“Sometimes we don’t know the value of the moment… until it is a memory. Exploring our memories and the emotions attached to them is key to finding out what we value, and what we fear.” ― Guru Tua
Understanding what we fear and value is key to unlocking the subconscious mind. Our memories often contain the data for our fears and values.
This article covers two exercises that will reveal the layers of your subconscious mind. We recommend using them at least once a week for at least a month to gain momentum. After a few months, you will see thoughts, patterns, and threads that connect memories to your dreams. Then you can begin using your memory to create positive change.
These methods are powerful inner work tools. If you have underlying psychological issues, they are likely to show up in these exercises. So use them with care. You can do these on your own, but we recommend a partner on the same quest. This exercise focuses on finding what we value and what we fear.
“No matter how far we go into the future, there will always be new things happening, new information coming in, new worlds to explore, a constantly expanding domain of life, consciousness, and memory.” ― Freeman Dyson
Here’s an exercise that is part of our blended learning process. We use this exercise in the introductory phase of the “Hero’s Journey.” We meet once a week and work with this exercise for about 15 minutes each session. Our research shows that brief periods every week are better for one lengthy session. This practice primes the pump for other exercises, such as lucid dreaming.
Using Your Memory as a Tool
Memory is a remarkable tool. We can learn how to use it for optimal learning, and we can also use it to find out more about ourselves. One of the critical discoveries of this exercise is finding out how many positive memories you have.
“Stored personal memories along with handed down collective memories of stories, legends, and history allow us to collate our interactions with a physical and social world and develop a personal code of survival. In essence, we all become self-styled sages, creating our own book of wisdom based upon our studied observations and practical knowledge gleaned from living and learning.
We quickly discover that no textbook exists on how to conduct our life, because the world has yet to produce a perfect person – an ideal observer – who is capable of handing down a concrete exemplar of epistemic virtues. We each draw upon the guiding knowledge, theories, and advice available for us to explore the paradoxes, ironies, inconsistencies, and absurdities encountered while living in a supernatural world.
We mold our personal collection of information into a practical practicum on how to live and die. Each day we define and redefine who we are, determine how we will react today, and chart our quest into an uncertain future.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
Many people will only find one or two memories in the first few sessions. As we spend time on this over the next few months, the number jumps exponentially. It is not uncommon for people to end up with hundreds of these positive memory snapshots after three months.
We find that many positive memories share a common theme, which shows us the things we value. It teaches us how to focus our lives to bring more happiness into our lives.
1) Find What We Value Using Your Memory
This exercise is the first part of the training for exploring the subconscious mind. We’ll summarize here. It works best following four steps:
1 Document. Use a journal. Don’t start without having paper and pen ready to document because things can go fast when you open up the subconscious mind. When you write, you slow things down, and this is helpful. Slowing down the pace will make sure you miss nothing important. You’ll want to document the memories, the feelings, and connections to other memories. You don’t have to write complete sentences, just the key points, words, etc.
2 Find positive memories. Limit your time in the exploration phase. We recommend 15 to 20 minutes for this part. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so don’t do too much in one round. We think of it as eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? You eat an elephant one bite at a time. If you follow the guidelines for the time limits, you’ll get the most out of the exercise.
3 Expanding and exploring memories. We recommend spending at least 15 minutes on this part of the exercise. It seems hard at first because you may not have all your senses engaged in the memory. But once you do this exercise a few times, you find your memories often have many connections hidden in the details and references to other memories. Don’t explore the relationships yet. Keep expanding the memory in as many directions forward and backward. As a side note, learning to base relationships on healthy spiritual energy rather than superficial and temporary conditions will bring long-lasting enjoyment, and this exercise may hold the key.
4 Explore the connections. The last part of the exercise explores the links you found when you were expanding the memory. Many people find they can spend 20 minutes easily on this part. You may have discovered additional memories the open up other connections. Be sure to keep documenting everything. You will likely find links to dreams and daydreams as you explore these connections.
Finding What you Value
Step One ― Document Findings
You will need a spiritual journal to record this exercise. A cheap ring-bound notepad works fine. The important part is that you use a pen or pencil on paper. Do not use a digital journal, and there are several reasons for this. Your handwriting will reveal emotions that you cannot hide or didn’t know were there. It also slows down the process. It helps to keep you from missing important data.
You’ll probably create several of these journals. You should have one to record your dreams first thing in the morning. And you’ll have one for this exercise where you investigate memory.
You’ll find correlations that appear in other parts of your spiritual exploration. These synchronicities will appear in your dreams, daydreams. They will surface in omens that arise in ordinary reality. The Universe is trying to communicate with us. We need to learn to open our spiritual eyes and hearts to perceive them.
Step Two ― Find What We Value
To begin, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Search your memory for three short positive snapshot memories, years apart if possible. You are searching for memories, like snapshots, seconds in duration at most, not minutes. Most people will find their memory will crystallize these events because of some significant association.
For your initial trip down memory lane, search for positive snapshots, not negative ones. It’s imperative to seek only positive memories at this point. The mind is like a wild horse, and we want to lead it where we want to go. The best way to do this is by starting with positive or pleasurable memories. The more positive memories you find, the farther back in history you will go. Exploring memories will become something the mind looks forward to doing. That’s what you want.
Be sure to take it slow, one memory at a time. It can be challenging to focus on one at a time because other things will appear once you dive into the subconscious mind. Document things as they come up. Don’t wait until the end of the session, or you’ll like to miss some things. You don’t need to write complete sentences, just keywords, topics, draw pictures, feelings.
This exercise could take some time because many of our “significant” memories revolve around stories and not snapshots. But they are there; you need to rummage around a while.
You may need to think about this and doodle it in your journal. Some people take a break or two. The goal is to find at least three. If you find over three, that’s great. Look for positive memories only. Steer away from negative memories at this point.
Step Three ― Expanding Memories
Once you have identified at least three positive snapshots, hold them in your “minds-eye.” Now, describe them in writing. Tell the story behind them. Describe the colors and smells that correspond to them.
Start expanding upon the positive memory. Ask yourself questions about it. What was I wearing? Who was else was there? Can you see what they were wearing?
Go to the beginning of the memory. Can you push it back further in time? What happened before this memory? It may allow you to see what happened prior. The memory capacity is more significant than we think. You’ve probably got other data stored that you don’t realize.
Go to the last part of the memory. Can you push the memory further? What happens next or afterward?
Describe your ideas and feelings about each with as much detail as possible. It will help you see other connections to other thoughts, memories, and dreams that might surface.
The next time you do the exercise, you may find more details will emerge. You may also find it links to other memories.
Step Four ― Connecting to Other Memories
Finally, go online and find three pictures that correspond emotionally to these memories. The emotional attachment you associate with the memory may only be a small portion of the actual memory. Ask yourself more questions:
- Is there a pattern in these memories? Are there similar topics or themes?
- Are the memories or associations related in some way?
- Do these memories appear in your dreams?
Now, once you put your memories in perspective, things will start to bubble to the surface of your awareness. These positive snapshots show you what you value. These are the things you need more of in your life.
Find What We Fear
We do not recommend moving to the second exercise until after working with positive memories weekly for at least three months. Once you have a solid foundation for positive memories, you are ready to venture into the darker territory.
Now go back, and instead of looking for the positive, seek negative memories. For many people, this can be scary. So limit your exploration time to 15 minutes. If you have suffered trauma, it’s best to work with a partner. Write your immediate feelings but don’t dwell on them, or you will get bogged down or sidetracked. We don’t need to live on our fears. We want to identify them to reduce their influence in our lives.
At the end of this session, go back to your list of positive memories. Don’t let your discovery of negative memories also trap you in a victim mentality. Bring your focus back to that of the survivor and victor. You do this by bringing positive memories back to the forefront.
This second exercise’s facing what we fear to conquer the fear. It doesn’t mean the trauma didn’t occur. It means we move from being a victim through surviving to a victor. It will have a profound effect on our outlook on life.
Exploring Memories is a powerful inner work journey. We learn our memories can either help or hinder us. They color our worldview. In this way, our subconscious mind affects the way we think. So, this journey down memory lane can be a real epiphany.
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(1) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia