Mental Addition

Can a normal person with a good memory and a liking for numbers be taught to
become a mental calculating wizard? Yes, in fact, in a month or two of consistent
training, a person could appear to be a calculating prodigy. As with most things,
practice is extremely important. Most lightning calculators "play" with numbers day
and night, and they delight in finding new ways that certain numbers relate to each
other. Numbers are their language, and they create harmonies with them in their
For centuries there have been exceptional examples of human calculators. Studies
of lightning mental calculators have revealed that they primarily are either visualizers
or auditory-rhythmic types (kinesthetic types have not yet been recognized). Long
tables of squares, cubes, logarithms and countless other numerical facts are stored in
the subconscious memories of human calculators along with hundreds of shortcut
procedures in calculation. Some seem to develop their skill at an early age and have a
natural flair for calculating. For instance, at the age of 3, Carl Friedrich Gauss
looked at his father's weekly payroll for his laborers and said "Father, the reckoning
is wrong ... " The child's solution turned out to be right and yet no one had taught
him arithmetic!
Practicing preliminary basics acquaints the mind to the shortcut techniques that
eventually become automatic when the right brain takes over. It's like passing a
critical threshold and suddenly a shift takes place. The calculating process is so fast
that it becomes hard for the conscious mind to explain the process to a listener.
To add columns of figures more rapidly, start pairing your numbers so that you
think of 2 digits as one.

Practice pairing until it becomes automatic. Now design single columns of
numbers and as fast as you can, add them up running your finger down the columns.
Doing the following problem with the old-fashioned method, from right to left,
you find that the 9 and 1 add to 10, leaving you with 1 to carry. If you go from left
to right by pairing, you get a 7 and a 10. When the sum of a column of figures has
more than one digit, simply add the 10's digit to the preceding column. In our
example, since 9 + 1 is 10, you simply add the 10's digit to 5 + 2 to make 8; thus 80
is the answer.


The simplicity of this left to right process will reveal itself with practice. Now pair

the following:

49+23 73+19 62+29 84+18 28+49 57+43 84+17 15+89 61+39 43+29 25+47

Now do some other examples in your mind and see how much easier it feels.