Have you ever met someone, then weeks later you met them again, and try as hard as you can, you can’t remember their name? I know I have and it’s worse if they remember yours. You stumble with “Hey Man,” or some such, but inwardly you are desperately searching for the connection. Not to worry, it happens to all of us.
Continuous Partial Attention (CPA)
The reason this happens is because of CPA, continuous partial attention. The term, coined in the 1990s, deals with how all us deal with the endless flood of information presented to us on a daily basis. Think about it, the Internet, social media, Smartphones and more, we are literally flooded with new data every second of every day. Our continuous partial attention/CPA is operating in overdrive. Small things, like the name of the person we just met, is pushed into the background, or down the list, much as our email is pushed down as a new email arrives. Our Smartphones can certainly help, but often they’ll remind us to do something, like call Fred, and when the notice arrives, we think, “Now who was Fred, and what did he want?”
This is a form of mental stress and often it manifests itself in multiple ways, increased blood pressure, anxiety, or often memory loss.
I was willing and eager to take brain supplements like Adderin, but I was also looking for a set of brain exercises that could help the process. Presented below are three simple steps that if done regularly, particularly while taking brain supplements, have proven to help with memory.
Don’t worry. We’re not talking about joining a monastery, just a few minutes a day helps immensely. If you can find just a few moments each day to simply unplug from everything you have the time to improve your mind and memory.
NOTE: This means turning off the phone, unplugging the Internet, or at least leaving them in one room, while you meditate in another.
Here’s a typical scenario, yours may vary. Should you have an important meeting coming up, shortly before the meeting sit quietly and close your eyes. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, then exhale slowly and completely. As you exhale, begin to focus your attention on groups of muscles, your toes, calves, thighs, working your way up to your forehead and then relax those muscles. Gently tense the muscles, then relax, relax completely as you breath out, then move to the next muscle group.
By doing this, we are doing much more than simply relaxing; we are teaching the mind to focus your attention and let go of stress.
Focus and Framing
The relaxation exercise we did in step 1 helps prime the body to focus which is the primary element of a good memory. Think of a camera, have you every taken a picture while moving the camera? It came back blurry, your mind is much the same when you focus you are providing the tools needed to capture a sharp, clear image.
This isn’t the holy grail, this is a step in the process, just like brain boosters are also a step. In today’s world, even if we’re quiet and focused, the amount of data streaming past us is enormous. That’s where framing enters the equation.
If you’ve followed step 1, your mind is relaxed and open to suggestion and ready to pay attention. Now put a meaningful frame around the task, this gives it meaning, more than just a simple exercise.
When the mind is relaxed and focused, then meeting someone new can happen in an entirely different way. Look the person in the eye, form a mental image of their face, create a visual image for the name, then lilnk them for instant recall later.
Don’t be, simply think of something you already know and link the face and name to it. If it’s a woman whose name is Lisa, think of her face on the Mona Lisa painting. If the name is Mr. Eves, picture him hanging off the eve of a building, or wearing a Santa suit on Christmas eve. Use your imagination and over time you’ll get better and better and the next you see that person, you instantly know their name.
Prospective Review Time
Faces and names aren’t the only memory problem we face. Remembering to take your medicine, or bring an important file to a meeting, or pay a bill, etc.
“A major problem people have is with what we call prospective memory,” says Dr. Small. Prospective memory is the ability to recall that you need to do something in the future. “You leave the house and you forget your phone or the file you need for a meeting.”
This exercise is different, it’s called overcoming prospective memory loss and focuses on memory habits, i.e. putting your keys in the same place, keeping your medicine on the kitchen counter so you’ll remember to take it. Those are memory places, useful if you have a daily routine that takes you out of the house, but what about those of us who live in the virtual world, is there hope for us?
Yes, instead of memory places, which we’ll all likely continue to use, there is prospective review times.
At the same time of day (we’ll say 8am), check your Smartphone calendar and go through their appointments thinking about what they’ll need for them.
This may be a struggle at first, but continuing with the program will make it a mental habit, triggering your mind to review upcoming events. You’ll find you are more in control of your time, environment and memory.
While these three exercises may seem like a lot to do each day, make a commitment to do them for 30 days. If you do that, you’ll find they only take a few minutes each day, in fact, they’ll save you time and make your life, memory, and motivation, so much better.