The Memorization Challenge


One of the real benefits of passage meditation is that we can choose the passages we meditate on. One of the related challenges? Memorization.

This past week we've been talking about memorization tips within the YA Blog Team and are eager to hear tips from all of you! Though we've never talked about it, we were surprised at many of us tried the same strategies and also each picked up some new ideas to try. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

  • Memorize just a line a day – one line is such an easy amount and in no time you'll have a whole passage!
  • Walk while you memorize – something about pacing and reciting the words (silently or out loud) can really internalize the cadence of the words.
  • Schedule in memorization time – block off time in your calendar to memorize, treat it like any appointment and hold it aside. Try for regular "memorization appointments" like the first Sunday of the month.
  • Always have the passage near by – whether on a notecard in your pocket, or in your phone or day planner, have the passage near by so you can review lines when you find yourself with unexpected down time.

We are really eager to hear your ideas! In the comments below, share your strategies for memorization.

We also wanted to share the excerpt below from a past Blue Mountain Journal which featured some great tips on memorization.

Excerpt from the Blue Mountain Journal Summer 2009:

For a visual approach, look for patterns. As an example, take the passage entitled “United in Heart,” from the Rig Veda:

May we be united in heart.
May we be united in speech.
May we be united in mind.
May we perform our duties
As did the wise of old.

May we be united in our prayer.
May we be united in our goal.
May we be united in our resolve.
May we be united in our understanding.
May we be united in our offering.
May we be united in our feelings.
May we be united in our hearts.
May we be united in our thoughts.
May there be perfect unity amongst us.

For the first verse of this passage, all one really has to learn is the main phrase, three other words, and an ending sentence.

If you’d like to make use of kinesthetics, try writing the passage, line by line or stanza by stanza. Start by looking at the first line. Then write it out from memory. Check it. If what you wrote was not accurate, write the corrected version. Once you know the first line, try the same process with the whole first stanza.

For an auditory method, try listening to Easwaran reciting any passage in the collection of MP3s found on the website.

For a method which combines auditory and kinesthetic features, try declaiming the passage, like an actor trying out new lines. It can help to walk or pace around while reciting the lines. Gestures can help. But note: it is best to select some private venue for this method! 

When you are memorizing a line or a stanza, checking helps. This is called “feedback.” We learn by means of feedback.

It also helps to focus on small chunks – one or two lines, for example, rather than a whole stanza.

Returning to the passage later helps us retain it. This is how we can transfer a line or stanza from short-term memory into the long-term.