The power of memories in our day-to-day lives is often overlooked. Memories are powerful tools. If used correctly they are tools of positive change.
Memories are often anchors holding us hostage to the past. Memories can color the value of life and relationships. They can be tools for positive change, or they can hold us back. If we recognize their power, then we can use them to improve our life.
Memories can either bind us to the past or link us to the wisdom for living a more enlightened present. ― Guru Tua
When you deal with memories you are venturing into the inner world. We don’t realize how important our memory is. Our memories are our identity. So, understand that this is serious inner work. It can be stressful. Be sure to employ some method of self-care before and after to help normalize.
Tools for Positive Change
Several spiritual technologies provide the catalyst for making positive changes. Any technology which expands awareness, observational, and analytical skills will help you grow. We will show how exploring memories can be a good starting point for your practice of self-discovery.
It’s important to realize that our memories are affected by several things. Memory isn’t static. It is a combination of data that is often infused with emotion and shaped by our imagination.
Time is one of the major factors that can distort or change memories. The emotions we attach to memories also can change their complexion. Our memories of highly emotional events can change as we do inner-work. This is especially true for memories of traumatic events. Our dreams about past events can also change our memories.
Sigmund Freud built his theory of psychotherapy around our dreams and memory. He understood that these can be tools for positive change if we learn how to use them correctly.
Using The Power of Memories
We can spend much of our precious time in places other than the present moment. Don’t let memories hold you hostage. Here’s the process we recommend.
- First, find significant memories, those that are strong emotional triggers. You find these memories using The Repeating Question question exercise. We’ll discuss this process shortly.
- Second, break the links with or between any negative or positive memories. To break them you will need to do some reprogramming of your inner critic self-talk. The Enneagram of Personality is the best tool to find this negative programming and make the thought process changes. We’ll give an example of how this works below.
- Then finally, learn how to turn up the volume on the positive and turn down the volume on the negative. Affirmations are the best tool for this last step. We’ll summarize this step below as well.
Above all, these spiritual technologies stand up to the test of science. They exhibit repeatable common experiential phenomena. And, they also have unique physiological signatures different from the basic states of consciousness (waking, sleeping, and dreaming). So, they require no belief or faith in any religious doctrine. Therefore, all you need to do is follow the process correctly.
Spiritual technologies are tools for exploring consciousness. They result from generations of research by cultures around the world. These processes stand up to the test of science. They are repeatable and measurable. They do not require belief in religious doctrine. So, everyone who can follow a process can use them. We call the practice of these processes spiritual exploration.
When we deal with memory, we are working with something that is changing. We think our memories are stable and concrete but they are more like jello. So, we will take one of the basic tools for positive change and show you how it works.
The Repeating Question
This is a universal technique that you will find helpful for several processes. It is one of the core tools when using the Enneagram Personality Profile in a group setting. This type of repetitive questioning gets below the superficial automatic responses to the core thinking and values.
Ideally, you work with a partner who asks and times the session. But, you can do this on your own. The basic ground rules for this exercise are first, it is important to remain non-judgemental. Second, total confidentiality.
We use this repeating Question in the process of exploring memories. With a partner, you sit facing each other. Your partner asks and you answer. You jot down a few keywords to help you remember your answer. Then, your partner asks again. You do this for 5 minutes. One question for 5 minutes seems like a long time, but once you get started, it goes quickly. Initially, you’ll give superficial answers, but if you keep asking the same question long enough, you’ll pull up some interesting data about your memories and the emotions attached to them.
- The key here is, giving honest answers.
- Don’t say things you want the other person to hear.
- It’s best to work with someone you don’t know well.
When you use the repeating question on your own, set a timer, be honest. Repeat the question out loud, don’t just repeat it in your head. You will probably need to do this exercise longer than 5 minutes to get to anything meaningful.
A suggested list of repeating questions
Here is the list of Repeating Questions we recommend for identifying significant memories:
- Tell me about a memory that always makes you happy.
- Tell me about a memory that always makes you sad.
- What is the oldest memory you have, how does it make you feel?
- Tell me about a memory you associate with hate.
- Tell me about a memory you associate with love.
- What are the memories of childhood that bring you the most joy?
- Tell me about a memory you associate with nature.
- Tell me about a memory you associate with family.
- What memories bring up the emotion of fear?
When you’ve completed the session, review the keywords you’ve jotted down and flesh out the memories in more detail. You’ll end up with a memory inventory of positively and negatively charged memories. Some memories you’ve listed may be things you haven’t recalled in some time, at least on a conscious level. And, some memories may be on more than one list. The power of memories will start to make more sense, the more you explore them.
Breaking the Link
After you’ve completed a memory inventory, you may discover the same memory has both negative and positive emotions attached. The power of memory lies in their ability to color our present reality. Memory changes over time, especially when there are strong emotions attached. The fact that they change is key to our ability to break negative emotional links.
For example, you experience a happy event, a marriage ceremony. This initially becomes a happy memory you associate the memories of this event with love. You feel betrayed. The memory of the marriage ceremony becomes associated with betrayal a negative memory. This association then negatively colors your value of marriage or ceremonies or both. Breaking the link is a decision. A decision to reduce or eliminate the negative association with the event. This will mitigate its effect on our life, our emotions, our paradigm.
As with our example above, we will not erase the memory. We can, however, reduce the effect of the memory. We learned we that associate the betrayal with the marriage ceremony and understand that it taints our view of all relationships. So, we mitigated the negative effect of our memory. This may take some time but it is possible. The more inner work on this you do, the more progress you will make.
We “know” how the act of betrayal taints the ceremony of the relationship. We chose to remove this association. As we attend other marriage ceremonies we can check in with ourselves emotionally. Asking yourself how we feel and checking to see if the past negative association is still tainting the event. If the association still exists, then we can consciously keep deciding to move it away from this to the responsible party.
Adjusting the Volume
This the last part of the strategy on taking control of the power of memories. It can also be the most effective. You have your inventory of memories and those that are associated with positive emotions. Now make these positive memories a part of your daily affirmations. Turn up the volume on your positive memories by bringing to the forefront of your awareness. Put keywords that bring these positive memories to your awareness. It’s as simple as that. But, it is a very powerful way to use the power contained within our memories.
We also recommend the use of another powerful exercise for exploring memories. We use it in our introductory phase. This helps us to expand our awareness and find what we value and what we fear.
The interesting thing is that the more you do this exercise the more other positive memories will come forward. You will begin to gain momentum turning the power of memories to your advantage. This will increase your positive outlook on life. People with positive outlooks tend to attract other positive people and situations.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia