Most students go about their day asleep, their mind a constant humdrum of intrusive thoughts that go blah blah blah blah blah, da da da da da.
Did I study enough for that exam, when's my next homework assignment, oh crap my essay's due tonight!
Anthony Metivier, the author of The Victorious Mind, felt the same way until he learned to calm the storm inside his head. Using a combination of the meditation, breathing, journaling, and memory techniques he discusses in the book, he transitioned from a chronically depressed Ph.D. student to someone with a boundless radiant joy for life.
In this article, I will teach you how to make the same transformation Anthony did by giving a book summary of The Victorious Mind (I will go chapter by chapter but skip over the ones I find less insightful).
By the end of this article, you will have all the tools you need to cultivate your victorious mind and memorize anything quickly. We will learn in order: How meditation, breathing, journaling, and memory techniques change your brain How to meditate How to breathe (that's right, most people aren't doing so correctly!) How to eat, exercise, and sleep to cultivate a victorious mind How to memorize numbers, speeches, concepts, names, languages, books, and more with The memory palace technique The Major Method The celebrity list
Let's get into it!
Part I In the Eye of the Storm
1 Beyond the Buddha Smile to Bliss
Why does the combination of these four things work?
It's because using these techniques changes the structure of the brain. It moves your usual way of being in the brain from the default mode network--the part of the brain responsible for thoughts about the past and future--to the task-positive network--the part responsible for thinking about the present. We open ourselves to experiencing a perpetual present, free from intrusive thoughts.
We allow ourselves to feel what Anthony Metivier calls the Buddha smile, a radiant blissful energy in the forehead behind which the task-positive network resides in the brain.
But it doesn't just benefit us.
When we memorize information that enhances ourselves, we improve our ability to enhance everyone else at college or even the entire population. We become magnetic, attracting information that matters and repelling information that doesn't. We become guiding lights for other people to cultivate their own victorious minds.
You might be thinking, that sounds more Woo Woo than Donkey Kong going down a slipping slide with Mario.
I promise you it's not.
I was skeptical at first too, but after applying the methods he talks about in the book, I have noticed the storm raging in my head temper as well. I used to be doing way too many things alongside school. Here's a short list of everything I'm doing this semester:
- Taking 4 classes and TAing for one
- Interviewing to become a Research Assistant
- Maintaining a weekly newsletter and YouTube channel, biweekly blog, and two podcasts
- Creating a digital course with fellow YouTuber John Mavrick helping University students build a knowledgebase that scales across semesters
- Participating in the Cornell Speech Club, the SKITS Comedy Club, the Board Game Club, and the Outing Club.
- Maintaining a healthy social network seeing friends every day and continuing to call my parents and brother
- Growing my relationship with my girlfriend
- Developing a stand up comedy bit with my brother
- Continuing to explore curiosities in random books for fun
I could ride the wave of inspiration by doing all these things at the beginning of the semester. But once the inspiration wave started to temper, I began feeling low thrumming anxiety throughout my day. I was doing too much.
I hampered down on the amount I was doing.
Then I came across The Victorious Mind. And by applying the concepts in the book, I achieved a clarity of mind I have never had. I'm cultivating a victorious mind.
And you can to.
Let's talk about how.
Part II Become the Storm
Part II of the book is about how to temper the mind to open you up for the memory techniques introduced later.
6 How Rules Help Eliminate the Tyranny of Free Will
This chapter is all about freeing yourself from the need to feel in control. (Technically this chapter appears in part III of the book, but I thought it is better placed here)
If we want to understand how meditation, breathing, journaling, personalized health, and memory techniques can help us temper the storm in our mind, we must first understand what creates the storm in the first place.
A massive creator of useless negative feelings and thoughts is the need to feel in control of our lives.
Needing to control our grades on an assignment, our friends at college, or the campus vending machines.
I could have a master key to unlock all the machines and dispense snacks to your heart's desire. Then I could create a vending machine empire, strategically placing machines in all the prime locations on campus and becoming the go-to source for late-night munchies.
Sorry got a little off track. Ahem.
Anthony argues this need for control comes from the belief that we have free will. Anthony argues that free will is an illusion because everything we think we "have control over" is simply neurochemicals interacting in the brain to make us act. Accepting our lack of free will isn't dreary but rather freeing.
One of my personal philosophies, The Ancient Greek Stoics, can show why.
The core fundamental tenet of Stoicism is that you should live your life through The dichotomy of control. There are only two things fully in our control:
- Our reactions to our thoughts
- Our actions
Everything else is outside of it.
This realization allows you to avoid the incredible psychological anguish that comes from resisting the present, resisting what you can't control. Instead you can just be. This doesn't mean you don't try to change things. You can attempt to improve the world while appreciating it for what it is, and not putting your well-being on the outcome.
To reach this beautiful state of non-control Anthony recommends the reader ingrains one of his favorite quotes from Tony Buzan: "The rules will set you free."
By rules, he means the values you live by, the habit stacks you create for yourself, and the routines you follow.
Instilling your own rules like these and following them isn't constraining but rather freeing. It allows you to fully immerse yourself in the present moment, knowing you are acting as you know you should be. When you desperately try to be in control of things without rules, you submit yourself to the storm of intrusive thoughts and suffer as a result.
But when you surrender to the logic of putting structure around events and sticking with it, many great things happen as a result.
For example, most of my days are relatively the same.
I wake up, exercise, write for 90 minutes, go to class, eat lunch, read, write, and take long walks, potentially socialize, get dinner, and read, journal, read some more and go to bed. Of course I deviate from this routine often, but the rules surrounding it aren't constraining but freeing.
They allow me to focus on the present moment knowing the activities I'm doing helps me work towards my purpose day in and day out.
Now that we know how the need to be in control causes the storm in our mind, we can discuss how we can begin to temper it.
2 Mindfulness, Meditation, and Memory Improvement
This chapter asks the question, why are meditation and memory so interlinked?
It's because the quality at which we remember something is primarily bent on how aware we are at the time of encoding. Meditation at its core is about becoming more aware of the present. So practicing meditation cultivates better memory by making us more aware of the present.
Ultimately the thesis of the book is quite simple.
Achieving a victorious mind comes with practicing meditation, breathing, journaling, getting good food, sleep, exercising, and starting a memorization practice.
But just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy.
Nowadays, awareness is at its lowest point ever, especially for my generation. Our digital devices, social media, and the news constantly distract us. So it's no wonder my generation is the most anxious and depressed out of any previous one ever.
That's where meditation comes in.
Starting a meditation practice is really simple.
For a defined period per day you make the intention to focus your attention on something. That's it. I like to meditate for ten minutes before I exercise in the morning. For those getting started, I recommend using Headspaces introduction to meditation program. However, the ultimate goal is to meditate on your own.
Here are some of my favorite meditations. Please, stop reading and try each one out for a couple of minutes. I'm serious, get a timer. Applying what is in the book is the only way to achieve a victorious mind.
- Do nothing meditation. It's exactly what it sounds like. For a set period, you make the intention to do nothing. When intrusive thoughts come up brush them away and return to your state of doing nothing.
- Body relaxation meditation. In this meditation, you flex your muscles with the breadth from bottom to top. Starting with the feet, you flex them as you breathe in and relax them as you breathe out. Then you work your way up to the face going through the calves, hamstrings and quads, the glutes, the abdominals, back and chest, the shoulders and arms, the hands, and finally the face and neck.
- Expanding consciousness meditation. In this meditation you slowly expand your consciousness from yourself to the universe. Start with your consciousness focused on a point on your forehead. Every fourth breadth expands your consciousness one rung out. From your forehead to your whole body, body to the room, room to the city or town you are in, then to the world, and finally to the universe.
These simple meditations can help you get started.
The important thing to remember is that Meditation isn't isolated to the meditation practice..
The purpose of the practice is for you to bring your awareness during the meditation into all of your day's activities; to cultivate a present awareness during all of your day's activities.
The next chapter helps solidify your meditation practice by adding breadth exercises to the mix.
3 Breathing, Walking, Remembering: an Instant-on Magic Carpet Ride for Your Mind
"Control the breadth and you control the mind." - Gary Webber
We usually breathe totally unconsciously.
But focusing on the breadth is a powerful way of grounding yourself in the present and a great addition to your meditation practice.
Here are some of my favorite breathing exercises for during meditation and throughout the day. Once again, I encourage you to practice each of these breathing techniques while reading. Application is king:
- Pendulum breathing. Breath in until when you would normally exhale, but then take a sharp tiny inhale afterward. Then exhale until when you would normally inhale, but then take a little more of an exhale. Repeat.
- Patterned breathing. Inhale for a count of 5, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Why these numbers? No real reason. You can change them up anytime you want and should. Humans love variety and challenge, so try to keep yourself in the Goldilocks zone.
- Psychic alternate nostril breathing. Inhale through just the right of your nose, exhale from just your left, and then inhale from just your left, repeating the process but vice versa. You don't have to just breathe through one side of your nose. It might not be possible. The simple act of imagining your will ground you in the present. Attentive readers might realize you can combine some of the breathing techniques mentioned with pendulum breathing to add more challenge to the exercise.
I encourage you to practice these breathing exercises throughout your day to ground yourself in the present moment as a form of meditation.
4 You Think What You Eat
Even practicing meditation won't fix a bad diet, exercise regime, or sleep schedule.
Anthony explains that no matter how much you calm the storm inside your head, imbalance in any three of these things will cause the intrusive thoughts we are trying to get rid of to return.
This book summary isn't meant to be a treatise on how to eat healthier, exercise, and sleep better. There are plenty of resources out there on that. But I do have one major tip from the book, which I found very insightful.
Remember that your health is an N = 1.
There is no one else with the same body, genetics, and experiences as you.
The food, exercise regime, and sleep schedule that works for someone else might not work for you. Therefore the best way to cultivate these three things isn't to blindly copy and paste someone else's regime exactly but to experiment. That's right, you get to be your very own Albert Einstein!
Start a food, exercise, and sleep journal.
Write about how you feel after eating a meal, doing certain forms of exercise, and sleeping at certain times. Over time you will begin to understand how specific things effect you. Than you can create your own N = 1 lifestyle.
You need this triad health foundation to cultivate a victorious mind.
7 Meditative Journaling: Navigate Your Way to Calmer Seas
For a long time, I thought of journaling as simply showing gratefulness.
This was in large part due to the degree of mindless self-help content online that all said the same thing: write what you are grateful for in the morning.
But Anthony shows it's so much more than that.
Here are a couple of the main things I have learned about journaling.
Firstly, it's a meditative practice. Journaling helps you navigate your way to calmer seas by allowing you to think through and process events. Admittingly the gratitude journaling mentioned by so many self-help gurus is encompassed in this and can be a profoundly happiness-boosting activity. In fact, people who journal feel time slow down. When you process events and ask how they affected you, you see and use your time differently.
Time stops flowing by but rather through you.
Secondly, journaling allows you to do what I call Lifestyle Design.
Lifestyle design is the art of crafting the best possible life for you. It requires you to learn about yourself and use this information to create the best consistent average day. Journaling is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself because you can process how events affected you over the long term. You can come at your life like a scientist, asking what events, people, and activities make you feel a certain way and shifting course with that in mind.
If you would like to check out how to lifestyle design using journaling check out my video Creating My Best Average Day With Obsidian Periodic Notes.
Part III Calm the Storm
This part focuses on how you can enhance your memory with memory techniques.
The reason Anthony started the book talking about meditation, breathing, personalizing health, and journaling, BEFORE getting into the memory techniques is because you need to have a calm mind before trying to memorize information.
Why are memory techniques the ultimate last step?
Because, at the end of the day, cultivating a victorious mind involves learning to live more mindfully in the present. And as we will see combining memory techniques with meditation, breathing, and journaling is the true key to staying in the present. This is because the memory techniques take tremendous focus and present awareness to use to their full potential. And the best part? They're really really fun to use.
But staying present more often isn't the only benefit.
Fostering a greater memory can help you:
- Study more effectively in less time
- Learn more effectively by establishing a knowledge foundation of a topic
- Increase creativity
- Slow time down
- Memorize vocabulary for a language
- Memorize sentences
- Memorize speech topics for giving a speech
- Memorize concepts and entire books
Side tangent, this is why I'm still astounded how there aren't required classes in high school or college about cultivating a victorious mind OR the memory techniques we will explore in this part. Instead, students are expected to memorize, understand, and apply vast amounts of information without a calm mind or these ancient memorization techniques.
Let's change that.
The main memory technique Anthony discusses is the creation of a memory palace which I have written an ultimate guide right here. So if you want to learn about what the second half of the book includes as it pertains to memory, check out this article.
Part IIII No More Storms?
16 The Victorious Mind
Implement the ideas talked about in this article, meditation, breathing, personalizing health, journaling, and using the memory techniques, and you will achieve a profound transformation.
You will cultivate a victorious mind.
You will start to feel a reduction in useless thoughts. The calming of the storm. You will still have planning thoughts, like when you are creating encodings for knowledge, but endless anxious ruminations will no longer bash you.
That's not all.
You will become more present.
"[The] awareness is ultimately where memory techniques and meditation meet. When you fine-tune your mind enough to be present and memorize a person's name in real time, you're not just aware of your memory. You have become the act of memory itself." - Anthony Metivier
You have achieved a victorious mind.
People will notice.
They'll see you can draw an unusually large body of knowledge. They will admire the fluidity and interestingness of your ideas. They'll feel the radiant joy that emanates from everything you touch.
They will become interested in how you do it.
You'll share everything you learned in this article.
Then they will themselves cultivate a victorious mind starting the process all over again.
Here's what I would like to share this week.
If you enjoyed this article you should consider checking out my free email course 3 Days To Creating Your First Memory Palace As A Student. In it you will learn:
- The 5-step guide to creating a memory palace
- How to create a memory palace network and personal association list
- My best tips and beginner mistakes for creating memory palaces
📸News From The Channel!
📺Latest On De YouTube - 3 Lessons From Stumbling Upon Happiness Which Have Made Me A Happier College Student: In this video, I discuss 3 lessons I took from Stumbling upon happiness that have made me a happier college student.
🎙️Latest On De Podcast - EP17 Anthony Metivier: How To Use Meditation And Memory Techniques To Live Joyously: Anthony Metivlier is the creator of the Magnetic Memory Method, a collection of courses that teaches students how to memorize words, numbers, names, poetry, and more, as well as the author behind a dozen bestselling books on the topic of memory and language learning. In this episode, you will learn:
- How memory techniques and meditation can help you live more in the present
- How to take notes in a way that aids memory
- The underlying nature of reality
💡My Best Insights:
📖Book - The Power of Now: I first read this book two years ago as my entrance back into reading since I was a kid. While there are many things I disagree with, the main thesis of the book remains powerful: ground yourself in the present moment, and most of your "problems" will go away. It's similar to the transformation cultivating a victorious mind can give you, an eternal blissful present.
✍️Blog Post - Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid: An illuminating post where psychologist Haidt describes the three things required for a healthy Democratic American and why social media and generative AI are making them fall apart.
🎙️Podcast - Dr. Lex Fridman Navigating Conflict, Finding Purpose & Maintaining Drive: The best idea I got from this podcast is the idea that you shouldn't always strive to have "work life balance." First, your work is fundamentally connected to your life, so it doesn't make sense to try and separate them. Secondly, you can and should have periods where you are doing insane amounts of stuff and periods where you aren't doing much. Lots of people that promote work-life balance are those that have succeeded and have forgotten the difficult work through which it took to get there.
📺YouTube Video - The Cult of Dan Lok - Brainwashed Student Lost $26,000 Testimonial: This video showcases the dark side of the creator economy. Dan Lok is a content creator who through using a pyramid scheme and psychological manipulation, was able to make millions off his subscriber base's bad decisions. As a creator, people like Dan disgust me. However, I ascribe to the philosophy that creators can be some of the most honest business dealers in the world. The model I follow is giving away 95% of your content for free, building trust with your audience, and then selling the implementation with a full refund guarantee. That's the honorable way.
- A personal essay targeted towards college students in the realm of gamification, relationship psychology, or Obsidian Personal Knowledge Management
- A curated list of everything that has come out on my content channels
- A curated list of my coolest learnings over the past week
In addition, consider checking out my digital notetaking course Obsidian University to help students like you build a notetaking system that compounds your school learning across semesters.