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5 Tips to Help You Memorize the Writings

October 8, 2012, in Articles > Baha'i Life, by

Ever since I was a kid, it seemed implied in Bahá’í culture that we should memorize the Writings and prayers not only because they became more readily accessible during the teaching of the Faith but also because it had a deep spiritual impact within.

“From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages” Bahá’u’lláh enjoins in one of His Tablets, and Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone used to say that we should memorize prayers because when we die we can’t take our prayer books with us, but we can take our memory!

The importance of memorization has also been stressed in recent times through the Institute Process. Both as participants and as tutors we have seen ourselves and many others struggling when memorizing quotes, complaining how they are not young anymore or how the quotes are too long. But memory is like any other muscle or skill, it may be unused but it’s right there waiting for us to make the most out of it, and the more we use it, the stronger it gets.

What I want to attempt in this post is not to address the importance of memorizing the writings nor an analysis on the spiritual power of memory, but I want to share some practical tips that I have personally found helpful when memorizing quotes and passages.

Tip # 1 – Just Do It

We all know how important motivation is for any task we want to accomplish but it feels to me that this is particularly notorious for mental activities. Memorizing anything when you don’t want to is close to impossible. The first thing we should do is find the inner or outer source of motivation that is inspiring us to memorize and tap into that energy. Memorizing is hard work, we get tired and having the source of your motivation at hand, ready when we feel tired or weak, makes things so much easier.

Tip # 2 – Divide and Conquer

Every now and then I see some people attempting to memorize big quotes entirely. They keep on reading the whole quote until they have committed the entire paragraph or prayer to memory. Even though it’s very admirable, dividing the quote into manageable bite sized bits seems more practical and easier. So basically you start with a phrase within the quote and memorize that, then you memorize the next phrase and you try to say the both phrases, memorize a third phrase and then say all three. Most people do this instinctively. Divide and conquer.

Tip # 3 – Rinse and Repeat

Scientific research seems to suggest that “remember to repeat” is fundamental to memorizing anything. To memorize something you should repeat it over and over again. To memorize something you should repeat it over and over again (pun!). Repetition makes our memory muscles stronger more than anything else. When you have committed something to memory, the challenge becomes keeping it there. What I found useful is making a schedule in which you program repetitions. For example, you memorized a quote one night, you program the repetition maybe twice a day for the next couple of days, once a day for a week after that and then once a week. “Repeat to remember” research suggest for memorizing long term.

Tip # 4 – Walk the Talk

I find it almost impossible to memorize anything while I’m sitting down. Not only walking (in any direction or motion) helps me a lot but also saying things out lout. There is some scientific explanation on why this happens that I’m not going to get into but it seems that it is mostly because we are memorizing through many senses and the same time (kinetic memory versus visual memory versus auditory memory). The more the merrier I say.

Tip # 5 – Bring It On!

Last but not least, I’ve found that whenever I have challenged myself with memorizing a quote, passages, prayers or even books, not only my motivation becomes greater but also my skill and ability to memorize grows. I challenge you to challenge yourself with something you have always wanted to memorize, maybe the Long Obligatory Prayer or the Tablet of Ahmad or even the Hidden Words. When you accomplish these things it feels like a double win, you have accomplished something you set for yourself to do, and you have written the Sacred Writings in your heart.

I hope this helps, and if you have any other techniques or methods you’d like to share, it would be great to hear about them, so please add them to the comments section below.

Posted by

Neysan S

Discussion 9 Comments

Thanks for this wonderful reminder of the importance of
memorizing prayers and Tablets. When I first became
a Baha’i in 1965, I memorized the Perspicuous Tablet..
which ends ” Be patient for thy Lord is patient.”… and
I’ve recited it daily for many many years.

Now I shall try to memorize more.
Thanks so much,
Karin Ferguson
Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada

Karin Ferguson (October 10, 2012 at 3:57 AM)

I was thinking earlier today how I wanted a refresher in motivation & needed some basic guidelines that are simple, effective  & easy to follow. Your suggestions have helped remind me of, not only memorization techniques but motivation tools that apply to other areas of my life, thanks for sharing!

I have a suggestion to add ……MUSIC! ….. :).
It can be a very useful memorization tool for some people

&

     In a Baha’i quote, cited below, we know that music is a ”…ladder for our souls, that they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…” and that we are to use music to “Strike up such a melody and tune as  to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy.”

Lyra Rowe (October 10, 2012 at 8:41 AM)

Thanks Lyra!

That’s a wonderful suggestion. It is so much easier to memorize prayers when you learn them through a beautiful melody. Something funny that happens to me is whenever I hear someone reading a quote that I have learnt through a song, is that while they are reading out loud, in my head I put the melody to their words and it’s so hard to stop!

Neysan S (October 10, 2012 at 7:34 PM)

Don’t forget, folks, all the online sites and forums concerned with helping people memorize. I’ve been at this site for some time: http://mnemotechnics.org/x/ But there are many more to take a look at if you go to this link: https://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_nf=1&tok=bV8fBVOL6NDzK9UpaYV2iw&cp=16&gs_id=lg&xhr=t&q=Help+to+Memorize&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&oq=Help+to+Memorize&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=22adff2dc2288598&biw=960&bih=451

RonPrice (October 10, 2012 at 7:13 PM)

Good post.

I also divide my object into smaller pieces, and it is very useful.

My personal favorite is to think in images as much as I can. Since most people remember what they see, this technique works great.

It is also very important to get enough sleep.

boyfranssen (April 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM)

THE JOY OF MEMORIZING FROM THE WRITINGS

Thanks to everyone on this blog, both for raising the subject of memorizing and for sharing your tips and insights.

As one who is devoted to memorizing from the Writings, I would like to say that I know of no better way of deepening spirituality than by verbatim memorizing. The words themselves are masterfully chosen. Memorizing them is like possessing a perfect work of art and being able to enjoy it no matter where you are. You hold the words in your soul. When you recite, it feels as if they come from deep inside you, enabling you to express beautiful and profound thoughts as if they were your own.

This good of this is captured in a quotation by a Buddhist monk named Achann Chaa. He was an inspired teacher whose work led to the founding of many monasteries.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

My wish is that more people would come to experience the joy of memorizing, and to this end I have just launched the beta version of a website in which verbatim memorizing is looked at from many angles. Several points which contributors on this blog have raised are elaborated upon, for example, the need for ongoing revision and the importance of attitude. The website is http://www.memorizingtext.com and the material includes:

• quotations from Bahá’í and other sources which direct us to memorize from Scripture
• tips on how to succeed
• methods which can be used

Also – because it can be hugely motivational to work together on this – you will find invitations to join free online study groups.

I hope the material is useful – and would be delighted to receive any comments or feedback you may feel inclined to offer…………….

Ann Cloete (September 9, 2013 at 8:41 AM)

with a partner. one person closes the book and listens to the other while they read aloud phrase by phrase each time starting from the beginning and adding a phrase at a time. And each time you repeat until you have both memorized

jaleh (March 3, 2014 at 10:50 AM)

Thanks,The words themselves are masterfully chosen. Memorizing them is like possessing a perfect work of art and being able to enjoy it no matter where you are. You hold the words in your soul. When you recite, it feels as if they come from deep inside you, enabling you to express beautiful and profound thoughts as if they were your own. – See more at:education

tony tomy (November 11, 2014 at 4:18 AM)

Maybe smb knows a method named “snowball”. We use it very often.

– Let…
– Let your…
– Let your heart…
– Let your heart burn…
etc.

You may repeat several words:
– Let your…
– Let your heart burn…
– Let your heart burn with loving kindness…

Darya (April 4, 2015 at 11:28 AM)

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