The trap of memories
Understanding this faculty of human mind and being happy
By Aditi Raman Shridhar
I have a memory of lifetimes but I am not a product of my memories. Most people are products of their memories so they suffer something that happened to them two days ago or even forty years ago,” Sadhguru, an Indian mystic.
Memories and imagination are the two faculties of the human mind that no other living form on this planet possesses. We humans are endowed with nature’s most sophisticated intelligence mechanism through the power of having a psychological timeline in our consciousness. We can simply pause for a minute and travel back in time to any day or year, any situation in our past or transport to any time in the future and imagine what it would be life. Such fantastic tools, aren’t they. However, if you don’t know how to use fantastic tools, they can kill you. Say, if you didn’t know how to use a knife and I give you one, you could easily hold it by its razor-sharp blade side and get scratches or bleed. Interestingly, you wouldn’t know why you are in pain. Only if you experimented to turn the sides or if someone taught you how to, then this same sharp knife could become your most powerful tool in life.
The mind works in similar ways. Memories can haunt you or make you feel pleasant, and imagination can make you delusional or give you the right choice of action to take in your present moment. The choice is yours.
So, what are memories? Simply put, memories are stories that have happened with you or that you have created (depending on whether or not you believe that you are the creator of your own life). Memories are dead and just a stack of stories and information that you have witnessed in your life. They have no bearing on your present moment and they can do you no harm. Memories are always laden with emotions. Every person, situation, thing that you remember from your past are laced with happiness or sadness, thrill or hurt, pain, guilt shame or courage, joy or desperation. When a happy moment comes to mind, it makes you feel pleasant and a traumatic event hurts you. Depending on the intensity of the emotion associated with the memory, the mind deals with them in different ways.
“When a hurtful memory flashes up in front of your eyes, the brain believes that the story is real and is happening in real time,” says Jeffrey Allen, famous scientist-turned energy healer. “And you might start to behave in the same way you did years ago when the scene actually happened, may be by crying and fighting with those related to your memory, or you might find another response to deal with it. You could forgive yourself and others and release the pain and hurt you associated to that memory.”
The single most efficient way to kill the daunting effects of a traumatic memory, is by recognising that it is a memory which has no bearing on your present moment. The second step is to recognise the emotion associated with it and release them by forgiveness and filling it up with joy or some gratitude because it might have moved you in some way and made you a better person today.
It is important to remember that no matter how traumatic or depressing some memories might seem, it is necessary to recognise the good that came from it. Because, there every sad situation brings out something positive in all of us and it always turns out to be a blessing in some way.
Many people and especially youngsters, who choose substance abuse over healing and meditation, miss the point that substances only numb memories only to bring them back more intensely after the hangover. Meditation on the other hand heals the trauma itself, releasing the stories and emotions of pain from their very roots, making you lighter and happier permanently.
Memories –for success or self-torture?
Famous contemporary psychologists such as Marisa Peer, energy healers like Christie Marie Sheldon and Jeffrey Allen, world famous Indian Yogis like ParamhansaYogananda and Vivekananda, all stress upon the habit of mishandling memories as the number one tool of self-torture amongst humans. This is because humans don’t know how to use the most powerful tool that they have been blessed with.
“If a human being is a product of his memory and wants to numb them with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, then it essentially means that he is not equipped to handle the sophisticated tools bestowed on him as a human being. He is wishing to be an earthworm or any other creature but not a human. And that is laughable,” says Sadhguru.
“I work with the most career-wise successful people of England and United States,” says Marisa Peer. “And their biggest blocks in their lives, whether in money, relationships, love, health and general happiness comes from traumatic memories of their childhood.”
Peer narrates several stories of her work and experiences with multi-millionaires, on her YouTube channel and blog. She says her clients live in breath-taking mansions and have the most expensive cars parked in their porch, yet they rue the day when their parent dismissed them in their childhood, or did something cruel verbally, emotionally or physically. They feel they are not good enough to be loved as their parents never paid them any attention, Peer says. Or they are hurt because some elder told them in their teens that they didn’t deserve to have everything in life because they weren’t from the right family, or right culture, or the right school.
Christie Marie Sheldon says that the blueprint of our life, our beliefs and emotions become cemented in the ages 0 to 7. If you are facing challenges in some areas of your life as an adult it is because you have been fed wrong information in your childhood. And since we are all essentially product of our memories, we simply act out the way we were taught something. Memories, even if pleasant can haunt you if you don’t have a great life currently. So, erasing the past stories and creating new ones in the present are essential ways of handling memories.
The concept of memories is not clear to people, ParamhansaYogananda says. Memory must not be confused with intelligence. Memory is a stack of information while intelligence is inner knowing. Memories are essential for our wellbeing and survival. Imagine if you forgot your name and family members every single day or if you forgot the way the world works, how would you enjoy your life? But if you learnt how to be detached by your happy and sad memories, and use all your learnt information to apply into the world for success in love, health, career and wealth, then it would be so wonderful.
While memories are vivid for all us as we have experienced them since our birth in this lifetime, but a lot of memories exist invisibly too in our existence too. Memories carry themselves through lifetimes in mind, body and spirit in the subtle plane of energy. This is why there are many unexplained causes of why some people are completely different from the families they are born into. For example, child prodigies who show extraordinary talents in various areas of life without having inherited them from their parents or ancestors are a classic example of how memories travel across lifetimes.
If you are aware of the term ‘past life regression therapy’, then you would understand what I am talking about. In the early 2000s, India witnessed a wave of mass spiritual enlightenment through the concept of Past Life Regression Therapy. Popular television channels started showcasing episodes of energy healers cleansing people’s energies and curing them of unexplained and chronic physical discomforts.
There was an episode that I vividly remember as it was the first time I had ever been introduced to the concept of past life and energy. It featured a popular Indian actress Celina Jaitely who said she had been suffering from a chronic pain in her abdomen since childhood and in spite of treatments from the best doctors worldwide and having spent tonnes of money, she had found no cure. Finally, when she met a doctor couple who offered her a Past Life Regression Therapy in India, she got completely cured of her pain. She said that the doctors took her into her past lives through hypnosis and she found this particular instance when she had met with a fatal accident. She and her partner, who was driving, both died. In the accident, the vehicle they had collided with lost its grip on the iron rods it was carrying and one sharp heavy rod dislodged from its top and came straight into her car, stabbing her deeply into her abdomen, and killing her instantly. The doctor couple explained that Jaitelyhad been carrying the wound in her mind and spirit and brought it with her in her physical body in her current life.
Soon after this revelation, Jaitely said that she completely overcame her ordeal with her abdomen and the therapy gave her a closure on an emotional level as well.
“The pain of the body is easy to overcome as the body has the ability to heal itself. The suffering is in the mind as the mind and spirit don’t let go of the physical pain very easily and also associates it with various emotions. There is pain of separation, angst of losing one’s loved ones, regret on taking decisions that led to that particular sad situation, etc. And that is what gets carried in our energetic fields from one lifetime to another,” says Sadhguru.
The way forward
Memories are simply stories that we have lived before. They have no bearing on our present moment. You could either use your memories as essential references of information to improve your life in the now or give into the illusion of happiness and sadness that memories bring to mind and you can lose your precious present.
Don’t give into substance abuse to get rid of your memories or numb them. You can’t. The more you try to escape from them, the more they will intensify. The way to understand trauma is by recognising that there was a situation in the past which was unpleasant. The rage it brings with it has to be released through healing and meditation. Write down on paper, how the memory moved you in good and bad ways and how best you can use it as information to improve your life.
Enjoy and manage your memories wisely. It is the best faculty of the mind. Until next week.
Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian writer, wellness expert and health instructor.