mind. It trains useful mental skills that lie at the heart of everything you do.

For example, focus.

Learn to do that and nothing won’t become easier.

For example…

If you want techniques that improve your memory, the best place to turn to is the latest neuroscience research.

The second best place is a book by William Walker Atkinson.

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Post-Meditation Gibberish Means It’s Working

Post-Meditation Gibberish Means It’s Working

Now, this is not a universal experience.

It’s pretty common. It happens to me all the time and I see it in others, too.

Some of you will read this and nod your head. For everyone else, keep this in the back of your mind. You might find it useful one day.

There’s a curious phenomenon with meditation. You might go so far as to call it a side effect.

This phenomenon is where, after a really good meditation session, you suddenly become completely inarticulate. You can barely string two words together. I’m not talking about if you try to describe your session, you find your experiences don’t translate well to words.

No – this is where you can’t talk about anything.

Something as simple as your dinner plans leaves you grasping for the right vocabulary.

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There’s nothing surprising about hypnotic brainwaves

There’s nothing surprising about hypnotic brainwaves

For a long time, the brain was a black box. No one knew what it did or how it worked. History is rife with hilarious misconceptions, from Aristotle thinking the brain cooled the blood, to Descartes who thought the pineal gland was the home of the soul. It wasn’t until we were able to peek inside that we learned some basic truths of ourselves. One of which was among the first evidence that hypnosis is real.

Electroencephalography (EEG) machines were first used in the 19th century. They showed that the brains of humans and animals emitted electromagnetic waves. These waves changed frequencies depending on what was going on inside.

It was crude, but it opened a window into the brain.

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The Chemical That Improves Your Mental Health

The Chemical That Improves Your Mental Health

If you are feeling tense, stressed and strung out for no reason, then something in your life is unbalanced. Tension should rise in the face of challenges, then quickly drain away. If it doesn’t, then something is amiss.

Now, this could have a psychological cause. If you spend all day fixating on what can go wrong, then of course you’re going to be in this state.

But what causes this fixation in the first place?

Poor habits of thinking?


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Your Body’s Mystery Chemical

Your Body’s Mystery Chemical

Serotonin is on everyone’s lips lately. This strange little neurotransmitter shows up in all sort of weird places. Its role in mood regulation is so critical that many researchers call it the ‘happy molecule.’ It regulates appetite too.

Hypnotists – I hope you’re paying attention. This little bundle of joy is worth paying attention to.

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Hypnotic Rapport in a Bottle

Hypnotic Rapport in a Bottle

Hypnotists need a certain state of mind when working with clients. In a therapeutic context, the relationship is everything. I’m not saying anything strange here – how you see each other shapes everything else. Rapport is king and without it, hypnosis is impossible.

To say that a single neurochemical triggers the perfect state for this would be ridiculous.

I’m going to say it anyway. It’s only a slight exaggeration.

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Hypnotic Mind over Matter

Hypnotic Mind over Matter

Pain. It would be a funny thing if it weren’t… well, painful. It’s your body’s response to harm and danger, and it’s so much more. You know that when you feel it, it’s more than just a voice whispering warnings in your ear. It wears you down, distracts you from life and leaves you floating in misery.

Want to know what’s great at dealing with pain?

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The Chemistry of Desire

The Chemistry of Desire

To want something with every part of your body feels like a psychological state. It seems as though it’s all in your thinking. And, of course, it is. And it’s also chemical. When you desire something, your neurochemistry releases dopamine, which changes every part of you.

Imagine a young man who’s sick of his body. He hates being unfit and unattractive. Everything in his life would improve, he believes, if he lost a little weight and bulked up.

He makes great plans. One day, he joins a gym. The next, he buys a cookbook full of healthy recipes. It doesn’t take long for his plan to fizzle out and soon he’s back to his routine of pizza, beer and TV.

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