What are some of the most memorable moments in your life? You know—the ones you like to play over and over? Where you laughed until you cried, played hard, loved deeply and felt really alive? Holidays tend to be memory makers. To get yours off to a great, peace-filled start, let’s do a guided “memory-tation” (meditating on a memory).
Find a comfortable spot to sit and be still. Close your eyes. Allow your body to soften. Start by breathing in a natural breathing rhythm. With each inhalation feel your chest and belly expand. As you exhale start at the top of your head and allow your neck muscles to ease into the breath. With the next exhalation notice your shoulders soften. Be intentional with each breath, in order to release muscle tension. Now deepen your inhalation and exhale slower with easy focus (noticing but not concentrating too hard). Continue the breath exercise in this manner, paying attention to your arms, hands, chest, belly, hips, thighs, butt, calves and feet. Once you feel completely relaxed, you’re ready to relive the memory.
Allow your mind to wander into the archive of memories. Notice what comes up naturally, without force. Once you’ve identified the memory, you will quickly be reminded of all the sensations attached to the story. Atmosphere, colors, smells, location, people, faces, clothes, activities, smiles, tastes, laughter, tears, stories. Don’t rush through it. Fairly quickly, you will probably see and feel your body respond to these memories. Our muscles store these memories. Even when you try to forget, perhaps an unpleasant occasion—the muscles remember your response at the time. When an emotion triggers the same kind of feeling, it is not unusual for you to feel it in the same muscle area. It is activating your “muscle memory.” The negative memories tend to come with added tension in the body. The good memories produce a release of tension. Simple breathing exercises will help let go of this tension. This technique will be useful in keeping you more grounded during what can sometimes be a more hectic time of year. Repeat as needed.
I also like the instant “déjà vu” kinds of memory reminders. This can be triggered by just about anything that repeats an action or activity that was done in the past. Recently I was shopping for a Candle Wishes birthday boy. I had not shopped in the same way since my sons were younger. Walking down the aisle with my cart, looking at all of the toys and 12-year-olds’ clothing, I was instantly transported back in time to when my children were this age and we were wanting them to have presents on Christmas morning. How nervous I felt about getting them items they would be thrilled to have. I wanted those times to be special. I remembered how money was tight and it was a big deal to be picking out presents for them. Other feelings that came up were how I felt about myself as a parent back then. It was amazing to experience all of that within just a few moments of shopping.
Another time I remember retelling a story of when I was only 10 years old and my father was talking about leaving our family. As I was telling the story, the same fear and sadness I felt as a 10-year-old showed in my face and my voice. This was so apparent that the person I was relaying the story to said “Oh my gosh, you should see your face right now . . . you look like you’re 10 years old.” I was in my late 40s. That’s how quickly we can transport ourselves, in mind, back in time to relive moments that made an impression. They are still alive inside.
While you are making new memories be sure to revisit one or two that made you feel great happiness in your life. Then bring that back to life just one more time.
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl