April 20


How to Retain New Information Longer Than an Hour

By Celeste DeCamps

April 20, 2020

bodymemory, memory tips, mind body connection, mindfulness, Sian Beilock

There are days when I can't remember my name but my dance moves are with me forever

We all have a unique approach to how we learn and memorize information. Some people can read something once, and it's embedded in their minds forever. Others, like me, would have to read and reread the information for it to take root. What if there was a way to learn and retain essential details without worrying that we will forget them in an hour?  Understanding the mind-body connection plays a big part in our continuing education.

In her book, "How the Body Knows Its Mind" by Sian Beilock is a fascinating story. Art Glenberg is a faculty member at Arizona State University. He runs a laboratory for Embodied Cognition. He did an experiment that shows the importance of children actively involved in their education. He took two groups of first and second graders. One group was going to be acting out a story while the other group would take turns reading the story out loud, twice. The action group was able to comprehend the tale fifty percent more than the reading group. Even days later, the action group was able to recall more details. The idea that we insist on children staying seated and not be allowed to move around really should be changed. Their ability to learn would be more significant and probably more enjoyable. 

Sian Beilock goes on to explain the reason why so many musicians are so well versed in math. She wrote, "Because there is a strong link between fingers and numbers, developing better finger dexterity through musical experience can improve math skills."

Understanding the importance our bodies have on our ability to learn is key to developing better skills. It makes learning more fun but also more productive. 

Even as adults, we can learn by putting our bodies into motion. When we are putting together a presentation or a sales pitch, it helps to be up and moving. Practicing our speech will flow much better when we are standing tall and projecting confidence. When we are explaining the features and benefits of our product or service, we engage the audience with our body language. The information we want to convey is in our minds as well as our bodies. 

I know when I'm telling a story, I tend to act it out on stage. Not only does this keep the audience engaged, but it helps me with transitioning to the next idea. For example, when I'm talking about moving to another city, I physically walk across the stage. In my mind's eye, I "see" myself in the new place, and I can convey that to my audience. It helps me remember the point of the message and keeps me on track. 

When I find myself stuck on a project and can't seem to find a solution, getting up and taking a walk always helps. New energy finds its way into my body and my mind. I also find taking slow, deep breaths, has a way of clearing the cobwebs. 

The next time you want to hold onto new information, try putting your whole body into it even if it means acting it out in a silly fashion. When you connect your mind with your body, you'll find your memory works better, and your attention to the present moment becomes more natural as well. You may be surprised at how easy it is to recall all the necessary details, and suddenly trivia night is a breeze. 

For more information, please check out Sian Beilock, How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel  Atria Books. 

About the author

Celeste DeCamps has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Miami. She worked in radio and television, was a professional belly dancer, drummer, percussionist, nightclub owner, and a sales rep for Southern Wine and Spirits for 12 years. Throughout her different career moves, speaking to and teaching women how to be more confident is Celeste's most fulfilling job.

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  1. Great article. Remembering anything is easier when combined with actions, even if that action is only in your mind. I’m terrible at remembering things and have to use every device possible to peg something in my memory. Action “pegs” seem to work best! I can just see myself acting out an entire play while trying to remember a particular item, event, or name!!

    1. Thank you, Paul. I’m glad you liked the article. I agree, utilizing action “pegs” is a great idea.

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