Dr. Anthony Metivier on How to Remember Anything & Everything
After having such a great time as a guest on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, I was very excited to turn the tables around and interview Dr. Anthony Metivier as one of the very first guests on the SuperHuman Academy podcast.
Anthony is someone who's work I've admired for a long time, not only for his highly-developed thinking on memory palaces, but also for his un-intimidating approach to teaching them. Anthony has taught thousands of people all of the world how to memorize anything from a deck of cards to poetry and even vocabulary. In fact, he has been instrumental in convincing me to make memory palaces a larger part of my own superlearning skill set (and online course).
As an added bonus, Anthony has generously offered a series of free videos and worksheets to the listeners of this podcast!
In this episode, we discuss:
- How Dr. Metivier developed the Magnetic Memory Method and used it to overcome stress-related depression and difficulty during his PhD program
- How the Magnetic Memory works, and the core fundamentals of dramatically improving your memory
- How Anthony has developed 183 memory palaces, and how he uses them
- How norepinephrine benefits our brains and our memories
- What the “primacy effect” is and how to beat it
- Whether or not “innate ability” or having a good memory is fact or fiction
- The key characteristics and factors necessary to succeed in improving your memory
- Some of the requirements for adult learning to happen
- How the magnetic memory method can be used not just for vocabulary, but also for grammatical structures
- Whether or not you need to know “how it works” to actually use these methodologies
- What are some examples of loci, and what kind of loci work best?
- A live demonstration of Anthony reciting poetry using a memory palace
- What it means to store your memories “rhizomatically”
- How to insure your memory palaces using technology
- Why somebody would want to learn how to memorize a deck of cards
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus
- 8-time world memory champion Dominic O’Brien and his books
- Memory expert Harry Lorayne and his many books
- Ed Cooke’s podcast interview on the Tim Ferriss Show
- Joshua Foer and his book, Moonwalking with Einstein
- Memrise, Ed Cooke’s startup
- Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno
- The Iliad by Homer
- Bonus Resource: An article by Anthony on the blog of fellow podcast guest Benny Lewis, How to Use a Memory Palace to Boost Your Vocabulary in Any Language
- An additional article on Anthony's blog about Memory Palaces
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now, here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. I'm your host, Jonathan Levi. For those of you who don't know, I teach a course on a web platform called Udemy, which is one of the world's largest online course platforms.
And it's through that platform. And through being an instructor that I met my guest today, Dr. Anthony Metivier. He's an experienced author, consultant, and an expert in the field of memory and learning. Dr. Anthony is a fellow instructor on Udemy. And he's been a friend of mine since I originally appeared on his highly-rated podcast.
The Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. Anthony's innovations in the field of mnemonics, help him teach people all over the world. How to exceed in academics, learning languages, memorizing poetry, and a whole host of other amazing skills. This podcast goes into well, a lot of different topics, and Anthony and I cover a lot of ground from different mnemonics and memorization techniques, all the way to meditation.
So now I'm very excited to introduce you to Dr. Anthony Metivier.
So, Anthony, good evening. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time. I had so much fun with you on your podcast. The Magnetic Memory Method podcast. It was one of the things that actually inspired me to do this show. And, uh, I want to thank you for that. And I thought it'd be really fun to have you as one of our first guests.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. And I know that my audience of the Magnetic Memory Method podcast really, really responded well to your interview. And I know it sent some people to your course, so it was fantastic.
Jonathan Levi: It did. And thank you for that. And it was such a blast. And I think the audience picked up on that.
You and I kind of having this mind-meld and we had a really, really good time, and I'm sure we're going to have a great time on this podcast as well.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, absolutely. And, uh, I think people really respond to it too, because it's not really coming from Mensa or championship stuff, nothing wrong with that.
But, you know, it's just more down to earth and real application to our studies and so forth from people who use it for those purposes.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. And actually, you've been involved in memory and accelerated learning for a long time before I was. And also before it became a kind of a really trendy topic, maybe share with our audience the story of how you got into this field.
Anthony Metivier: Well, it was just happenstance and a very lucky one because I had been in graduate school in Toronto, at York University and these hard Toronto winters and something wrong with my biology sent me into a real bad depression. And I couldn't think, and I couldn't concentrate. And I had the weight of all these exams on my shoulders.
For my doctoral exams and for people who aren't in a Ph.D. program now, or have been, and they would know that there are these committees that you have to go sit in front of and they grill you over hundreds and hundreds of books that you're supposed to have covered. And I could hardly get out of bed, you know?
So it was just, just in a crazy time. And so to avoid life, to avoid facing all of this, and yeah. To avoid the horrid pain of cracking. Another book of obscure French philosophy with terms like architectonic tautology and just things that rattle your brain. I was starting to play with cards and magic tricks, and I could focus on that.
I could watch these videos. I didn't have to read a book or anything like that. Anyway, you don't get far in the world of card magic without coming across one of the Holy grails, which is a memorized deck. And, most people do some kind of trick. That's not really memorized, but there's another class of people who actually memorize the deck and there's a whole bunch of different techniques.
And I thought no way, this is crazy. And I thought I'll never be able to do this because I can't even read, you know, I can't even read Harry Potter, which is one of the books I had to read for a course where I was a teacher's assistant and barely able to get out of bed for that. And I apologize to all those students that I misdirected with showing up to class unprepared for Harry Potter.
But in any case, I tried it and it was incredible. And it's like a lightsaber through all that fog and all that inability to concentrate. And that's what really hooked me on memory techniques is it's irrelevant how bad you feel. It's irrelevant, how tired you are. It's irrelevant, how hungry you are. You can actually just go to this place in your mind and these images that you've created, right.
And they are bulletproof so long as you've created them correctly. So that was a real miraculous for me. And ever since then, just, you know, it's actually helped with a lot of concentration issues and a lot of mental confusion, but those things are still there. And I still have to take medicine for them and so forth.
But these memory skills when used properly. Just do not fail regardless of what the mood may be or the condition. And so I just kept using them and using them and studying, and I've done hundreds of hours of research and then hundreds of hours, thousands of hours, really of application and figuring out the best ways that work.
And then through a series of mysterious and unusual circumstances, I wound up. Teaching them at a school. And I wrote them down for the students and, uh, that wound up becoming a series of books and video courses. And so that's how I got there.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. Amazing. And I assume that things kind of turned around in the Ph.D. program.
Once you kind of learned how to use your memory and learned how to process all that material.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. And ridiculous, because then I was saying things like, Oh, and by the way, that's on page 19. And I mean, there's, I think for everybody who gets into this stuff, there's always a little bit of showing off period.
But, uh, nonetheless, it was incredible because I would go to these things and just. You know, be able to recall all this information and. Really crazy stuff. I mean, it's a funny story, but when I finally got to my dissertation defense, they call in a person from outside the university and outside the country, if possible, and he's called the external external, or she's called the external external, which means they're external to the program and external to the university.
And anyway, he came and they were grilling me really, really hard. And they asked some tough questions and there was someone who even wanted to fail me. And I knew she wanted to fail me really badly. And at the end he said, you know, you're cooler than Miles Davis, you hardly blinked during this whole thing at all the stress that these people were putting on you.
And, uh, I didn't even know what to say. I didn't even really know that much about Miles Davis, but I just thought it's memory, man. That's all it is. So there's nothing to be nervous about at all.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. And actually, your Magnetic Memory Method rubbed off on me quite a bit. You were one of the people who convinced me to start using.
These kinds of techniques, these special awareness techniques to put it into my course and to use it in my own daily life. But maybe our listeners don't know about the Magnetic Memory Method. They might not be familiar with mnemonics and you and I are kind of telling these awesome stories about them.
Maybe we explain what is the magnetic memory method and explain a little bit about how it works.
Anthony Metivier: Right. Well, there's a lot to it and I don't want anybody to feel cheated if I kind of gloss over certain things, but it brings together a whole bunch of elements. But the core of it is to actually use locations religiously and make the memory palace, the foundation of all this.
Because there are as many memory techniques as there are stairs to heaven in the Led Zeppelin song. There's just so many, right. But a lot of them involve just making mental associations and pictures, and they're just floating around in the void of your mind that never worked for me very well, but what always worked very well was combining the basics of memory techniques, which are creating exaggerated images and then locating them somewhere so that they could be found. And you essentially increase your chances. The more that you combine location with these exaggerated images. But then I started to go farther and I thought, what if we stopped this information in a particular way and break it down into components so that you could link sounds with parts of words and create images that are very, very integrally linked to those images and those actions that the images make. And then they're in those locations and make it more and more powerful. And it got to like Jedai levels of thinking about this and actually implementing it and applying it. And it is a bit involved to learn and it sounds.
Almost insane, but for the people who use it, they get such amazing results. It's incredible. And I've just been super pleased that it wasn't just something in my head, but something that other people could use, but there's definitely a formula to it. And there's a recipe to it. And I specifically call it a method rather than a system, because there is a need for people to adapt it to their own sort of learning style in their own ways of going about things in their own homes, their own buildings that they're familiar with. So there's universal principles that structure it, but there's a methodology that you need to adapt. It's kind of like the difference between Kung Fu or karate and wrestling. You know, you have forums in karate and you have certain if then this, that kind of interactions with your enemy, but wrestling is more. fLexible and wrapping yourself around and innovating on the fly and just, there's not as many, uh, rules as such, but there's universal principles just as long as you can flop around like a fish when you need to and get the job done. So, yeah.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. I'm actually dying of curiosity. How many memory palaces do you have?
Can you quantify them or are you in the hundreds or?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, there's now 183. Actually. It was, Oh my goodness. Last June was 175. And I've added to that since then, uh, for some various experiments, but there's a go-to amount as well. So I'm going to build some that never actually get used, but the actual building of memory palaces is an important activity in and of itself.
Even if you don't use them because it just strengthens every other one. You have it strengthens your understanding of how they work and what you can do with them. And it's just a great way of preparing yourself. It's like having extra bullets in your belt, in your Gunville.
Jonathan Levi: So you're kind of walking around your city or cities that you visit and exploring buildings with that purpose.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. I mean, a lot of people ask me, they say, you have this idea that we should be having dozens of memory palaces, where am I going to find them all? And I always just think on my street, there's still places that I haven't explored. There's like a clinic that I could go into that I've never gone into.
So if I really push came to shove. There's one. And that's not to mention the dozens of buildings on the streets around me that I've never really gone and exploited, but definitely, and every time I travel, I make special note of the hotels that I stay in because they're all perfect for their own little tiny memory, palaces, admittedly, but they can be quite useful.
And there's another good reason to use memory palaces that you build from travel. And that's because when we're in novel locations or new locations, we've never been to the brain secretes, something called norepinephrine. That makes things a lot more memorable when we, uh, have this chemical rolling around in our brain, which tends to happen when we're traveling.
So those can become super powerful memory palaces. If you choose to focus on them in that way.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible plus the benefit of remembering more of your vacation and that's huge benefit.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. It kinda goes along with that feeling where you feel it, you can really, really remember your first time in a city.
And when you first arrived there, those first couple of days can be very, very impactful. And that has a lot to do with that chemical.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. So one of the important, steps for me when I kind of became what I call a SuperLearner was to understand the differences between working memory short-term memory, and long-term memory.
So now that we understand a little bit about how your method works, can you give us an idea of how you managed to create memories that stick, not just in your short-term memory a month or two till you deliver your thesis, but for years and years and years,
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, it's really quite simple. I mean, there are different theories and all kinds of things.
And one of the guys who had theories that are half correct and half tested and debunked, and still very interesting one way or the other is a guy named Herman Ebbinghaus, but he had these ideas like. The forgetting curve. And he basically suggested that there's something called the premise, the effect, which is that if you were given a list of words, you would remember the first and second and third words very well.
And then maybe the last three and four words very well, but in the middle, there would be this decay. And I thought about that a lot and tested it. And it seems pretty well correct, but I thought there's gotta be a way to hack this. And so if you had a memory palace, For example, and there were 15 stations you would experience that primacy effect, but the way to hack it is to actually go forward through the memory palace, go back through the memory palace, start in the middle of the Memory palace, go back to the front, start in the middle and go to the end and then leapfrog over all those stations.
And you do this about five times. A day or for a few days. I mean, it sounds kind of weird to be doing this, but you know, how many times did you go to the washroom and you could do this with a list of really, really important information. And that's just to be Bulletproof, but you can do a lot less, but that's just kind of the Bulletproof thing.
If it really counts that you have this information, it's kind of like being a spaced repetition software machine organically. And not relying on external technology to do the repetition for you, but deciding what your list is or what kinds of information you're memorizing and actually visiting it intentionally.
And that's, what's going to get it into long-term memory. And Dominic O'Brien has the rule of five, but I think the rule of five is not enough. It should be like a little bit more rigorous, five times. A day for five days. And then after that once a week for maybe five weeks and something like that, and then you're really going to get it into long-term memory.
Jonathan Levi: Wow. So I know you have some very successful books on learning languages and poetry. And again, you've been providing my mentorship and guidance in publishing my own book. But, uh, what are some other applications that your students use? The Magnetic Memory Method for, with success?
Anthony Metivier: Oh, there's so much, for instance, programming languages.
I know that basically is language, but the application is quite different in the sense that those are pretty obscure codes and whatnot. And then there's mathematical formulas and, you know, just practical things with numbers. A lot of people couldn't tell you what their credit card number is. For example, And that's an incredibly useful thing to know, actually the amount of time you can spend looking for your wallet and digging it out and going back to the computer and typing it out and getting it wrong, you know, you can really change your life just by having your credit card number and the amount of time you spend.
And yeah, there's all kinds of things. There's people who have used some of the techniques that I teach in my names and faces course to memorize. Or get a better sense of locations that they've visited so they can actually go and paint them. So that's been an interesting thing that I hadn't heard of before.
And then there's just the general boost in critical and creative thinking that people experience because of how this opens them up to different ways of using their minds and their creative intelligence. So it spills out all over the place.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely, actually that raises another question, especially talking about creativity.
And I know some people think creativity is innate. Others kind of understand that it's very largely training, but my question would be, can anyone do this? You know, I have some strong opinions on it considering I also teach accelerated learning, but I'm curious to hear whether you've seen a difference in some sort of innate ability in all the students you've worked with or do some people just generally have a better memory out of the box.
Anthony Metivier: You know, I don't know if anybody has a better memory out of the box, but there seems to be that phenomenon. There seems to be that feeling. And I find that when you ask people who just have a quote-unquote natural memory, they usually describe a process that is very close to what happens in mnemonics.
They just sort of doing it anyway without having to train. But it isn't really the case that anybody has some special edge on other people because the people who win all the memory championships there as dull as doorknobs, that those techniques, you know, and I mean, they're all great people, but they'll always be the first person to admit that.
I don't know. I mean, I couldn't do this without those techniques. I'm just a plumber or whatever they may be. So there's nothing particularly innate, but there is one kind of criteria I believe. And that is actually wanting to achieve the outcome. And it seems being interested in doing the work and getting a kind of kick out of it, because if you're not having fun, then I don't think all of the cheerleading in the world is going to get you over the hump of doing something that makes you miserable.
And I don't understand why it would make anybody miserable, but some people just don't have fun with it. And I have to accept that. And I've done all kinds of clowning around and jokes. Yeah. Fun and games, and there's still people who don't enjoy doing it. So I think that that's really the great divide is having fun or not having fun.
And that applies to just about anything.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. Definitely. One of the things that we added to our course was an explanation of Malcolm Gladwell's work. This guy in the 1950s basically figured out that there are six requirements for information to get in and stay in for an adult learner. And one of them is, yeah, it's do they enjoy the material?
And do they have a practical application, which is to say, you know, kids, a lot of kids in a younger age will learn because they're told they have to. And with adults, it just doesn't work that way. You need to know why you're learning it. You need to feel respected. You need to be able to tie it to your day-to-day life and understand how you're going to use it.
Or it's just not going to happen.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, I think there's two real things that this reminds me of with adults and not having fun with the memory techniques is cause they don't always completely understand why thinking about crazy monkeys, cutting cheese off of the Statue of Liberty is going to help them remember something.
And they also. Often feel very compressed and restricted and they don't allow their imaginations to produce that kind of imagery so they can be quite conservative. And that is another sort of issue. But if they allow themselves to relax and have fun, then I think they'll find that their imaginations are much more equipped to create the kind of zany images that become memorable that allows you to encode information in order to have this kind of fun.
So. Right. It's not that they aren't fun. It's just that there's a lot of barriers to finding them as fun. So.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And I think, honestly, your method added a lot of fun. You and I talked about it a little bit when I was a guest on your podcast and it kind of influenced me. And since then, first off, I have a lot more fun.
I'm personally learning Russian right now, which can be to put it later. Not very fun, but, uh, I'm having a lot more fun and I can learn usually about 20 new words in a 20 or 30 minutes session. And I use these really fun, outrageous visual markers that you gave me. For instance, the Russian word for open is otkrytyy.
And I think about myself with a migraine standing in front of a closed pharmacy. Just shaking my head in this. Absolute pain or, you know, I can picture myself with a bullet wound, heaven forbid and thinking, you know, the pharmacy ought to be open because it's critical. Right. So all it's creating and that's been really, really helpful.
My question and I have a little bit of a personal motive on this. What about learning grammar? I'm struggling quite a bit with Russian grammar and I'm sure you've overcome this in the many languages you teach through your books.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. With the exception of English, I haven't produced anything specifically about memorizing grammar, but the principles are more or less the same.
So basically if you had a memory palace and you want it to focus on some grammar, the first thing to do would be to figure out what grammar you want to focus on. So instead of being overwhelmed by the giant engines of grammar, you just pick one. So for instance, declensions of verbs or whatever, and then you start in one corner and you think about how that, that is declined for that particular piece of language.
And you follow that linearly. So in Spanish, for example, you have your, for I, and then you have two for you and then you have Ello AAF or he, or she, and, you know, you have all these things. And so you put those in corners and then you add the next thing. So. You know what I'm saying? Like you add what the next word part is.
So if you get to AAOS, which is the last one, that list in Spanish, then you would see a big sun. So that would be a yellow sun, right? Or two areas. You would see a big statue of Aries. In that location, interests doing something really, really crazy, you know, things like that. And it's just, and I'm just going to my own memory palaces for that.
And so then you go to the next set of principles and you go to the next set of principles and you just blade them out. In essence, you make images that create the examples and you create a kind of crib sheet. And then what you do is you go out ASAP. Once you've got the stuff in your memory and you start writing sentences and you start speaking and you start listening to the language every day.
And you add that memorized material to a flow of other encounters, because the more that you include the memory techniques and the memorization process with reading, writing, speaking, and listening, then you create an ecosystem and things can get very, very fast after that.
Jonathan Levi: Right. I definitely need to do that.
I hadn't thought of actually breaking down the connecting words and stuff like that. And you know, in Russia and you have, I think it's 18 different ways to say this, which can be very challenging. So I need to start creating these visual images. For each one of those different variants, it sounds like.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. I mean, that's what I would do. And I would have them patterned out against a memory palace and then do that exact thing forward, backward from the middle to the front, from the middle to the back. And then a bit of a leapfrogging from station to station, like one, three, five, seven, or two, four, six, eight.
And, uh, you'll really get a lot of speed and quick, rapid into the midterm and long-term memory acquisition. And then again, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Cause you can use all the memory techniques in the world, but it's not going to lead to fluency without those other big four activities.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely, definitely.
Anthony Metivier: And tell you why I came up with this is because I'm pretty good at those other four activities is the only person was, I can't remember a damn thing. So it's really been the magic bullet, so to speak. I mean, it's a magic bullet. It takes effort to take it out of your gun belt and put it in the gun and roll the chamber and pointed at the target and shoot the gun.
That's all effort and so forth. But once that bullet is spinning, I mean, it's as magical as it gets.
Jonathan Levi: Right, right. I had a little bit of a kind of, not arguing, but a disagreement with my partners when we were building our course because I'm of the belief that people need to understand how it works and people should understand just a little bit of the neuroscience behind mnemonics.
And how do they work? Why does your brain respond to this stuff? Do you think that that's the case? Or do you think that it's something like with a good technology product? What are the confusion and the technicalities should be hidden from the end-us?
Anthony Metivier: Well, I had the great honor to interview Harry Lorraine, who people probably know that name.
He's. Really one of the Kings of the memory training world. And I asked him the same question. I said, you know, you talk in your books all the time about how people don't care about the science. They just want to know how it works. And I tend to fall on that myself. Although I've had criticism from a podcast listener who said that I have deeply undercut my credibility because of how I dismiss science and the science of memory, but that's not.
Technically true. And it's also because I do kind of fall in that camp that if you're interested in the science, by all means, go and study it, but it is in and of itself, not the recipe to get results. So I mean, there's no right answer to it, but I know for myself when I'm reading books and I start getting into memory books, and then they start explaining to me about why it all works and how it all works in the brain.
I just skipped over it because the one thing that's very important actually for people to know is that science is a process it's in process. Everything that you read about science is going to be improved upon it's going to be changed, but that's not going to be changed. Are the fundamental techniques of how memory skills work.
They're ancient, there's innovations that come now. And again, when somebody comes up with things that other people can copy and use for themselves, they're pretty rare, but they happen. But in principle, those universal techniques are not going to change. So again, I don't mean to undercut science, but I still fall in that camp that if you're interested in it, there's loads of books about it.
But if you want to get the results from memory techniques, the science isn't going to change the fundamental techniques, and they not really going to give you some deep insight about how they work. What's going to give you insight about how they work is learning them and using them. And you're going to learn more from using them.
Then you are about reading them. So there's more to movement than meditation and reading about the science is a form of meditation rather than taking it out.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting. Yeah. You mentioned that there are innovations every year and these techniques, and I think that's one of the interesting things. Also, you mentioned that you know, these are thousand-year-old techniques and both of those are topics that come up in Joshua Foer's recent book Moonwalking With Einstein. I think that's an interesting book because it's really brought to the mass public, the techniques that you've been teaching for years or that, you know, the Greeks were using 2000 years ago. What do you think about the recent popularity of guys like Josh Foer or Ed Cook?
Some of these memory athletes who are winning champions and stuff like that.
Anthony Metivier: Well, I think it's fantastic. There's absolutely nothing to criticize. Although, you know, with Moonwalking with Einstein, if you go and read the reviews, a lot of people are disappointed that he doesn't actually teach the techniques.
He sort of glosses over them, but it's really a book of cultural history and this phenomenon of what is sort of an underworld, you know, not that many people know about memory championships and so forth. So it's a really, really interesting book and it's brought a lot of attention to these ancient techniques.
Ed Cook also with memorize and the things that he does, and there's a really great interview with him recently on a Tim Ferriss podcasts that I recommend people. Listened to at least the first hour after that they kind of get drunk, but.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, yeah, they ended up in the woods as that podcast often does, but it's really enjoyable how Ed kind of walks through and he tricks Tim into memorizing this list of really ridiculous stuff that gets back to the thing about having fun.
Anthony Metivier: You really got to trick yourself into doing it because then you see how much fun it is and you get hooked and things really changed for you. But I think that really what it comes down to a lot of these. People and then not for, or Cook in particular, but the whole world that has been around for a long time and is just growing and growing is that a lot of people use the word system and there are no systems.
There's just methods that allow you to create your own system. And I think that things would be a lot easier for people. If more of these big names in memory would make that clear. So that's really, really important. Yeah. I mean, it's just been this kind of idea of it being a system since Giordano Bruno did his stuff in the 16th century.
I don't know if people are aware of him, but he had these really complicated books that he wrote for royalty and well, or at least so that they would fund the printing of the books. They were always dedicated to royalty. Right. And yeah, he just created these massive systems, but he just says, you know, use these instead of here's the principles behind how the I've used these so that you can map at your own learning style and your own interest and your own homes on top of them.
And so that's really what a lot of these books have been about. They've been about how the other person used them, but not extracting. The methodology behind it and making that as clear as possible.
Jonathan Levi: So, yeah. Yeah. I think you're absolutely right. I think the actual nuts and bolts are much more obscure. I mean, down to like the nitty-gritty things, like what kind of loci or locations or anchor points are better than others?
Am I supposed to be storing my memories? On a bookshelf or can I put, you know, a couple of memories on a bed it's like the real nitty-gritty details of, okay, great. I've built my memory palace. How do I actually use this thing? And what do I put in it and where?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah.
Hat's basically been the core of my success because I go into all of that stuff in detail.
I've written more than a thousand pages, just. With those specifics about, can you use a bit, can you use under your bed? Can you go underneath the sheets? I mean, every, every possibility I've gone through one way or the other, and yet at the same time, hardly a month goes by when someone doesn't email me with some new application that they're using that I never thought of before.
Jonathan Levi: So it's pretty interesting.
Anthony Metivier: Pretty crazy.
Jonathan Levi: I'd actually be very fascinated. I assume our audience would be as well. Can you walk me through maybe one of the first sentences you learned in another language and tell me what words or were out of curiosity?
Anthony Metivier: Sentences in another language. Okay. That's interesting because I actually don't normally memorize sentences, just vocabulary.
And then, because, because I know the grammar, then it's not really that I memorize phrases. I'm more focusing on vocabulary. So nothing leaps to mind, but I can give something in English because memorizing poetry is more where I would use that. And I'll explain exactly how it works. So there's a famous little book called the Alien.
By some guy named Homer and he says, well, this is a particular translation. This is Dryden's translation. There's others that you'll come across. If this what I'm about to say, it doesn't quite match what you've come across. And it says of play a song Achilles sing, amuse the vengeance, deepen deadly Wentz to Greece on numbered arose.
And that's really the first. It's not even the first sentence, but it's the first major statement. And to do this, I created a memory palace, and actually, I was memorizing it to demonstrates to a coaching client. I had exactly how this could be done. And I use her school because she had a school. She still has a school.
So I used the coffee room where coffee is made. And then beside that, there's a wall that has a painting. And then there's an office that I sometimes, uh, worked in myself and then there was a classroom and that's all that was needed for this particular thing. So you want me to go through unpack that?
How that works?
Jonathan Levi: Sure. If you don't mind, I find it very fascinating.
Anthony Metivier: Okay, so, well, here's where I have to actually press my memory because I, you know, you, you don't really need the training wheels after a while. But basically what I saw was Brad Pitt who played Achilles in, uh, the movie Troy and he's kicking a pale.
So Peleus son of a play, a son Achilles single muse. He's kicking the pale at the Statue of Liberty who's singing. And she gets hit in the head by this pale, which makes her feel vengeance. And she's also at the same time digging in the dirt, the vengeance deep and deadly, and throwing it at a map of Greece that has replaced this painting.
That's on the wall in this school. So once degrees and then I'm standing at this office door. Wiping away numbers on the chalkboard, whence degrees, unnumbered ILS arose. And you might notice that I'm not accounting for every single word in that line, but just enough. And that's an important question that a lot of people have.
Do I have to have an image for every single word and the answer is no, you just need to have enough that you want to honor your mind and let it fill in the blanks. You say potato, I say. Potato, right? Like you can fill in the blanks and your, your mind has that kind of ability. So you give it space. But as beginners, you might want to do word for word, but it's really just a simple image.
Brad Pitt kicking a pale at the Statue of Liberty. Who's digging in the earth, throwing the dirt at a map and I'm wiping away numbers.
Jonathan Levi: So I've noticed that you can press those symbols, that we talk a little bit about this in my course, where you want to create linkages between them. So it's not a statue of Brad Pitt and then a statue of a pill, but rather Brad Pitt kicking the pale.
And that's in one location in your memory palace.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, the real secret to it is that it's a vignette, that's strong along a journey and it has space in it. So a lot of people will try to do that same thing inside of a single room or inside of a single image as you're suggesting. But I think that the fluidity comes from giving it space and obviously the entire, it would require a lot more space than this one school would offer.
But that's just how it works. And if you wanted to, then you could find all that space to do the entire Elliot, and people do it. It's not unusual actually when you look into it, there's all kinds of people who are walking around with entire books in their head.
Jonathan Levi: Well, I think it's interesting that you said in people do about the Elliot because people did.
And one of the things I found so fascinating about four's book is he talks about some researchers who figured it out. That most of Homer's works were written and reproduced for so many years with memory palaces, just by the structure of the texts, they were able to figure out that, you know, you wouldn't really write it this way, unless someone was trying to convert it to a visual symbol and the story wouldn't kind of double back on itself.
If it wasn't being, you know, somewhere along the way someone crossed their own memory journey. And I think it's just so fascinating because these books are known for being huge, you know, volumes and very, very long works that actually were committed for thousands of years to memory.
Anthony Metivier: Well, sure. There was only eating, drinking, going to war, and memorizing, you know, right.
Hit or reciting what they memorized.
Jonathan Levi: But it's amazing, you know, it's amazing as a species, what we did before we had these tools, you know, that in a lot of ways, help us, but in a lot of ways, I mean, who even knows any of their friends' phone numbers anymore, much less credit card numbers or anything like that?
When I was a kid, I knew. All my friends' phone numbers, and then cell phones came out so slowly, but surely we've completely obliterated the skill of memory as a species and as a culture, which is just a shame.
Anthony Metivier: Well, yeah, but at the same time, what's so interesting to me is that it's at the same moment that we appear to be eradicating our memories through technology.
Those memory techniques have basically come into a Renaissance. Right? So it's almost like the tidal wave has built the ship, uh, that will save you from the storm.
Jonathan Levi: Right? Well, and also in Homer's time, someone was very, very lucky to come across one or two or three or 10 such stories, the entirety of mythology and stuff like that was just about everything they were learning.
Whereas today, I try to read two books a month and I try to read 10 blog posts and articles a day. And so we don't digest and read, digest, and reprocess the material. We're really going for breadth more than depth.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, that's true. There was always a saying when I was a student that you're better off mastering one book than knowing a thousand.
And to the extent that that's, I mean, that's a bit exaggerated, but there is that question that I often think about when I read certain things is. This is so much of what I'm reading is either ignorant of or grounded in things that I already know from having a more traditional training. And that does come from knowing a few books really, really well, rather than a thousand, not so well at all.
If you know what I mean.
Jonathan Levi: Actually that raises another question. If I can kind of dig a little deeper into the Magnetic Memory Method that I think there's two ways to organize, you know, say I do a lot of reading about programming and technology in general, and I could organize it by, you know, here's a book that I read and every single book gets its own palace or it could be grouping.
Right. So any blog post I read goes into a palace about Ruby on rails. If it happens to touch on that, Just as an example. So do you group information book by book in its own palace or do you kind of take subjects and put them into their own palaces and many sources can feed one palace.
Anthony Metivier: Well, it really depends on what's going on.
When I was studying for my dissertation defense, for example, I made memory policies per philosopher, and it wasn't as if, you know, Jack Derrida would mention Fuko or vice versa that, uh, I would somehow, you know, have to have this big confusion of what I was going to do. It's just that they kept independent based on who they were and that person and the incident.
Those memory palaces had what I call a bridging figure. And those bridging figures would be those philosophers and just sort of follow them around through their adventures and to be able to recall this stuff, but in terms of like branching out and having tunnels between this and that, I don't deliberately build that because it builds itself anyway.
Right. You know what I'm saying? That was what I call rhizomatic, in which a lot of knowledge and education is taught in a top-down tree structure. So you go from the branches down through the trunk, into the roots, but a rhizome is something that's more beneath the earth and spreads out laterally and can even pop up new bulbs in ways that don't even seem connected to the original plant.
And so it can go up down left, right, and center diagonal and all kinds of different permutations can just pop out of anywhere. But I think that that's best produced by having a kind of a grid. That you don't deliberately try to interweave too much other than you interweave it, based on your understanding of the world, around you, using those buildings that you know, to deliberately create well-structured journeys and memorize stuff there.
And the actual connections will happen on their own.
Jonathan Levi: Right. That's super interesting. Have you ever made a list on pen and paper or on the computer of your 183 memory palaces and what they contain or is that complete blasphemy? Well, again, that depends on what the project is and it's not blasphemy
it's insurance. Right. And it's right. And it's actually the best thing to do because you're getting multiple modalities going at the same time. So basically you asked me before about mid-term and long-term memory, and this is basically one really great way to use it, right. Paper and pen or your computer in combination with these techniques.
So let's say you got a list of 50 words that you want to memorize, and you have a 50 station memory palace, and you actually have that memory palace in your mind. And do you have it as an XL file? So one to 50 and it lists the station and then it lists the word that you've memorized. And another column lists the meaning of the word or one or two meetings.
You don't want to overburden it at first, you can go back and add later. And then the next column has the record of the image that you created. So as you're going along, making your associative imagery, You make a record of it. You can do it on pen or with paper, or you can do it with an Excel file. And then you're going to go and remove yourself from that source material.
No books, no dictionaries, no computer, nothing. Just your piece of paper and a writing device, pen or pencil. And then you reproduce everything from your mind. And you go and check it against the record and that's the full bore method here. And again, you can do this with the forward and back and from the middle to the end and all those different ways that I was talking about, but do it on paper completely from your mind.
And you're achieving multiple things at the same time. You're deepening your knowledge of your memory, palaces, and your memory techniques. You're deepening your knowledge of what it is that you're studying. You're deepening your ability to use imagination and imagery and actions. And you're deepening your discipline to actually sit and be able to reproduce information from your mind.
And then you're rewarding yourself by going back to that list and seeing, Oh my goodness, this is 90% correct. 98%, correct. 88%. Correct. And it's just. Gives you the basis to make corrections and go back and say, well, Batman hitting a cat with toast is really not working. So I got to make that cat a battle tiger or whatever, and then you can make corrections and that again makes you more imaginative.
Right. And it gives you more exposure to what it is that you're trying to memorize. So it's just a completely different way of approaching information and working with information that's fun and exciting and more interesting than just trying to hammer it into your head with pure, raw repetition. Sure.
Yeah. I think you've inspired me. I've been working on Russian with the tips you gave me last time, but I think I'm going to try and commit it to actual physical locations in a memory palace. The only issue is Pushkin who the Russians love to admire, and they have the saying that. Pushkin is our everything right.
Their languages, what they're most proud of in their culture. The guy knew 50,000 words, which is why there's a lot of rumors about him. Similar to there were about Shakespeare that, you know, there could not have been one person writing this work. So I'm going to need to really start accumulating. Quite a bit of memory palaces, you know, maybe a one for words that start with O.
And one for words that start with P and so on and so forth.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. A lot of people think I'm pretty crazy for suggesting that, but the benefit of doing that is that you don't have to learn 50,000 words. Right. Because when you're using an alphabetized memory palace system, you're actually studying how the language works itself in a much more detailed way to the point that you can just start guessing what words mean.
And you're not going to be right all the time, but your familiarity with the structure of words and how that they're patterned out develops really in this rhizomatic way that I was suggesting. Right. So, yeah. You can read quite easily. And you know, we do it in our own mother tongue. Anyway, we read and we go, ah, what does that word mean again?
Or I never heard that word, but you get the context and you just keep going or you make note of it and check it out later. And so 50,000 words in Russian would be absolutely fantastic, but whether it's a requirement to understand Pushkin, I don't know.
Jonathan Levi: I'd be happy with it. The 10,000 words at this point. And the words, like I said are only a very small part of the challenge of such a complex language.
Yeah. So you mentioned in the beginning of the podcast memorizing cards, and I happened to pick up as I was doing my research for this podcast, you actually just released the new course on Udemy, on memorizing cards. Tell me a bit about that. I've never actually had the motivation to do it myself. I know how it's done and some of the latest techniques in compressing, but maybe, you know, explain why someone would want to learn that skill, why it might appeal.
Anthony Metivier: Well, there's lots of reasons why, I mean, it's one of those things, a game where it just sounds absolutely crazy. Why would anybody want to do this?
Jonathan Levi: But unless they're going to Vegas, in which case, you know, if you can memorize four decks of cards, In order you might be in pretty good shape.
Anthony Metivier: You'd certainly give yourself a small advantage.
Yeah. Like maybe 1 to 2% advantage, but especially if you can do a number calculation system as well, like with blackjack, but right. The thing is that, well, I mean, I just gave that example from the Elliot. Right. And I talked about having space in between things and yeah. One of the things that really makes my card memories a method rather than a system is a unique, is that it teaches you to create that space between things.
And it's not necessarily the fastest way to memorize cards. And I don't teach it as a speed drill as such, although you will get faster, I teach it as a creativity drill and getting better at using locations in combination with images. So if you're interested in memory techniques, that's one thing that it will help you do is you can apply.
These card drills to everything else that you want to memorize. And it's something that you can do for five minutes before you memorize foreign language vocabulary, just to get the mind warm and right. There's other benefits too, just in terms of being something that you can carry around with you to practice and you can get apps for it as well.
And you're just studying how your mind's working, and you're thinking about your creative imagination and you're applying your creative imagination and there's also something to the repetitiveness of it. So. And I'm like running where you get to a jogger's high, you train yourself to feel that, and you can apply that feeling to other things.
Jonathan Levi: Fascinating. So it's really a very good way to practice the entire methodology in a standardized way. I mean, every deck of cards, you know, a standardized deck of cards looks the same, has the same characters. And so people all over the world I guess, are practicing the skill and it's a great way to develop. Subsets of that skill that can be then applied to memorizing credit cards and phone numbers.
Is that kind of what you're saying?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. And the other thing that's neat about it is that it's a real nice combination of concrete and abstract things. And that's a really great thing to have mastery of, especially if you're going to learn foreign language vocabulary and grammar principles, is this kind of.
He recognizes it. You know, what letters are, you know, what sounds are, that was what the concrete parts and yet what their meaning is, is completely abstract. So what's the meaning of seven of diamonds, nothing, but you learn to apply meaning to it because you create it through a process, into an image. And by taking things that are largely abstract and applying imagery to them, You get very, very good, very fast at applying that to anything else.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And any new piece of knowledge, especially with foreign languages, for example, you start out with something like the seven of hearts. That means nothing right now and needs to soon means something very real and tangible and memorable to you. So I can definitely see how applying that and learning to apply that.
Would have huge repercussions, positive repercussions for it. Anything you want to learn?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. And the way I teach it is actually quite different than most people teach it. So it definitely explores other things. And if you do listen to Ed Cook's interview and see some of his videos on YouTube, he has a completely different way of doing it.
And mine is less arbitrary. So if you are into that kind of way that he approaches it or the Dominique, uh, method of approaching it, that's totally fine. Yeah. But there's a way that's much less arbitrary and based more snugly on principles that can reduce some of that arbitrariness.
Jonathan Levi: Very cool. So I really enjoyed it actually.
The last time I listened to your podcasts or it happened to be an episode where you shared a message that you had from a student who was really impacted by your methods. And I found that. A, to be a really great thing to include in a podcast, but be super inspirational. Do you have any recent stories that you've gotten or recent messages that you might want to share about some students' success?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, I mean, almost every day something comes, but there was a, there was a student who was really stressed out about the exams that he had coming up. And it was actually really, really nice because he'd never even bought anything yet, but just sort of. Cobbled everything together from my podcast. And he thanked me and he said, I got 98% on this test.
And it was just unbelievable. And then he bought my masterclass, which is not on Udemy, but its own separate thing. And it was just kind of like this big, thank you because of the results that he got from the Magnetic Memory Method, and yeah. There's people all around the world. I heard from a guy in Italy, who's just super happy that he's making so much progress with the dictionary and that he got, and I suggested that he look at a particular kind of dictionary that he was able to find.
And it's just incredible. I heard from a law student today. Who's working on Latin in order to get a better understanding of the law. And he's doing really great. And he's even teaching this approach at school now, and the Dean has invited him to give a presentation about it. So it's just really spreading like wildfire and this particular approach, which is great.
I'm very happy. Yeah. But if it just even gets interested in memory techniques in and of itself, because to me that's really the most important thing is that people just start to see the magic and the power of this and just do something because there's so much suffering in the world that has to do with memory.
And there's so much opportunity that's lost because people can't achieve their goals without it. And there's just that suffering is simply not necessary.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. I also struggled a great deal through high school and to a larger extent, uh, you know, when a lot of the memory stuff was happening was when I was a lot younger and, you know, I just suffered and suffered through history class and through math class, largely because of memory.
And there's no real teaching of this in academia, which I just find mind-boggling like nobody ever stopped to explain to me that I needed to create visual memories, not until after college. And I was lucky to run into someone like yourself, you know, who is an expert. And I tell that whole story kind of in my courses, but I just think what if I never encountered this?
And I went through my entire life thinking that there was this huge barrier to learning today. I'm learning. Had a podcast and I'm learning how to blog and I'm learning all this kind of different stuff that it doesn't phase me at all to approach a new language in my free time, because learning has become this fun friction-free process.
And I just think what a shame that people think they have to suffer. To learn.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. Well, I mean, there's all kinds of theories about why schools exist in the first place, but don't as I have to get into that, but for anybody who's suffering from school, know that there's light at the end of the tunnel and, and, uh, you can start using these things now to make your school experience a whole lot more enjoyable if you're still somewhere in the middle of the road.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. And it becomes a, I've also heard from a number of my students. If you're dealing in a traditional academic setting, Where, uh, you know, concessions are made for the fact that learning is very hard for people who do it wrong to kind of be not politically correct. But once you started using these kinds of techniques, the kind that you and I both teach, it becomes like fishing with dynamite.
These 98% test results are pretty common among people who know how to apply the proper methods. And I just think that's so much fun that you probably have students all over the world who are setting the curve and really angering their classmates. And it's simple stuff that's accessible online and, you know, takes a little bit of training.
Anthony Metivier: I think that thing about angering their fellow classmates. One thing that I always tried to do and just about every message I send is if you've learned something from this, pass it on, because two things happen. You get better at them. Cause something taught is something learned twice. Of course, you also.
Get to help those other people. There's no competition in the world. People who are tied up in competition are really just hurting themselves. So it's just an important thing too.
Jonathan Levi: Of course, of course. And all in good fun. Of course.
Anthony Metivier: But fishing with dynamite is a great metaphor and, and I think that's, that also raises the important thing that you and I, as teachers.
And if you do take up these skills, becoming a teacher of them is that we really need people who know how to fish and aren't waiting for fish to land in their boat. And so that's really been my great passion and in how I approach teaching in terms of showing how it's done, rather than giving lots of examples of how to do it.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. And that is without a doubt. Uh, one of the most rewarding, if not the most rewarding part of teaching is forget the ego boost. Forget all that stuff. It's when you get an email from a kid who has been seeing a psychiatrist for years and years about severe add and stuff like that. And all of a sudden gets to stop seeing that psychiatrist, the psychiatrist cuts in back to once every two months meetings because Hey, you're getting 90% on all your exams and you're not having suicidal thoughts before every exam.
That's a really, really impactful thing. So a what's next for you? If you don't mind sharing, what are you working on?
Anthony Metivier: I'm about to release a book on sleeping.
Jonathan Levi: Really. That's actually another topic you and I share a lot of interest in, do tell.
Anthony Metivier: Well, it's, it's probably one of the most or unique books on sleeping.
That's out there. I've certainly never encountered anything like this and I've been using it for years. And so the book ends it'll eventually be a video course. It's called the Ultimate Sleep Remedy How To fall Asleep Anytime In Any Place. With Ease. This life-changing no-nonsense, rapid results guide to getting better rest and more sanity in your waking life, which is one of these grades long titles.
Jonathan Levi: But yeah, I was going to say, do you have a memory palace to remember the title? When people ask you a cocktail bar, l
Like you have
Anthony Metivier: to, when you write titles that long, but yeah, basically I. One of the things about a lot of sleep, remedy books and trainings and stuff like that is that they tell you that you shouldn't stay in bed.
If you can't sleep and go out of bed until you feel tired and then go back to bed. And that's something that I've found is true to a certain extent. But there's a better way. And I talk about that. And then the other thing is that there are all kinds of sleep rituals. So brush your teeth at the same time and go to the bathroom two hours before you sleep or whatever.
And we're not robots. Nobody is going to brush their teeth at the same time. Every night. What we need is the ability to lay down in bed. And fall asleep. So what I teach is being comfortable laying in bed, no matter how painful it is to sit there and not be able to sleep, and learn to be comfortable in that situation.
And that's the true path to sleeping at will basically is to just think about sleep completely differently and think about lying in bed differently. So I wrote a whole book about it.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. I have two questions on that. The first is, do you think you can teach me to fall asleep sitting up because I'm one of these guys.
If I'm not laying on either my stomach or my side, it's not going to happen, which makes long haul flights. Absolutely miserable.
Anthony Metivier: Well, yeah, I think that this would work for sitting up and I've sort of used it that way in terms of just being generally relaxed, but not as a sleep remedy, but I'm sure that it will address that need as well.
Jonathan Levi: And my second question, and you've already sold me. So that's that, but my second question, are you a believer in, by phasic or polyphasic sleep?
Anthony Metivier: I don't know that much about it. And I've done some reading about it and experiments and so forth. But again, it's kind of one of these things where I'm personally not such a person that has such rhythms and to even try and get on the surfboard, let alone ride.
The wave is just going to be. Not something that I would gladly happily do. And just the rhythms of my day don't respond to it. And so it would just be a losing battle to do that kind of life hacking.
Jonathan Levi: Right now, I've actually found a specifically in grad school. I found that the nap worked really well, but anything above that, you know, getting into the two, three, four naps a day, just completely Retallick on my lifestyle.
So I thought I'd ask if you similarly had experimented with it.
Anthony Metivier: Well, I certainly have used napping, but there's a moment in napping where your brain will start to secrete crema, sorry, secrete chemicals, not gremlins, but chemicals. I think I was about to say, all right, we'll start just to create these chemicals that puts you into the position of longer-term sleeping. And so that's why you often feel hungover and worse off than when you went to sleep. And so I think that meditation has always worked better for me, but again, in my mind, but again, it's not like with a clock, ding, ding, time to meditate, or anything like that.
I think that the real power of meditation is actually to meditate all the time. It's like nonstop shopping, you know, You're just developing a kind of awareness. And of course, that awareness is broken, but you can get it longer and longer and longer and become more conscious and aware for a greater length of time.
And then combine that with sitting. But I always loved Alan Watts's idea of sitting just to sit and as being the ultimate meditation.
Jonathan Levi: Right. When you say sit, I mean, a lot of meditation enthusiasts use the term set and they actually mean sit for Vipassana meditation. I get the sense. You mean just sit quietly eyes open kind of thing, or?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, because basically what happens if you sit just to sit, then you're going to fall into those other. Sort of techniques and strategies. Anyway, you're going to shoot there and you're going to be aware eventually if there's, you're just sitting there and you'll start to laugh or whatever, and you'll come into basically quote-unquote enlightenment.
I mean, enlightenment is only five minutes away. It's just sitting just to sit and just, just wait for something to happen. Don't move until something happens and you'll know enlightenment very quickly. So at least that's my feeling. I mean, I've developed it to a certain thing, but I just, I love these moments where I'm just walking around the streets and I went shopping or whatever, and I suddenly catch myself not present at all.
And I just start to laugh because it's just the most hilarious thing to be mindless.
Jonathan Levi: Yes. Well, and it's the most common thing on the planet as well. Right? I think the vast majority of people, uh, just a, by the way, we live our lives. We spend a lot of our time, even once we're aware of presence and mindfulness, we spend the vast majority of our time caught up in a lot of minutiae that pulls us out of, kind of our present state.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, and there's no one who's free from it, but there are varying degrees of freedom and it's definitely worth cultivating because it can really change your life in some very powerful ways.
Jonathan Levi: Oh, yeah, Andrew Brain, which I think is really interesting. And they're starting to do a lot more research. I have my ticklers that send me whenever there's new research about this, but they're really starting to understand the neurological changes caused by meditation and presence and even stuff like positive affirmations are literally changing the mechanical structure of your brain.
And I think that, uh, for anyone who's taking. Anti-depression medication or attention deficit medication. That's a really exciting prospect. Like I can sit for 20 minutes a day and I can change my neurochemistry for free. That's going to be one of the most exciting things happening in science to me.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. It's actually pretty amazing because you can get free opium and you'd all you have to do is sit for 20 minutes to get it, or even shorter periods of time. And, uh, That's right without the withdrawal. Yeah. In fact, it's totally, without the withdrawal, it has the opposite effect. It's given me more draw, whatever.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and when I say set, I mean, I meditate eyes closed, you know, focus on breathing kind of thing. Do you sit? Every day.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. But I do all kinds of things. So I will sit, you know, one of the most powerful meditations that I ever learned was the corner exercise, which is just to find the corner of something and look at it and then start to be able to look at the space around it and see that air is really a kind of jello that's pushing against everything and, and that wow object is pushing against the jello. And it's just kind of a neat way to blend yourself into presence in the room and think about that air pressing upon you as a kind of like really a jello it's an object air in, in and of itself or an object field with many objects.
So I'll do that. And I also do. It's certain kinds of breathing when I feel like it, or I don't. And I really like something called psychic nostril breathing, which is without using your finger to hold down a nostril. You just imagine that air is coming up your left nostril and out your right nostril and then up your right nostril and out the left nostril.
And you just sort of cycle that. And then you can combine that with something called pendulum breathing. And pendulum breathing is breathing in, then breathing in again and breathing out and breathing out again. And you swing your breath that way. And you combine those two things together. It's a little bit like syncopated drumming, but once you get used to it, this is just an incredible thing in and of itself.
And you don't do it for any kind of end goal. You do it just to do it while you're sitting and just to sit and the most incredible things happen.
Jonathan Levi: Right. I think that's really cool because a lot of beginners myself included, I start with a very common Vipassana practice and you're supposed to sit there and just focus on your breathing, and inevitably your breathing is not very interesting.
So I like that the idea of making it a little bit more interesting. Sometimes my breathing won't captivate my attention, so listen to, or feel my heart rate, but I'll definitely try that out in twice. And then out twice.
Anthony Metivier: What do you think about combining meditation with technology?
Jonathan Levi: You know, I have mixed feelings about it.
On the one hand, you have this very pure, beautiful practice. That's estimated to be about 5,000 years old. Right? So in a lot of ways, it shares that characteristic with the memory palace, right? You don't need a technological innovation to use a memory palace. It's something that we as humans have kind of inherited down from ancestry.
And I think there's beauty in that. On the other hand, I think it's an amazing way. To connect to millions of people. And if you look at an app like Headspace or Calm, these apps are all over the news and they're raising awareness and they're creating what some people call the mindfulness revolution. And I think that's great.
And I personally got into meditation because someone told me to try out Headspace and I tried their 10-day trial. At which point I decided that you know, no matter how lovely Dr. Andy's accent was. I'd probably be better off, you know, with just some noise, isolating headphones, but I will tell you one piece of technology that I've been very excited and very disappointed by is kind of home ECG.
So I have this headband sitting here, that's supposed to measure my brainwaves and tell me, you know, how I'm doing and help me understand the changes in my brain. How are my alpha waves changing? How are my Delta waves changing over time? And I think that's really motivating and really exciting. The technology is definitely not there yet.
And I'm looking forward to a time when it will be there, but I don't know. What do you think of it?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, I'm not that big of a fan either, but there is some benefit to it sometimes. So I really like an app called still point, which plays three different kinds of sounds. And you can mix them. So you have like a baseline, not a bass guitar line, but a baseline sound.
And then you can add. Like some sort of heartbeat or something like that. And then you can add a periodic home or a periodic toodaloo or whatever. You've got different options. And when my mind is really sped up, sometimes I will go to that because it's just really pleasant to listen to, and really does.
Provide a point of focus that I may not be able to give for myself. So that's been interesting.
Jonathan Levi: Is that a little bit like, uh, binaural beats?
Anthony Metivier: Yeah, except for, without the binaural stuff. I mean, I don't know I, to tell you the truth, I didn't memorize the packaging when I got it, but it really struck me as being quite interesting because it wasn't really in that.
Sort of fringe of science and I'm not that studied in what research they've done, but it was just kind of like, this just sounds that you can put together to help you focus and no real claims above that or beyond it. But, uh, you reminded me something when you mentioned 4,000 years of meditation. And a lot of people think that the memory palace technique came from ancient Greece.
But the reality is, is that it did, except for it also came from the ancient East, and a lot of the Buddhist meditations used location-based memorization. So really? Yeah. For example, I learned a meditation one time. And I thought, man, this is a memory palace. And I mean, it's one of those specific meditations where you're not just sitting to sit, but you're actually doing stuff.
And the teacher said, imagine that you're in this temple and at this particular location, there's a bridge. And as you walk across the bridge, you see all these people at the bottom of the bridge and they are throwing stones at you trying to make you fall down. And at the other end of the bridge, you are at a party and everybody is cheering you on and offering you food and wine.
And then yeah. Over at this corner of the temple, imagine this big black dog and that dog is always chasing you. And that is the representation of death. And then it went on and on. And I remember this because I'm going through my mind right now, thinking of all these things. And this is 10 years ago that I learned this meditation.
And so all of these things represent stuff like the people throwing rocks at you or reminding you to remember all of the people you dislike or that you consider as enemies. And forgive them. And the people at the party are also your friends, but you forgive them because they're trying to poison you with all their good stuff or whatever, you know, and the dog is death, literally, always behind you and you practice the meditation of realizing that death is coming.
It's a memory palace basically.
Jonathan Levi: Fascinating and that meditation
Anthony Metivier: is thousands of years old.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. So, Anthony, I don't want to take up too much of your time. I know you're quite a prolific man, and you very much lived up to your a miles Davis nickname from your Ph.D. dissertation. I know you're doing books or doing podcasts. Udemi courses. You also have a master course that apparently I really need to check out if listeners want to learn more about you or maybe start training in the Magnetic Memory Method, where do they start? Finding all this different material.
Anthony Metivier: Well to really do is give listeners to your podcast, some worksheets, and a free video series, which you can find at magneticmemorymethod.com/becominsuperhuman.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. That would be perfect. I know there's so much different stuff that you've put out there and, you know, thousands of pages on whether or not I should be storing Brad Pitt in my bed that I would love to speed read through. So I'm actually going to check that link out myself.
Anthony Metivier: Yeah. You just got to decide above the sheets below the sheets wrap, then can just, again, if it's a female listener or a male listener, Yeah, but anyway, for people who are listening to this and are really interested, there's worksheets there's videos that will make it a lot more concrete and you can see what's going on.
So that's magneticmemorymethod.com/becomingsuperhuman.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. And we're going to put up notes to all the different resources, some of which I'm going to research myself different links. We've talked about books, stuff like that. It'll all be up on our website. Cool. So awesome. Anthony, thanks so much for your time.
It's been a real pleasure as always chatting with you.
Anthony Metivier: Thank you and keep up all the good work and I can't wait for the next time.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Take care. Bye-bye.
Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast.
We'll see you next time.