Memories! Memories that consume your very being. Memories, that take you down nostalgia lane. Memories that make the past seem so much more beautiful than it actually was. Memories that remind you of all that and all those you left behind…sometimes willingly, some unwillingly, sometimes knowingly and some unknowingly, some painlessly and some with regret. It’s strange what clings to the deepest recesses of your memory walls…emerging when least expected as though someone decided to switch on a torch in a dark cave. Have you ever noticed how you revel in the good memories? Repeating the stories again and again and reliving them each time you tell the story. Ever wonder why you never talk about the bad memories? No brainer, right? Who wants to relive the pain? But what do you do when those memories choose to emerge and come to the forefront of your brain, consuming your thoughts, forcing you to relive the pain and the hurt? What’s the first instinct when that happens? Mine used to be to push them back deep into the deepest dark corners of my mind and forget them all over again. But as you would have noticed, that doesn’t quite work, does it? Because, sooner or later they do manage to surface again, seemingly stronger and louder…usually catching you in a weak moment, when the strength to fight them is apparently inadequate. Result? A bout of depression of varying degree, depending on the intensity of the incident.
I guess, as one grows older, there is an innate need to dig deeper within oneself and re-analyze one’s life-defining, life-changing moments and while you are doing that, it’s really hard not to go back to the bad memories…in fact, that’s where the major learning lies and so, it’s actually unavoidable. Once I realized this, I felt the need to find a better coping mechanism since depression is unproductive and always avoidable. I then remembered something that a yoga-teacher had taught me a few years ago while doing ‘shavasana’…wherein you lie like a corpse, slowly getting every muscle in your body to relax and let go. I remembered her voice softly speaking to us while we lay with our bodies at rest, eyes closed, trying to understand how to relax each group of muscles…once we were done with getting our body to relax, she would then tell us to feel the air go in from our nostrils deep into our lungs and become conscious of the path that air was taking as it went in and out of our body…and then she would tell us to focus on our mind…watch it as though it was external to our being…watch the thoughts that flit in and out of our brain and let them flow without holding on to any thought…and after that, she said… now, as the thoughts flow, pick one, as you would pick up a toy or any other object and turn it around exploring it, casually and then, without getting involved in it, put it down and watch the flow of thoughts again, until another interesting one comes by.
And so, I decided to try this with memories, especially the painful ones. It's turned out to be a very interesting exercise and pretty fruitful, if I may say so, for me at least. I find, that when I consciously open this box of memories and choose, which one I wish to examine, it gives me a sense of control and doesn’t flood my being with the intensity of emotion that I felt when it was involuntary. It also enables me to be objective and makes it possible for me to view the incident from multiple perspectives and that helps me come to an explanation of sorts and that in turn, enables me to put that incident into another box labeled “shit happens” J which I can now peep into from time to time, shrug my shoulders and smile and say “ ya well, you know, you can’t control all that happens in life” …basically, laying it to rest and say RIP. Often I find that it wasn’t as big a deal as it was in my mind and that by trying to shove it under the carpet, I had somehow given it a bigger role in my life, than it deserved. And even more often, I find, that something I had blamed someone else for, was actually more my fault then theirs…because I had been cowardly or not honest enough or wanting to get their approval or..or.. or.. basically I learnt, that I had ‘allowed’ a certain thing to happen because of something I had done, said or left undone and unsaid…so, having figured out that it was my mistake, I find it easier to forget it. It also makes it possible for me to grow some more as an individual, because it teaches me not to repeat the same mistakes. Since life is at another phase today, it imparts a new understanding of people’s behavior in the past… as an adult, a parent, a spouse, a teacher, a friend, a colleague … explains why someone in your life made choices that affected you and your life… you may still not agree with it, but at least you are able to understand it better now… once again helps me put it to rest…no more blame…no more regrets…no more feeling that you didn’t have control… it's done…in the past… and life today, is where it was ‘meant’ to be.
I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, understanding ‘why’ something happened is very essential for me to be able to put it behind me and move on. Of course, no matter how hard you try, some things will have no explanation, no matter which angle and which perspective you look at it…and then, you simply have to learn to push to the deepest corner of your mind and let it remain there…perhaps at some point in future, you may be able to address it…until then, let it rest.