Techniques 1. Use emphasis
Emphasis, as we have already seen, is one of the major factors in improving memory and creativity. All the techniques used for emphasis can also be used for association, and vice versa. The following laws enable you to achieve maximum and appropriate emphasis in your Mind Maps.
An image automatically focuses the eye and the brain. It triggers numerous associations and is astoundingly effective as a memory aid. In addition an image is attractive - on many levels. It attracts you, it pleases you and it draws your attention to itself.
If a particular word (rather than an image) is absolutely central to your Mind Map, the word can be made into an image by using dimension, multiple colours, and attractive form.
ise images throughout your Mind Map
Using images wherever possible gives all the benefits described above, as well as creating a stimulating balance between your visual and linguistic cortical skills, and improving your visual perception.
If you set aside your fear of being a poor artist, and attempt to draw a butterfly, for example, you may find your first image unsatisfactory. In some instances, you might fail magnificently! But the advantage is that you have tried, and the next time you see a butterfly you will want to look at it more closely in order to remember and duplicate it. Thus, by using images in your Mind Maps, you will focus more clearly on real life and will strive to improve your depiction of real objects. You will literally 'open your eyes' to the world around you.
Colours stimulate memory and creativity, enabling you to escape the danger of monochrome monotony. They add life to your images and make them more attractive.
Dimension makes things 'stand out', and whatever stands out is more easily remembered and communicated. Thus, the most important elements in your Mind Map can be emphasised by being drawn or written in three dimensions.
Use synaesthesia (the linking of the physical senses) Wherever possible, you should include in your Mind Maps words or images that refer to the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and kinaesthesia (physical sensation). This technique has been used by many of the famous memorisers, as well as by great writers and poets.
For example in his epic poem The Odyssey, an astounding work of memory, Homer uses the full range of human sensation to convey the excitement and danger of Ulysses' voyage home after the siege of Troy. In the following scene Ulysses has made the mistake of angering Neptune, god of the sea, who gets his revenge by raising a terrible storm:
'As he spoke a sea broke over him with such terrific fury that the raft reeled again, and he was carried overboard a long way off. He let go the helm, and the force oj the hurricane was so great that it broke the mast halfway up, and both sail and yard went over into the sea. For a long time Ulysses was under water, and it m all he could do to rise to the surface again, for the clothes Calypso had given him weighed him down; but at last he got his head above water and spat out the bitter brine that was running down his face in streams. In spite of all this, however; lit did not lose sight of his raft, but swam as fast as he could towards it, got hold of it and climbed on board again so as to escape drowning. The sea took the raft and tossed it about as Autumn winds whirl thistledown round and round upon a road. It was as though the South, North, East and West winds were all playing battledort and shuttlecock with it at once.'
Notice the rhythm, the repetition, the sequencing, the imagery, the appeal to f 4 the senses, the movement, the exaggeration, the colour and feeling, all contained in one masterful and memorable paragraph.
1 It is interesting to observe how young children experience nature with all I fbeir senses. They touch, taste, move and explore; then chant, sing, rhyme and pBeach other stories, creating captivating Mind Map fantasies and daydreams. I Like these children, the great memoriser Shereshevsky, known as 'S', used anaesthesia to help him remember virtually every instant of his life. In his book about'S', The Mind of a Mnemonist, Alexander Luria reports:
I 'For "S", too, it was the meaning of words that was predominantly important. Each word had the effect of summoning up in his mind a graphic image, and rshat distinguished him from the general run of people was that his images were incomparably more vivid and stable than theirs. Further, his images were invariably linked with synaesthetic components..
Movement, too, is a major mnemonic technique, and can also be used to advantage in your Mind Maps. Your words, your pictures, your whole Mind Map can move - like the wonderfully memorable animations created by Walt Disney. To make your images move, simply add appropriate visual indicators of movement, as in the following examples:
Use variations of size of printing, line and image
Variation in size is the best way of indicating the relative importance of items ma hierarchy. Expanded size adds emphasis, thereby increasing the probability of recall.
Organised spacing increases the clarity of the image, helps in the use of hierarchy and categorisation, leaves the Mind Map 'open' to additions, and is aesthetically pleasing.
Leaving the right amount of space around each item gives your Mind order and structure. Taken to its logical conclusion, the space between items can be as important as the items themselves. For example, in Japanese flower-arranging, the entire arrangement is based on the space between the flowers. Likewise, in music the sound is often arranged around the silence. Forinstanc Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony actually starts with a rest or silent note.
Association is the other major factor in improving memory and creativity. It is the integrating device our brains use to make sense of our physical experience, I the key to human memory and understanding.
Having established your central image and your Basic Ordering Ideas, the power of association can take your brain into the depths of any subject.
As already mentioned, any technique used for association can also be used for emphasis, and vice versa.
Use arrows when you want to make connections within and across the branch pattern
Arrows automatically guide your eye to connect one part of a Mind Map with another. They can be uni-directional, multi-headed, and varied in size, form and dimension. They give spatial direction to your thoughts.
Colour is one of the most powerful tools for enhancing memory and creativity. Choosing specific colours for coding purposes or for specific areas of your Mind Map will give you faster access to the information, will improve your memory of the information, and will increase the number and range of your creative ideas. Such colour codes and symbols can be developed both by individuals and by groups.
Codes enable you to make instant connections between different parts of your Mind Map, however far apart they may be on the page. These codes can take the form of ticks and crosses, circles, triangles and underlinings, or they can be more elaborate, as in the Mind Map on page 106.
Codes can also save a lot of time. For instance, you could use a range of simple codes in all your notes to represent people, projects, elements or processes that frequendy recur.
Codes reinforce and enhance categorisation and hierarchy through the simple ipplication of colours, symbols, shapes and images. They can also be used to link source material (such as biographical references) to your Mind Map.
Obscurity veils perception. If you scribble your notes they will hinder rather than help your memory.
Each individual word has thousands of possible associations. Placing one per line gives you associational freedom, like giving a limb extra joints. Important phrases are not lost. (For an extended discussion of this rule, see 'The idea that phrases are more meaningful', on page 111.)
Printed letters have a more defined shape and are therefore easier for your mind to 'photograph'. The extra time spent printing is more than made up for by the advantages of rapid creative association and recall. Printing also encourages brevity, and both upper and lower case letters can be used to show the relative importance of words on your Mind Map.
The line forms a 'skeleton' for the 'flesh' of the word. It therefore provides organisation and nearness which improve clarity and aid recall. Lines also encourage further connections and additions (see the Figures on page 114).
This law makes it easier to place words near each other, thus facilitate association. In addition, the space saved enables you to include more information in your Mind Map. (For more on this, see page 224.)
Connect lines to other lines Connecting the lines on your Mind Map enables you to connect the thoughts in your mind. Lines can be transformed into arrows, curves, loops, cirdes, ovals, triangles, polyhedrons or any of the other shapes from your brain's limitless store.
Through emphasis, thicker lines immediately signal to your brain the importance of your central ideas. If your Mind Map is at the exploratory stage, you may discover during the Mind Mapping process that some of the peripheral ideas are actually more important than the central ones. In such cases you can simply thicken the outer lines where appropriate. The organic, curved lit add more visual interest.
Make your boundaries 'embrace' your branch outline
When a boundary line 'hugs' the outline of a completed Mind Map branch, it defines the unique shape of that branch. This unique shape can then trigger the memory of the information contained in that branch. For more advanced mnemonic thinkers, such shapes can become 'living pictures', dramatically enhancing the probability of recall.
Many of us do this almost unconsciously as children. For instance, do you ever remember lying outside on a sunny day, looking up at a blue sky dappled with clouds? If you did, the chances are that you looked up at the drifting clouds and thought: 'Oh, there's a sheep!' 'There's a dinosaur!' 'There's a boat!' 'There's a bird'...
Your brain was creating images from random shapes, thus making the shapes more memorable. In the same way, creating shapes in your Mind Map will enable you to organise many bits of data in a more memorable form. This gathering of data, known as 'chunking', is a well-known mnemonic technique.
According to psychologists, our short-term memory is on average only capable of storing seven items of information. Chunking can help us use this storage space more effectively.
For example, an untrained brain-user may use all their short-term memory capacity to store a seven-digit phone number. The skilled brain-user, on the other hand, will chunk the seven digits in some meaningful way, thus leaving space for other information.
fin 1982 Chase and Erickson carried out an experiment on this aspect of memory, described by Glass and Holyoak in 1986. One subject proved to be particularly interesting. Initially he could only remember the average seven digits. However, after more than two years of practice in chunking techniques, he could remember 82 digits. His particular strategy was to chunk digits that matched information he had already stored in his long-term memory. For example, the sequence '351' was associated with a previous world record for running the mile (3 minutes 51 seconds).
So drawing boundaries on a Mind Map has obvious mnemonic advantages. If you wish to add further branches after you have drawn a boundary then the new set of branches can be enclosed by a new boundary, rather like the rings on a sawn-off tree trunk.
Make your images as clear as possible
External clarity encourages internal clarity of thought. A clear Mind Map will also be more elegant, graceful and attractive.
Keep your paper placed horizontally in front of you The horizontal ('landscape') format gives you more freedom and space to draw your Mind Map than the vertical ('portrait') position. A horizontal Mind Map is also easier to read.
Inexperienced Mind Mappers often keep the body and pen in the same position while rotating the paper. This may not cause any problems while Mind Mapping, but re-reading the Mind Map will require physiological contortions that would test the abilities of a yoga master!
Upright printing gives your brain easier access to the thoughts expressed, and this law applies as much to the angle of the lines as to the printing itself. If you keep your lines as close to horizontal as possible, your Mind Map will be much easier to read.
As already discussed, we are all astoundingly unique. Our Mind Maps sho reflect the unique networks and patterns of thought in our individual brail the more they do so, the more our brains will be able to identify with them.
In order to develop a truly personal Mind Mapping style, you should folio the '1 +' rule. This means that every Mind Map you do should be sligh more colourful, slightly more three-dimensional, slightly more imaginati" slightly more associatively logical, and/or slightly more beautiful than the last.
In this way you will constantly develop and refine all your mental skills. You will also produce Mind Maps which you want to review and use for creation and communication. In addition, the more you personalise your Mind Maps, the more easily you will remember the information they contain. (For more on this, see Chapter 11.)
Layout jL Use hierarchy
As discussed in Chapter 9, the use of hierarchy and categorisation in the form of Basic Ordering Ideas enormously enhances the power of your brain.
If your Mind Map is the basis for a specific task, such as a speech, an essay or an examination answer, you will want to communicate your thoughts in a specific order, whether chronological or in order of importance.
To do this, you can simply number the branches in the desired order, even allotting the appropriate time or emphasis to each branch if necessary. Letters of the alphabet can be used rather than numbers if you prefer. Either way, this use of order will automatically result in more logical, thought.
SUMMARY OF THE MIND MAP RECOMMENDATIONS
Break mental blocks X Add blank lines.
■ Maintain awareness of your infinite associational capacity. Reinforce
1 Review your Mind Maps. 2
M Do quick Mind Map checks. Prepare
1 Prepare your mental attitude
• Develop a positive mental attitude, t Copy images around you.
t Commit yourself to your Mind Map.
• Make your Mind Map as beautiful as possible.
M Prepare your materials
tJ Prepare your workspace I environment
• Ensure that you have a moderate temperature in the room.
• Use natural light where possible.
• Ensure that you have plenty of fresh air. t Furnish the room appropriately.
t Create pleasing surroundings.
• Play appropriate music, or work in silence if you prefer.
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Do you treat your body as your soul's best champion or as a monster that plagues you? Is it a sanctuary or a grave? Your body is your avatar (the graphic that represents you) in the physical existence. It's the character you command, and you're the consciousness that commands it.