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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549 words // 10 min. read

Dunning-Kruger-Effect

This post is dedicated to all of the people out there who are too “shy” to voice for themselves (either socially or publicly) and who are tortured by this fact because they know they have something special to share with the world.

It’s also dedicated to the sensitive people who push past these fears and use their voice anyway.

I remember finding out about the psychological concept of the Dunning-Kruger effect and having a major epiphany about why our society is the way it is. This one idea sheds a big light on the reason why we have so many smart people who tend to save their opinions for their close friends or their journals, instead of taking a stand publicly when they are perhaps most needed.

Put simply, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a subtle bias in our society, wherein smart people don’t step up to the proverbial mic because they are smart and self-aware enough to know that there are other people out there who are more qualified to speak on the topic, and thus they defer the podium to these “other smarter people.” This is noble and everything but the problem is that MOST of the smart people end up withholding their influence on society, and the result is that we have a lot of very unaware and under-qualified people voicing instead.

So basically, we have smart people deferring to other smart people who are also deferring, and you have a large (important) subset of the population who doesn’t voice out of self-awareness. And then we all have issues with our “leaders.”

There’s a corollary effect also, where an incompetent person can’t recognize their own incompetence because they are…. incompetent… which is why you see a lot of inflated ego-based people at the podium, people who literally cannot see their true place in society – which is not a place of greatness, but in fact a place of trumped up self-importance.

As Bertrand Russell put it, “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

I see this one idea as a huge reason why the smart and sensitive people out there have a sacred duty to use their voice to influence conversations as they come up. Whether that be in person when you have a chance to redirect an ignorant discussion or online where you can influence hundreds of people in your network with a single comment or post is beside the point. You have a voice and it’s connected to a clear conscience and a pure heart. This alone makes it necessary that you speak up, as so many who use their voice are driven by ignorance instead…

We live in dire times. Many people are going to lose hope and hide from the uncertainty and keep discussions “comfortable” out of fear. But if we have strong, loving, sensitive people out there pushing past their comfort zones and taking stands about important issues, even at the risk of making people uncomfortable, then we just might get somewhere now won’t we!

Use your voice. Make it loud. Speak from the depths of the wellspring in your heart. The collective consciousness is waiting patiently for you to emerge.

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389 words // 5 min. read

 

inner world

One thing I spend a lot of time thinking about is the inner world vs. the outer world. Like, you have an inner world with its own laws, and its own color palette, and I have my inner world, and everyone you know has an inner world, and the basic fact of the matter is that NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW WHAT YOURS IS LIKE.

So in thinking about all of the richness of your internal reality – your challenges, your beautiful views on life, your language style and mannerisms, your experiences – there is a certain pointlessness that could manifest, thinking about the fact that no one – even the closest of lovers, the best of friends, the wisest of mentors – will ever come to know the landscape inside of you. Even with the best of storytelling skills, the most colorful of language, the greatest prowess in articulation – you will always be alone.

Pointlessness is only one reactionary outcome that’s possible of course. You could experience depression or excitement, motivation or dejection, determination or disregard. Whatever. The point is, aloneness is magical. Aloneness is true. Maybe the only true thing that ever existed!

But what is perhaps most interesting about all of this is that the only way to get closer to the possibility of knowing someone else or having someone else know you is in the excellence by which you can communicate. Communication opens a channel that allows connection. And in so far as you refine your ability to communicate – a lifelong study – is how close someone will ever get to knowing you.

Yeah, I said it – it’s all up to you! I once heard the quote that “the burden of communication is on the one trying to say something.” As in, if someone doesn’t understand you, it’s because of YOU – your approach, your word choice, your focus, your tone of voice, your body language. Not because they’re not listening, or they don’t care, or they aren’t hearing you right. You must focus on what you are doing. You must make them care to hear it. It is only up to you.

You want to feel connected? It’s up to you to express yourself. It’s up to you to tell your story, make your claim, stand up for yourself… to find your voice and use it.

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344 words // 5 min. read

The age of information, brought to you by handheld computers that fit in your pocket. We tune in and we never tune out. Unless you’re skilled in the art of…….. cellphone etiquette?

That’s right, folks, I’m giving away the million-dollar idea to write a Cell Phone Etiquette Guide. Why does the world need this, you may ask? Well that’s due to the fact that cell phones are such a new part of our society that we apes don’t know how to be considerate with them!

There are just certain things you don’t do. You don’t text while you’re having dinner with someone. You don’t have a phone call in the car when other people are riding with you. You don’t play whats-it-called-app when someone is attempting to connect with you.

We people are so in search of connection that we scroll and scroll and scroll down all the newsfeeds we can consume and yet, we are more disconnected than ever. You’re only gonna get those fuzzy feelings if you’re face to face with someone else. Disconnect from Facebook life and connect with plain ol’ magical LIFE. Ya hear me?

I advise you to look around when you’re alone at a coffee shop. It’s not shameful, or silly, or sucky to be alone in public. There is all kinds of life going on around you. Maybe you could meet your next client, or your next girlfriend, or your next best friend. Maybe you will find $50 on the ground. Maybe you will see something you like and give someone a compliment. But not in front of that phone you won’t! The best you can hope for while on your phone is to be considered cliché by some half-awake bystander.

Either way – you are not your Facebook status, or your Instagram handle, or your Twitter cleverness. You are a living, breathing human and you need living, breathing human interaction. Find the magic around you… you’ll find that it expands when you give your attention to it. Get on that level – your humanness is begging you to.

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393 words // 5 min. read

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For my first post I am covering a regrettable aspect of modern American society: the lost practice of apprenticeship. According to Wikipedia, it was a practice developed in the late Middle Ages, and afforded the apprentice free food, lodging, and training by a master in exchange for work. Also according to Wikipedia, “the number of apprenticeships has declined greatly in the United States in the modern era.” And that’s because it’s been replaced with the concept of “internships” – free labor in exchange for…. experience in bitch work.

Personally I have always sought out the advice and guidance of those much older than me. I figure that they have learned lessons through mistakes that I can bypass, if I am receptive to those lessons. I have been blessed by the wisdom and training of mentors, especially professionally. There are mindsets I have adopted from their gentle guidance which afford me expansion beyond what would have been possible to my mind otherwise.

Not so in the modern-day internship. You don’t sit by the photographer and learn techniques on Photoshop. You don’t get to watch the fashion designer at work and he or she doesn’t explain their choices to you. You don’t even get to sit in on meetings while the executives negotiate a business deal. Instead, you are in the copy room, fetching lattes, replying to emails. Miserable and undervalued, and unpaid for your efforts. You are the workhorse pulling the plow for other peoples’ crops.

Well I think that’s a piss-poor way to show the young that they have value! Know that you are capable of so much more. You could start working to become a photographer if that’s your thing, or you could start a sewing group or just start making your own clothing until you can take orders for money, or you could ask every businessperson you know for help with your negotiation skills. The keys are that you recognize your own potential and that you work toward your goal.

And many times older people are very happy to have a young person who is eager for shaping. Ask for help and you will receive it. Ask for feedback and you may wince when you receive it, but you will grow through it. And you will expand, expand, expand. The wisdom of the ages must be passed down– do your part and ask for it!

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