So you know I’m crazy about the human brain. But all the little things I learn are insignificant if they don’t apply to real life. But they do. That’s what’s so exciting and so powerful. I have an invaluable friend who was forgetting everyday things. Like whether she took her medication. Where she parked the car. Whether or not she fed the dog.
I was really worried about her because she was scared. She feared she was losing her memory. Can you imagine losing anything more important? We’re all made of memories. Think not? Look around your environment. See that patched old quilt. The baseball you keep on a shelf. The photograph of your family on vacation. The chair that belonged to your grandparent. The serving dish that belonged to your mother. Your “things” have meanings because they are attached to memories. And how about the faces that surround you? Your relationships with them are made of memories.
Now imagine if slowly those memories began to fade. The quilt just looked old and ragged and ready to be discarded. The baseball no longer reminded you of your son’s first homerun, but was now just an old baseball. And the faces? Imagine if they faded too, and you could not remember to whom they belonged to or why they mattered. They were no longer loved ones…just faces.
I can’t imagine a more terrifying scenario.
That’s why I’m going to give you a little brain exercise and ask you to try it. I want you to pause for a moment when something is important to you, and put that into your brain twice. As you’re going into the mall, stop and look back, register where you parked the car…TWICE. When you take your morning meds, stop TWICE and tell yourself that you’ve taken them. When something is important to you, take a few seconds to remind yourself where, when, why it’s important. Do this TWICE. Walk though your home and remind yourself why certain items are valuable to you. RE-LIVE those memories. Do it frequently. Focus on faces and give your fusiform gyri some exercise and some new data to send to your long-term memory banks.
This is how your brain is going to change: First of all your sensory memory is going to last more than a split second. You’re going to fully engage it when you FEEL the texture of your vitamins in your palm. SEE the colors. SMELL them. LISTEN to the running water or the gulp in your throat as you wash them down. TASTE the pills. Be aware of the sensory information you’re experiencing.
Next, register that you took your meds in your short-term memory. TELL yourself that yes; you took your meds for the day. Then do something else for a few seconds and tell yourself AGAIN that you took your meds.
The more times you REMEMBER you will not FORGET. You’ll extend your short-term memory, and if something is really important, you’ll be able to plug it into your long-term memory. This is your capacity to store and recall unlimited bits of information. This is how you begin to actually rewire your own brain!
There’s a truckload of science behind how this all works, but for now, just practice repeating information into your sensory memory and your short term memory and get back to me on how well it works. I’m not making any claims about staving off Alzheimer’s or dementia, but I know it works “when I work it.”
It took my friend about two months to get into a practice. That’s because we’ve spent a lifetime trying to live off the flashes of information we ask our brains to store and recall. But by feeding her brain a fuller diet of information, my friend found that her life changed. Her ability to recall accurately is amazing. She’s no longer fearful and doubtful. And that, my friends, is wonderful.
Image Credit: http://www.teachmag.com