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Human Memory - its types, how to improve Memory? (holistically)

Updated: Jan 24


Human memory is the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.

Human memory can be classified into 4 types:

1. Sensory memory

2. Short-term memory

3. Working memory

4. Long-term memory

Some researchers believe that these are actually the distinct stages of the same memory. It all starts with your view & perception, how you see the things or with what inhibitions, beliefs or mindset you see things. Your eyes are like a camera it clicks many images, but only the images or event that you magnify or give more importance to along with all your inhibitions, prejudices, or beliefs enters your long-term memory or the unconscious mind. If you are more prejudiced or biased, it'll reduce the pixels of your camera, the image further gets blurred.

In this view, memory creations begins with sensory memory, then the creation of short-term memory, and then the long-term memories are created.

1. Sensory memory- Memory that's related to sensations. Sensory memory holds sensory information for very brief periods of time, usually 1 second or less. The processing of memories and other information begins in this type of memory.

If a person pays attention to sensory input, then the information may permeate into short-term and then long-term memory.

Some examples of sensory memory include:

1. Registering the sounds a person encounters on a walk.

2. Briefly acknowledging something in a person’s field of vision.

3. When you suddenly experience any physical pains or emotional traumatic experiences- which essentially includes physical sensations.

Sensory memory helps a person piece together some sense of the world based on latest sights, sounds, and other sensory experiences.

When a specific sensory experience becomes relevant, such as the smell of something in the kitchen, it may move to other types of memory.

Otherwise, sensory memories are very short-term memories, a person quickly forgets them.

For example, a person will not be able recall all the specific sounds they heard in the last 30 seconds, 30 minutes, or 30 days unless there is some specific important reason to remember them.

2. Short-term memory:

Short-term memory allows a person to recall limited strings of information for a short period.

These memories disappear quickly, approximately after 30 seconds.

Short-term memory is not just the memory that doesn't last long. Instead, it is a type of short-lived storage that can hold only a few pieces of information.

Some examples of short-term memory include:

Remembering a string of 5–7 words and repeating it back

Remembering a phone number while getting a pen to jot it down.

3. Working memory - this is similar to short-term memory. However, unlike the latter, working memory is where a person manipulates data into useful information.

This helps them to remember details of their current task. Some behaviors that use working memory include:

A. Solving a complex math problem where a person must remember several numbers.

B. Baking something, which requires a person to recall the ingredients, they already have had added.

C. Participating in a debate, during which a person must remember the main arguments and the evidence each side uses against each other.

While researchers typically, separate working and short-term memory into two different categories; research often finds a significant overlap between the two.

4. Long-term memory-

Long-term memory stores a wide varied range of memories and experiences of life.

Most memories that people recall, especially those older than about 30 seconds, are a part of long-term memory.

Many researchers divide long-term memory into two subcategories: implicit and explicit.

Implicit Long-Term Memory:

Implicit memories are memories that influence a person’s behavior. However, people do not consciously think about them.

Explicit long-term memory

Explicit memories are conscious memories of events, experiences, autobiographical facts, or things a person learns.

Some other types of explicit long-term memory include the following:

Episodic memory

These are memories of events or experiences or autobiographical facts. Examples of episodic memory include remembering an election, events from childhood, and personal facts, such as if someone is married.

Semantic memory

Semantic memories refer to general knowledge about the world. A person may remember a fact or event that they did not experience because they learned or studied it.

For instance, knowing what the human heart looks like is an example of semantic memory. However, it would be an episodic memory if the person can remember dissecting a pig heart in medical school.

In Zen, clearing the mind or short-term memory is called 'EMPTYING THE CUP.' A cup or your memory will be able to hold tea or receive information(data) only when it's wholly empty, or else it can't hold all of the information. EMPTYING THE CUP also means, clearing your old obsolete, unwanted biases, prejudices, inhibitions in our mind, to become more objective or closer to the objectivity of how things are or how they operate in the universe.

"Higher the objectivity, more peaceful you will be."

It's the ability to listen, view, perceive, accept, or understand things or persons, objectively, influences your peace and memory. Objectivity can be further developed by developing Critical Thinking skills. Soon we will be posting on this.

We can ramp up the process of EMPTYING THE CUP by consistently practicing MEDITATION. Meditation not only clears or nullifies the thoughts, but also conjures, all the types of MEMORIES (previously explained). Meditation clears the junk of your working and conscious memory; it enables you to access the unconscious (partially or fully) through the hallway of sub-conscious.

After consistent years of Sadhana, it also enables you to access the super conscious mind. Meditation improves grey matter in brains which is attributed to objectivity, creativity & improved memory. These are the recent medical research findings, where they scanned the brains of people who don't meditate and the people who meditate regularly and people who meditate occasionally. People who meditate regularly were found to have more grey matter - they were calm, condensed, more intelligent- both cognitively and emotionally, they had more immunity and were better decision makers.


Super-conscious is basically a proposition where a person or soul or Atman knows everything. Atman can access Akashic Records. Akashic record is the huge database that contains each and every information about every soul and universe. Hypnotherapists can make a person access Akashic record, by sending him into the deep state of trance.

5 types of minds - as per Vedas:

1. Mana: - this is referred to as the unconscious mind, which doesn't have any rationale, all it does is- sends signals about wants, about likes & dislikes, perceptions about persons, things which we sense through our 5 senses, through the hallway of subconscious to conscious mind. This is also referred to as the animal intelligence or low-level intelligence.

2. Buddhi: or rational mind - this we call as the conscious mind, which has the ability to think, reason, analyze & come to conclusions, rationally. Psychologists refer to this as cognitive intelligence.

3. Chittha: - This basically represent all types of memory - explained before. Chittha: is the center of all the memory, within the unconscious mind or Mana:.

4. Aham - Referred to as Superficial Ego.

Superficial ego makes us realize that we exist , we experience vivid experiences, emotions, thoughts and desires. This is the reason for our existence. We live on this planet by representing ourselves, as some think they are this physical body or consider themselves as the physical body. This is Superficial Ego, caused due to bodily affiliations. Bodily affiliations exist because of superficial ego.

5. Chetana - the soul or Atman. Soul is superior to all of the previously explained minds. Rationale or conscious mind is superior to unconscious and subconscious mind. But the soul or Atman is superior to rational mind. Soul can be called the Super Conscious mind or the source of infinite intelligence.

Spiritual Ego is an inherent ego, where we understand and see ourselves as a soul or Atman. We realize that we are not this body; we are beyond this very physical existence. The above knowledge leads us to understand ourselves as a soul - about our past births, our root incarnation and so on.

How mind the remembers? or creates the memory database.

Imagine you have a video recorder that records everything you see, and you can retrieve it, whenever you want. There's no limit to the data base with which your videos are stored. This is your memory (all types). Your mind stores or creates the memories in this way. You are actually capable of remembering everything, but bugs like your bias, ignorance, lethargy or prejudices (as previously mentioned) hamper your ability to retrieve the data. Also, you remember very clearly to what you highest importance to or what you record with more pixels with 100x zoom.

What you give more importance becomes your non-erasable memory. Sometimes when sudden unexpected pleasurable or painful experiences are created, will be remembered for long time. That's why most love pleasant surprises, it lasts long, so that they can reminisce it, whenever they want.

Mind also remembers through neuro-associations. With everything around, you or everyone around, you have subconsciously perceptions, judgements or beliefs about everything. Either you perceive or eventually believe that people are good, bad, favorable or anything. Similarly with things, scents or experiences, you have pain or pleasure. This is the science behind the one-word exercise done by psychologists to their clients.

Mind also recalls or creates memories in the form of mental, emotional, and physiological states.

A state can be defined as the sum of millions of neurological processes happening within us—the sum total of our experience at any moment in time. Most of our states happen without any conscious direction on our pan. We see something, and we respond to it by going into a state. It may be a resourceful and useful state, or an unresourceful and limiting state, but there's not much that most of us do to control it. - Tony Robbins, Awaken the giant within you.

Mind clearly remembers those persons who are special persons or things, topics, in detail - because they have created special emotional & physiological states. You can retrieve the data or information anytime. Also, your mind clearly remembers those things or persons which/who have given you immense pain or immense pleasure.

Actually, neural pathways are created with everything and everyone. With these special persons or things, a neural highway is created - which fire and wire certain neuron circuits of the brain. Your mind through brain, neural pathways along with the states remembers them every now and then, it's a like a computer algorithm, running in certain patterns and the same neural pathways or highways gets activated repeatedly, you develop a habit. That's why it's very difficult to get out of traumatic experiences - which results in a syndromes like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), although it can't be termed as a disorder or disease, it's a syndrome - a group of symptoms which consistently occur together, or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.

However still you find sometimes difficult to retrieve or remember a person's name, why? Because you are in a state that's not conducive to retrieve the name. Ex- You are speaking to your friend while traveling, about EU and economic crisis, as result of economic sanctions. Suddenly you don't remember the name of EU commissioner. Why? Because you are traveling, and the state of mind & physiology is different. However, if you are watching news on CNN or DW, you can immediately remember her name - Ursula Vand Der Lain. You should not judge immediately if you can't remember something, understand recalling memory or anything you want to do depends on state of emotions and physiology and much more.

Another way is to repeat the thing in your mind that you want to remember, or you want to learn.

Repetition is the mother of skill. - Tony Robbins

As per the recent research done by learning- scientists, it's found that the more you learn something, by repeated making mistakes, you remember the lesson or concept for longer periods. This is very well applied in Duolingo app, where you can learn various foreign languages. They make you do mistakes, then they give you feedback. Thereby, the app makes you remember for longer periods, my deliberately allowing you to make mistakes.

Mistakes are an important part of the learning process. The more you make mistakes, there's more opportunity to learn. Only caveat is, you must learn; shouldn't get disheartened.

Exercises to improve photographic memory.

By this time, you should have got a fair idea on what's memory or what habits can improve memory. But still here we are going to share an exercises or tips to remember or memorize through images.

1. Whenever ever you read anything, try to remember the trivial aspects of it - ex.- if you are studying some pages of the book, try to remember on what page no this topic is explained or try to click the images in the camera linked to your brain i.e your eyes.

2. Take a look at the draw of your table, observe everything or identity the things that are present inside - now visualize what and all are there inside, based on some order - front row to the back row. Actually, while making a groceries list, after practicing exercise, you should be able to list down without physically checking things. You should be able to remember - is my shampoo almost empty or toothpaste is about to get over or even recall your bank balance now - at least approximate amount.

To conclude each person is a genius in some or the other or in some way, you need to find it and conjure it up to become successful. Don't believe in this unrealistic judgement that you have some concentration problem or memory issues! If you really want it, you get all the memory & concentration to do things that you really want to do. Follow the messages given in this article!

Hope this inspires you and helps you to improve memory!

Thank you so much!


On behalf of Get Inspired Spiritually.

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