Exploring Memories — The Importance of Memories as Tools for Healing Grief and Trauma

Exploring Memories — The Importance of Memories as Tools for Healing

Our memories contain important data that can help us understand what we value, fear, and why.  They are the key to unlocking the subconscious mind.  Exploring our memories opens a whole new perspective.  Are you ready for this journey?

“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

The importance of memories as tools for healing grief and trauma is often overlooked unless they create problems in our present life, such as PTSD.  Our psyche contains layers upon layers of memories that influence our thoughts.  If we understand how memory affects thinking, we understand what we value and fear.

The Path Exploring Memories

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, consult your physician before using this technique.  Use them with care.  You can do these independently, but we recommend a partner on the same quest.  This exercise will focus on helping us understand what we value and fear so that we can use this information to help us overcome personal roadblocks.

“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.  (1)  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.

The Importance of Memories as Tools

Memory is a remarkable tool.  We can learn how to use it for optimal learning and 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.

By exploring memories, you will understand what we value and fear are closely related.  Sometimes they are the polar opposite, and sometimes they represent the difference between having and not having.

Many people have suffered traumatic events that leave scars on the psyche.  When we understand the power of memory, we can use memories as tools for healing grief and trauma.  Before we get to this aspect of inner work, we must build a foundation of positive memories to use in place of these damaging scripts.  You can’t erase bad experiences, but you can learn to reduce their emotional impact by turning down the volume and redirecting the mind to more positive memories.

“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. 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 can hand down a concrete exemplar of epistemic virtues. We each draw upon the guiding knowledge, theories, and advice available 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

Exploring Memory to Understand What We Value

path exploring memories understand what we value

You may only find one or two memories in the first few sessions.  The number jumps exponentially as we spend time on this over the next few months.  It is not uncommon for people to end up with hundreds of these positive memory snapshots after three months.  It shows us the importance of memories as layers of coded information.

Positive memories often share a common theme, showing us what we perceive as valuable.  It teaches us how to focus our lives on bringing more happiness.

Exercise One, Exploring Positive Memories

This exercise is the first part of the training for exploring the subconscious mind.  We’ll summarize here.

1 Document.  Use a journal.  Don’t start without having paper and pen ready to document because things can go fast when you open 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, 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.  Positive memories are the key to memories as tools for healing grief and trauma.

3 Expand and explore 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.

4 Explore the connections.  The last part of the exercise explores the links you found when expanding the memory.  Many people find they can spend 20 minutes easily on this part.  You may have discovered additional memories that open up other connections.  Be sure to keep documenting everything.  You will probably find links to dreams and daydreams as you explore these connections.

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 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 and daydreams.  They will surface in omens that arise in ordinary reality.  The Universe is trying to communicate with us.  We must learn to open our spiritual eyes and hearts to perceive them.  And it is one of the keys to using memories as tools for healing grief and trauma.

Step Two ― Understand What We Value

To begin, sit comfortably and close your eyes.  If possible, search your memory for three short, positive snapshot memories years apart.  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.

Search for positive snapshots, not negative ones, for your initial trip down memory lane.  It’s imperative to seek only positive memories at this point.  The mind is like a wild horse; 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.  Focusing on one memory at a time is hard 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’d like to miss some things.  You don’t need to write complete sentences, just keywords, topics, draw pictures, and feelings.

This exercise could take time because many of our significant memories revolve around stories, not snapshots.  But they are there; you need to rummage around for 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 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.  Memory capacity is more significant than we think.  You’ve probably got other data stored 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, more details will emerge.  You may also find it links to other memories.

Step Four ― Connecting to Other Memories

Finally, find three pictures that correspond emotionally to these memories online.  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?

Once we put memories in perspective, things will start to bubble to the surface.  These positive snapshots help us understand what we value.  These are the things we need more of in our life.  At this point, we understand the importance of memories for framing reality.

Exercise Two Exploring Negative Memories

We do not recommend moving to the second exercise, with negative memories, until you have worked with this first exercise four or five times for at least one month.  In one month, you should be able to find ten to fifty memories.  If you can’t find at least five positive memories take a break.

Our fears associated with memories will often surface with little effort.  But be careful to explore them until you have experience looking for positive memories.  Once you have a solid foundation, you are ready to venture into the darker territory.

“The path exploring memories” teaches us how to direct our attention so that we do not become stuck or bogged down in harmful thinking patterns.

Now go back and seek negative memories instead of looking for the positive.  For many people, this can be scary.  So limit your exploration time to 15 minutes.  If you have suffered trauma, working with a partner is best.  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 on our lives.

At the end of this session, return 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 faces what we 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.

Memories as Tools for Healing Grief and Trauma

You will create two lists if you have used the path exploring memories correctly.  One list will contain memories of pain and trauma.  The other list will contain positive memories.  Sadly, many people have more negative than positive memories.   But numbers do not matter.  In the process of healing, the quality of the positive memory matters.  Positive memories will triumph over the negative when used correctly, underscoring the importance of memories as tools for healing grief and trauma.

We recommend you work with a partner on the same journey or with a counselor when dealing with grief and trauma.

Realize that when you recall any memory, you are reliving the event.  Memories are not stagnant scripts; our imagination and experience continually alter them.  These elements adjust the emotional impact.

So when you enter a traumatic memory, a partner or counselor can help you keep one foot grounded in the present while you work to adjust the volume.  A partner or counselor is similar to the role of the hypnotist.  However, instead of implanting suggestions, they will keep you as calm as possible with affirming words of encouragement or touch.

In Conclusion

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.  We understand what we value, and fear is a continuum.  You can’t see the real value until you contrast the extremes.

We welcome your feedback on this process.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have comments or questions.

This exercise is one tool we use in our blended learning process for our learning sessions.  Check out our virtual learning options if you want an individualized virtual learning course.


(1) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand faces, Wikipedia

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