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Better Memory With Just 10 Minutes Of Meditation

While most children wanted superpowers like flying, invisibility, or the ability to breathe underwater, I wanted photographic memory just like my TV child genius Doogie Howser MD.

At school, I hated the hours of sitting and trying to memorize diagrams of human anatomy, the periodic table, and the reign of Charles I. If only I could simply take a mental screenshot (before screenshots existed) and remember everything in an instant.

So if you want to be more Doogie, this article will look at whether meditation for memory improvement actually works, and which type of meditation works best.

Doogie Howser, M.D.
Doogie Howser, M.D. had a photographic memory

Just between 10 – 20 minutes of daily meditation is shown to improve memory capacity. Regular meditation creates physical changes in the brain, including improved neural connections, better blood flow, and increased density in the areas that process memories and focus.

The benefits of a better memory

The benefits of improved memory may seem obvious, but there are a few ways that better memory capacity can help us.

  • Social Advantage: People like it when you remember their names. They really like when you remember their interests. A good memory can help socially and professionally as remembering details about people are a sign of interest and care.

  • Improved problem-solving and creativity: The brain does a great job of creating connections between two or more ideas to create new ideas. The more ideas we can remember, the more of these connections we can make.

  • Be funny: It’s not just about remembering jokes and parrot repeating them, a better memory gives you a better repertoire of funny moments that you can build into conversations.

  • More potential for promotion: Remembering figures, key stakeholders’ names, and what was agreed upon in meetings makes you a more effective member of the organization. Being able to recall key information, instead of trawling through hundreds of emails will certainly give you a competitive advantage.

The three types of memory

Short-Term Memory (STM)

Short-term memory is where we keep small amounts of information for a short period of time. An example is when your measuring a surface and have to keep the measurement in your mind until you write it down.

Working Memory

Working memory is a build-on short-term memory, but where you have to use the short-term memory for a cognitive task. An example of working memory is when you need to remember someone’s address while listening to the instructions on how to get there.

Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory is usually larger but not as detailed memories that we can recall from moments of our lives. These can be an hour or decades ago. An example could be a childhood memory.

Meditation for memory improvement: Photos scattered on a table.
Meditation for memory improvement: Photos scattered on a table.

How memory works

To understand how meditation improves memory, we need to know how memory works. There are three key stages in forming and using memories: encoding, storage, and retrieval.


The first stage is absorbing the information, using all of our senses, but this is also affected by perceptions and preconceptions. Our opinions affect how we remember things.


Once we have absorbed the information and associated them with our perceptions, this is then committed to the memory areas of our brain.


Probably the stage we struggle with the most. Once those memories have been stored we need to be able to access them and use them when we need them.

Memories while we meditate

It’s a common misconception that you need to have an empty mind during meditation. But as we meditate, thoughts and memories will subconsciously begin to surface. 

In our usual daily life, we a distracted with entertainment, others, work, and surface-level thoughts. But when we meditate, we give our mind the space to start noticing deeper and more subtle thoughts and memories.

Part of the meditation process is to notice these thoughts and notice how our mind has subconsciously drifted to these thoughts, then let them go, and return to the object of focus in the meditation.

The repeated awareness and letting go of these thoughts and memories reinforce them in your long-term memory.

Meditation for memory improvement: Computer memory drive
Meditation for memory improvement: Computer memory drive

Does meditation for memory improvement work?

Meditation for memory improvement has a double positive effect on memory, one behavioral and one physiological.

Behaviorally meditation can improve the ‘encoding’ stage of how memory works. The more we meditate, the more we practice focusing our attention. A 2018 study showed that even brief meditation amongst novices improved attention.

This is why we naturally remember more about things we enjoy. We remember more because we are paying our undivided attention to that subject. I used to struggle to remember what I ate the meal before, but I could remember almost every visual and audio aspect of any film I watched.

Physiologically, meditation actually changes the structure of the brain to make it better at remembering.

In a 2019 study, participants who meditated regularly saw an increase in the volume of the part of the brain related to dealing with the processing of memories, the hippocampus. 79 participants meditated regularly with nearly all showing an increase in the density of the hippocampus.

So, going back to the stages of memory, this would improve the ‘storage’ of memory. It’s similar to your computer which has a larger hard drive to store information.

To answer the question of whether meditation improves meditation – the answer is a firm yes.

I’ve not measured it scientifically, but I did personally notice my memory improved after three months of meditation. Especially at work, I noticed I was able to recall figures better, and remember what was discussed in emails without searching for them. What was a moment of joy was when I remembered verbatim what was agreed in a call the previous week and one of the parties was trying to wiggle their way out of their responsibilities.

Meditation for memory improvement:  Meditating
Meditation for memory improvement: Meditating

What type of meditation improves memory?

There are benefits to memory with all types of meditation. But one that is the most science-backed technique of meditation for memory improvement is mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness itself isn’t a meditation in itself. Mindfulness is a way of living. Mindfulness is the act of actively paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. What this means in everyday life is that you pay attention to whatever you are doing at that moment, this could be making a cup of coffee, and if any thoughts arise, you notice them, let them go, and bring your awareness to the task in hand – making coffee.

Meditation is the umbrella term for setting a fixed amount of time to improve yourself. So we can be mindful throughout the day, but when we set a fixed time it is mindfulness meditation.

Many types of sleep meditation are also beneficial as sleep has several memory-improving processes such as clearing out toxins in the brain and processing and embedding memories.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Meditation For Sleep

How to meditate for memory improvement

So we now know that regular meditation practice can improve your memory and the most researched meditation techniques involve mindfulness meditation. So how do we practice mindfulness meditation? I’m glad you asked.

5 – 10 minute mindfulness meditation practice

This mindfulness meditation involves focusing your awareness on the breath. You can set a timer for five or ten minutes or just try it for as long as feels comfortable.

01: Find somewhere comfortable to sit

When practicing meditation, you don’t have to sit in any special way. You can use a chair or a cushion, whatever feels comfortable for the duration of the practice.

02: Take a couple of deep breaths

I always like to start my mindfulness meditation practice with a deep breath. It’s not essential, but it’s my way of telling the mind to calm down, let go of any tension and stress, and focus on meditation.

03: Focus your awareness on your breath

Once you’ve taken a couple of deep breaths, return your breathing to a natural rhythm. At this point, your self-awareness might be on overdrive but try not to overthink your breathing. Try to remain focused on the part of your body where you feel your breath the most. This could be around the nostrils or the rise and fall of your abdomen.

04: Get ready for the thoughts…

If this is your first mindfulness meditation (or any type of meditation training) you’ll very quickly be faced with thoughts rising, trying their best to take your awareness away from your meditation. When thoughts arise, just notice them, and without any judgment, let them go. Bring your self-awareness back to the breath.

05: And repeat

The brain will try its best to distract you from the present moment. Each time it does, just notice that it’s happened, and bring your awareness back to the breath.

The takeaway

Mindfulness meditation can improve your memory by improving sustained attention, improving focus, and developing the capacity of the brain to retain memories. Particularly mindful meditation can help improve working, long-term, and short-term memory. Research has shown that regularly practicing mindfulness meditation will result in an improvement in memory.

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