Memories can lift us up or haunt us! Which will you choose?
It’s Memorial Day—the day we remember all our fallen soldiers. Honoring those memories is an important part of this day. Let’s explore how memories affect our physical, mental, and emotional health. Memories are stored in our Hippocampus. This part of the brain’s temporal lobe is where “episodic or autobiographical memories are formed and indexed for later access.” It is also the part of the brain that connects sensations, smells, and new memories to these stored memories. When the memory is good, it brings up positive or renewing emotions, but when the memory is bad, it can bring up depleting or negative emotions.
All of my memories of my mom are uplifting. When I think of all the times we either spent together or on the phone talking, I feel happy and loved. That helps my heart and brain to get into a coherent state, which reduces inflammation, lowers my blood pressure, helps me think clearer and basically feel good.
Can we keep the good memories and eliminate the bad ones?
Yes and No. It is not that we forget our bad memories, but we can learn to develop different reactions to them as they are triggered by new ones. It all starts with Awareness. When a new experience triggers a memory that is not pleasant, we can:
- Become aware of our feelings (possible write down the trigger and the feelings) and
- Spend time recognizing where in the body those feelings are being felt
Here is a picture of an emotional wheel designed by Lyndsay Braman that I purchased the license to use that might help you identify where the unpleasant emotions show up in your body.
Letting Go of Painful Memories– a HeartMath® inspired breathing practice!
Using your breath and the activation of positive emotions, you can release the heavy feeling that triggering memories can bring up. You might have to do this and add in other techniques such as tapping multiple times before you start to feel some relief. However, with practice, your body, heart, and mind will start to more automatically shift into a more coherent state. From this more synchronized state, you can view these memories from a different pair of glasses, one that is a bit more accepting, forgiving, and compassionate.
Like all the skills I have been learning and sharing from both HeartMath® and my yoga pieces of training, it all comes down to one big if—if you practice these skills, they will change your nervous system baseline and your mental, emotional and physical state. Check out all my offerings through my website. Each yoga class I teach I incorporate a mixture of Gentle Somatic Yoga®, Heartmath®, Mudras, Mantras, and a variety of healing yoga and breath practices.