Memory Palaces: Go Places…. in your Mind!

595 words // 10 min. read

memory palace

When in college at UT Austin, I researched extensively on the cultural shift from oral culture to written culture at the point when writing was (re)invented around the time of Socrates. I was and am still deeply intrigued by this particular time as it has many sociological implications. However, when researching, I came across a concept that really stuck with me – and despite being 6 years already since undergrad – that concept is still one of my most treasured discoveries.

“Memory Palaces” are a place you make in your mind via a mnemonic technique called the “method of loci” – that is, you create and visit an actual mansion in your mind.

Can you imagine??

The term “memory palace” originates from ancient Greece and Roman philosophers, where, before writing, they had to develop their capacities of memory substantially to be able to remember and recall information without referencing it in any way. Thus they developed the memory palace – actual interior spaces inside their mind where they would develop various rooms (even with furniture and décor) to store and “file away” various bits of information. That way, when they needed to recall something, they would go into that very room next to that very object and easily remember the information.

Along my path I have found more places where this fascinating idea shows up. While looking into Christian mysticism a bit, an interesting path came about when I stumbled across St. Teresa of Ávila – a Spanish Catholic nun and mystic from the 16th century – who wrote about this technique in her grand work, “The Interior Castle.” In this work she describes a vision wherein she visited a mansion in her mind with seven chambers, understood to be an analogy of the soul’s journey, that one must work to attain access to each successive chamber through dedicated prayer and spiritual development.

Another place I came across it was when studying about the Akashic Records. Now, the Akashic Records is a topic ALL in itself, and I could write for days on the experience I have had with this. But for now, I will say that the Akashic Records can be thought of as a giant repository of all of your soul’s recorded experiences, available for reference to you if you so chose. Meaning that, through every lifetime you have, every single experience (down to every hiccup!) gets recorded into a giant library of your soul. This is a very basic definition, but essentially, if you chose to, you could visit a giant library in your mind and review anything that has happened to you, and why.

In any event, I don’t recommend seriously playing around with this if you aren’t well-versed in astral traveling, depth psychology, or if you aren’t extremely humble, respectful of “God”, and soul-centric. There are a great many things that can go wrong with your mental health if you take this on hubristically (as with all magical explorations).

But I think that most people who walk around on this planet don’t even know the capacity that their mind gives them just by being alive, and this topic is one of thousands of possibilities which prove we have only been told about a very limited range of experiences compared to our potential.

So next time you are trying to remember something important, maybe you could try to imagine a single, simple room with a desk or armchair in it, and put the information in a letter or book on the table for you to retrieve when you need it.

You can build your internal mansion from there!

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