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ReTagging Memories

( Continued from the previous post: The Art of Healing Memories that Hurt )

How do you Retag an Unpleasant Memory? Are there any prerequisites to retag?

There are two ways to retag a memory. The first method involves meditation. Meditation simply put is inner engineering. It helps in rewiring the brain so that we do not RE-ACT, instead we ACT differently. It is a process by which all of us grow and mature. Some sit and meditate consciously, whereas for the vast majority, meditation happens as we go through life experiences, which in turn impact the way perceive and react. Eventually as we go through the event, replay it and look at it holistically we are able to STOP reacting and act differently and that is when the attribute of the memory changes. Whilst conscious meditation or therapy could hasten the process, the slow and the natural method too works just as well

Then there is a spontaneous way, an automated way of retagging, and that involves a Paradigm shift.

Let me illustrate this with a story I read long time ago and that helped me understand a paradigm shift.

Here goes.

The train came to a halt at Brisbane station. A man came in along with a young excited boy and took his seat in a cabin which he shared with three elderly men. The father doted on his child. The small boy was quite loud, yet the father never got irritated with his son. For quite some time after the train departed from the station the father had been holding on tight as the boy wriggled and struggled to get down and play. Finally the father relented.

As soon as he got free, the boy started jumping and playing in the cabin. He was giggling to himself and talking to invisible people around. Once in a while he used to come out of the reverie and then go to a co passenger in the cabin and start talking to them in spite of their attempts to ignore him. From time to time the father did try to hold the boy back, but after a while he leaned on the window and kept looking outside.

Harry, one of the senior members in the cabin was irritated by the behavior of this small boy. The boy, sat on his lap uninvited and interrupted his game of crosswords. He kept chattering something and then kissed him before moving on to another co passenger. He was back again in no time.

As the boy continued his antics, the father just kept looking out of the window oblivious of the boy's antics. Harry made up his mind to have a word with the father. He knew what to say. Having been a grandfather he had numerous incidents where he had to give a piece of his mind to the new generation of parents. Having been a frequent traveler for the last thirty years he had quite a few unpleasant memories such as these. In order to make sure that he delivered his message well he did a quick mental rehearsal: “ Children are to be disciplined and it is the parents responsibility to do so. You cannot unleash your child on unsuspecting passengers as you sit and relax….”

Lost in his reverie, Harry suddenly became aware of the silence in the cabin. He looked and saw that the child had kept his head on the fathers lap and had dozed off in no time. Wow that was fast he thought.

Just before Harry could get up to go and speak with the father, the father gently lay down the child’s head on the seat and got up. He then approached the three gentlemen who were visibly irritated. As the father came close, Harry noticed that he had tears in his eyes. It was when the father spoke that Harry was glad he hadn’t spoken to the father earlier.

“ My son was in hospital for over a month. He has got a tumor in the brain and even after two surgeries the doctors haven’t been able to do much. Just yesterday the doctors told us that the best thing to do was to take him home so that he can spend his last days with his family. My son however feels that he is all right, now that he has been discharged. He was never like this before. I think it is his way of rejoicing life, of sharing his happiness with those around. He keeps thanking people, laughing to himself and has been the happiest I have seen him from the time we found the tumor on his sixth birthday. I would like to thank you all for bearing with him, please do accept my heartfelt apologies for the inconvenience he has caused you…”

Harry eyes too brimmed with tears. Oh My God ! he thought. How selfish and self centered have I been. With the revelation the attitude of all the others in the cabin too became different. When the small boy got up a while later and got going, everyone in the cabin joined him. Harry hugged him, kissed him back and laughed and played with him. The others too shared their love with the kid in their own unique ways…………..

Here we see ways in which a paradigm shift can impact our perception. The child did not change his behaviour nor did the elders make a valiant effort to love the child. A change in paradigm, changed the way the others reacted to the same stimulus. Before the young boy slept they were irritated with him and wanted to take the father to task. Post the revelation about his brain tumor and after getting to know about the impending death of a six year old, the very same people felt sad for the boy. Their hearts filled with love and they did the best to make him happy.

Just like in this story, in real life too we have aha moments that might change a bad memory to good and vice a versa. Many have experienced this spontaneous retagging of memories due to a paradigm change.

Meditation can accelerate this process. It can help us clear all that stress that lies embedded in sad and negative memories. Once we realize that Positive and Negative are just a viewpoints, all that needs to be done is to Act on a memory that we would like to retag. If your previous reaction to a memory has caused sadness and pain, it is absolutely of no use to go the same path again and again. Isn't reaction the same as replay? Action happens only in the present. Every memory unflolds only in the present and hence we have a choice to act differently on the memory- especially the sad and the hurtful ones. Once we have acted differently on the memory, we can tag it so as to attach a new attribute to it. Once a memory, especially a traumatic one is retagged it will no longer have those fangs that poison us every time the memory resurfaces.


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