Meditation and Memory Palaces
What is Meditation
Meditation is a tool to train your brain. It actually has proven to really train the brain as an organ, not 'only' the mind. This means that you can train your brain like a muscle, using it more often in a specific manner resulting in increased mass in certain areas. See here and the Harvard page for reference.
'Esoterics' vs 'Endoterics'
The Esoteric part of meditation (or anything else) is the part you can not observe from outside. So, the esoteric part is what happens inside someone (using imaginary images for example) versus the endoteric part which is observable from the outside. An example could be someone who imagines stomping a bug with his foot and acts out the appropriate movement. The outsider would see a kick to the floor, not knowing which esoteric image was used. Different images normally result in different qualities of movement.
As meditation results in very few movement vs a lot of esoteric work, the esoteric part is often misunderstood as something 'spiritualistic' or new-age-hippie-culture-like.
The esoterics are just images used to obtain a goal - like in the above example, to have a high-quality heavy stomp, you can use the image of a bug without having any real relation to a bug. Its just because the bug-image has proven to work fine for this task. (Because everybody knows it and can use it).
Creating a Memory Palace
Now that you feel like a hippie, lets put this to use. So a lot of the above seems very fluffy at first glance but meditation as was mentioned can be used as a tool. It can allow you to get access to your brain and body and help you gain control of yourself. One of the easiest methods to achieve an affect an outsider can observe is through the use of a memory palace. It is a meditation technique that allows you to store copious amounts of information neatly inside your head and recall it with ease. No more cramming for tests, simply read your notes once, stick them in your palace and you'll be good to go (it's how I get through university with no effort).
So you want to give it a try? Good. Now the first part is the hardest and it helps if you're already comfortable with meditation and closing out the world around you so you can focus. To begin you need a structure, one that you are so intimately familiar with you can recall it with ease. This can be one of two things, either A) a place you're used to be it your home, lab or otherwise, or B) and this is the preferred but more advanced option, a building of your creation. If you're going with B then take some time, draw it out if that helps but you need to know the place inside and out. The nice part though is there are no physical laws or limits in your mind so you can make it out of anything and in any dimensions you like. You can have rooms that should overlap but don't. It doesn't matter so long as you know it well. You can also make new rooms and corridors and levels even as you go.
So lets start with a basic example. Say you're using your bedroom as your room of choice. In your bedroom there are 5 things. A poster on the wall, your bed, your desk, a pair of shoes and a baseball bat. The things themselves are arbitrary. The point is you now have 5 slots which can be filled with a memory trigger.
So now we put that to use and try and remember this list of 5 things: eyeball square turkey fairy probiotic
To remember the list we use the 5 items in your room, each item on the list gets associated with an item in your room. Change the item in your room in your mind to visually give you a clue what you're trying to remember. SO the poster is now of an eyeball with nerve hanging out the back. Your bed is now a perfect square, the shoes look like turkeys and so on.
This works with as many items and rooms as you like. I keep my rooms separated by category and use a series of rooms nested in one another for nested lists like phylogenic trees. Each door in that case is the clue to what you're trying to remember. You don't need the word itself on the item, just a small trigger to give you a clue to what you're trying to remember. The same trick can be done by using your route walking to work if you prefer. Each thing you pass is the next item on the list. Then you get order AND the items.
Keep practicing and eventually you can do it without meditation and do it on the fly. It's how magicians can memorize a whole deck of cards after looking at it once through.
Enjoy your new skill!