To most the mind is a great mystery and its inner workings unknown. We have had it since birth and used it so much that we never stop to think what it really is and what it does.
Our brain allows us to take information through our senses, turn it into an experience, and then record that as a memory. Our memories affect our future actions and those actions further widen our understanding. With a better understanding our values, desires, and goals evolve. Thus our future decisions are determined by our past, and without our past we would have no future.
Think of your subconscious mind as a great library of your thoughts. It keeps track of everything your conscious mind does and then rearranges them for later use. All of your knowledge, conclusions, beliefs, and memories lay there room after room and shelf after shelf. Through thinking you can gain an access to this whole library and all of its content. Everything can be found, but without a proper map some of the shelfs and its content are hard to find.
Your attention determines what your subconscious mind comprehends as important. If someone introduces himself to you and your attention immediately switches to another thing, you won’t remember his name very long. Similarly if a car passes by and you pay no attention to it, you won’t be able to describe it later if asked. On the contrary, if a beautiful lady passes by you will remember her face even days later. What makes the difference? Your attention!
Try to think of any subject, and then note how all the related things start to pop into your mind. Those then lead you to think of an another subject that then again brings you to another set of ideas. Sometimes you are not able to recall an idea you were looking for, in which case the information was not indexed very well, but rather quite carelessly in haste. In this case your subconscious goes into work and tries to find it for you, and then at some point it may surface in your conscious mind.
Without sufficient linkage your memories get lost in deep chambers from where they are very hard to find. To make sure you can later gain an access to something you had paid attention to you must connect it to your previous information. That creates a strong linking between the things you want to remember, and very quickly your subconscious mind can give you the exact information you are looking for, along with all sort of related thoughts and concepts. Think of your thoughts as points in your brain, each new piece of information becomes a new point, and then you simply connect all those points. The more connections you have the quicker you are able to locate the right location.
Attention alone is not enough to really understand and remember what you read, for example. You should also reflect on what you read by thinking of the subjects covered, the new things you learned, the conclusions you drew, and how they match with your previous understanding. You should stop and reflect on all occasions, even just about your normal day. Think of what you achieved that day: the things you did, the people you met, and so on. The result is a stronger mind where the various subjects are better linked to each other.
At the end all would be for nothing If you won’t give your brain enough time to rest. Some of the best ideas and realizations pop into your conscious mind when you are meditating. Meditation helps your mind to get rid of all the waste in your head and thus focus on what matters. Also, if you work too long you will become tired and then your thought process become slow and your ability to learn new things will diminish. During your sleep your subconscious mind goes over all the things you had done and learned while your body is loading its batteries and getting ready to for the next day.
Your subconscious mind is a friend who is there to hand over everything you ask for. If you ask nothing it will give you nothing, but if through continuous requests you ask it to deliver certain information it will learn it to be valuable. Thus the next time you pay attention to something similar your mind will be there to capture and store it for your later use. Your mind becomes stronger when you give it some exercise.
All in all, acquiring a great memory requires hard work and perhaps some conscious awareness about how it really works. Treat it well and you will get rewarded.
In conclusion, do these three things and you will see improvement:
- Focus your attention
- Reflect what you learned
- Meditate and rest