Memory Training. Part 2
Environment has a strong influence upon concentration, until you have learned to be alone in a crowd and undisturbed by clamor. When you set out to memorize a fact or a speech, you may find the task easier away from all sounds and moving objects. All impressions foreign to the one you desire to fix in your mind must be eliminated.
The next great step in memorizing is to pick out the essentials of the subject, arrange them in order, and dwell upon them intently. Think clearly of each essential, one after the other. Thinking a thing - not allowing the mind to wander to non-essentials - is really memorizing.
Association of ideas is universally recognized as an essential in memory work; indeed, whole systems of memory training have been founded on this principle.
Many speakers memorize only the outlines of their addresses, filling in the words at the moment of speaking. Some have found it helpful to remember an outline by associating the different points with objects in the room. Speaking on "Peace," you may wish to dwell on the cost, the cruelty, and the failure of war, and so lead to the justice of arbitration. Before going on the platform if you will associate four divisions of your outline with four objects in the room, this association may help you to recall them. You may be prone to forget your third point, but you remember that once when you were speaking the electric lights failed, so arbitrarily the electric light globe will help you to remember "failure." Such associations, being unique, tend to stick in the mind. While recently speaking on the six kinds of imagination the present writer formed them into an acrostic - visual, auditory, motor, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile, furnished the nonsense word vamgot, but the six points were easily remembered.
In the same way that children are taught to remember the spelling of teasing words - separate comes from separ - and as an automobile driver remembers that two C's and then two H's lead him into Castor Road, Cottman Street, Haynes Street and Henry Street, so important points in your address may be fixed in mind by arbitrary symbols invented by yourself. The very work of devising the scheme is a memory action. . The psychological process is simple: it is one of noting intently the steps by which a fact, or a truth, or even a word, has come to you. Take advantage of this tendency of the mind to remember by association.
Repetition is a powerful aid to memory. .Thurlow Weed, the journalist and political leader, was troubled because he so easily forgot the names of persons he met from day to day. He corrected the weakness, relates Professor William James, by forming the habit of attending carefully to names he had heard during the day and then repeating them to his wife every evening. Doubtless Mrs. Weed was heroically longsuffering, but the device worked admirably.
After reading a passage you would remember, close the book, reflect, and repeat the contents - aloud, if possible.
Reading thoughtfully aloud has been found by many to be a helpful memory practise.
Write what you wish to remember. This is simply one more way of increasing the number and the strength of your mental impressions by utilizing all your avenues of impression. It will help to fix a speech in your mind if you speak it aloud, listen to it, write it out, and look at it intently. You have then impressed it on your mind by means of vocal, auditory, muscular and visual impressions.
Some folk have peculiarly distinct auditory memories; they are able to recall things heard much better than things seen. Others have the visual memory; they are best able to recall sight-impressions. As you recall a walk you have taken, are you able to remember better the sights or the sounds? Find out what kinds of impressions your memory retains best, and use them the most. To fix an idea in mind, use every possible kind of impression.
Daily habit is a great memory cultivator. Learn a lesson from the Marathon runner. Regular exercise, though never so little daily, will strengthen your memory in a surprising measure. Try to describe in detail the dress, looks and manner of the people you pass on the street.
Observe the room you are in, close your eyes, and describe its contents. View closely the landscape, and write out a detailed description of it. How much did you miss? Notice the contents of the show windows on the street; how many features are you able to recall? Continual practise in this feat may develop in you as remarkable proficiency as it did in Robert Houdin and his son.
The daily memorizing of a beautiful passage in literature will not only lend strength to the memory, but will store the mind with gems for quotation. But whether by little or much add daily to your memory power by practise.
Memorize out of doors. The buoyancy of the wood, the shore, or the stormy night on deserted streets may freshen your mind as it does the minds of countless others.
Lastly, cast out fear. Tell yourself that you can and will and do remember. By pure exercise of selfism assert your mastery. Be obsessed with the fear of forgetting and you cannot remember. Practise the reverse. Throw aside your manuscript crutches - you may tumble once or twice, but what matters that, for you are going to learn to walk and leap and run.
Memorizing A Speech
Now let us try to put into practise the foregoing suggestions. First, reread this chapter, noting the nine ways by which memorizing may be helped.
Then read over the following selection from Beecher, applying so many of the suggestions as are practicable. Get the spirit of the selection firmly in your mind. Make mental note of - write down, if you must - the succession of ideas. Now memorize the thought. Then memorize the outline, the order in which the different ideas are expressed. Finally, memorize the exact wording.
No, when you have done all this, with the most faithful attention to directions, you will not find memorizing easy, unless you have previously trained your memeory, or it is naturally retentive. Only by constant practise will memory become strong and only by continually observing these same principles will it remain strong. You will, however, have made a beginning, and that is no mean matter.