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Present experience brought back childhood experience

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Hi all, a question that has been puzzling in my mind for a while.

So for a while (probably in the past 1 year) I have frequent encounters that whatever happens in my daily lives, it is very likely that something happened in my childhood will appear in my mind. 

For example, the other day I ordered a fish & chip where the chips are of curly types. When the order came and I saw the chips, I immediately recalled my childhood experience that this is the chips that I always wanted to eat in my primary school canteen, but always didn't eat. That everytime I went to canteen, I saw the chips and really wanted to buy but no money (although it cost just 20 cents), that they are put in small packs in a white paper etc. 

I am not sure what does it mean, that all these memory came up back to me quite frequently. I don't recall having this kind of "link-back-to-childhood-memory" thingy before practicing meditation in the past. 

Hope to get some idea here.

Cheers.

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
2/28/19 2:06 AM as a reply to chonghe.
That’s interesting. When I first started practicing the TM technique about 6 or 7 years ago, I used to get random childhood memories arise during practice. They would appear in my mind screen like photographic images of things I had long forgotten about (e.g. a particular toy).

I no longer practice TM and no longer experience any such memory effects, however just recently I did have a flood of childhood memories return over the course of about a week. I can’t say that it’s practuce related as I was not doing anything different. The memories were benign or pleasant.

I wish I could be of more help regarding a potential mechanism, but sometimes these things just happen. The mind is very curious and it’s pretty cool that all these memories are still there and able to be accessed emoticon 

How do you usually respond to the memories when they arise? It would be interesting to note your thoughts / emotions about the memories and see if there’s any pattern or connection... 

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
2/28/19 5:46 AM as a reply to Anna L.
I've noticed this too. My best guess is that meditation fundamentally removes "confusion" --- litterally "fusion-with". It seems like early memories are made by bundling together a bunch of partially understood experiences. They seem to get stored away almost like little fetish ideas -- sort of symbolic, sort of memory, sort of a unanswered question that lingers in the mind. 

When meditation starts working, these tangled thought-emotion-memories sort of get untangled. These old memories pop up. We can see aspects of childhood in a new way and get a better understanding of our history. 

Another dimension of this is that one aspect of meditation is the not-self understanding. Things in our experience are not "the self". And so these memories might be related to the aspect of realizing how all of our ideas about our self are... ideas about our self. 

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
2/28/19 8:09 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Anna L:
That’s interesting. When I first started practicing the TM technique about 6 or 7 years ago, I used to get random childhood memories arise during practice. They would appear in my mind screen like photographic images of things I had long forgotten about (e.g. a particular toy).

I no longer practice TM and no longer experience any such memory effects, however just recently I did have a flood of childhood memories return over the course of about a week. I can’t say that it’s practuce related as I was not doing anything different. The memories were benign or pleasant.

I wish I could be of more help regarding a potential mechanism, but sometimes these things just happen. The mind is very curious and it’s pretty cool that all these memories are still there and able to be accessed emoticon 

How do you usually respond to the memories when they arise? It would be interesting to note your thoughts / emotions about the memories and see if there’s any pattern or connection... 


Thank you for your reply.

During the time when I saw curly fries and wanted to buy but always couldn't get it at the end,
I feel like what I wanted always did not come true, that other people can eat the fries as they wish, but why not me?
That why I am so poor as compared to others, until couldn't even buy a 20 cent curly fries;
that after seeing people buying the fries and eating, they can still put chilli sauce on it while I can only watch them eating

So my response now is towards the negative sides - as I don't understand why these negative experience wants to "find" me now.

shargrol:
I've noticed this too. My best guess is that meditation fundamentally removes "confusion" --- litterally "fusion-with". It seems like early memories are made by bundling together a bunch of partially understood experiences. They seem to get stored away almost like little fetish ideas -- sort of symbolic, sort of memory, sort of a unanswered question that lingers in the mind. 

When meditation starts working, these tangled thought-emotion-memories sort of get untangled. These old memories pop up. We can see aspects of childhood in a new way and get a better understanding of our history. 

Another dimension of this is that one aspect of meditation is the not-self understanding. Things in our experience are not "the self". And so these memories might be related to the aspect of realizing how all of our ideas about our self are... ideas about our self. 


You have a point there. Maybe I should change my thought from "why the memory come back" to "see I can now eat curly fries as I wish".

But then perhaps those experienced in the past have the emotions trapped inside still waiting to be released. But I don't know how

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
2/28/19 12:14 PM as a reply to chonghe.
"But then perhaps those experienced in the past have the emotions trapped inside still waiting to be released."

I went through a period like this a while back and it seems like that stuff is released automatically just by being mindful of those memories as they come up. There were a number of times I had memories or dreams of things that I hadn't thought about in decades, and hadn't realized the impact they had on my views. In one case a memory made me realize i'd judged one person harshly for years because of something that happened due to a choice they made. They hadn't directly hurt me, but a choice they made caused someone else to hurt me. It was only after I recalled that memory that I was able to forgive the person who made the choice, since I could now recognize they never intended me to be hurt. When I was young and encountered the original trauma, I was too caught up in it to make that distinction.

Eventually the constant bubbling up of old memories and traumas slowed down and now it doesn't happen much anymore. One thing I found that was somewhat odd was that any time I released one of those old memories there tended to be a deep sigh accompanying it, like it was being released with the outbreath.

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
3/1/19 10:58 AM as a reply to chonghe.
I've also had a number of childhood memories come up, and recently they've been gently appearing many times a day.  It's not always the case, but I think there really can be something to the idea that those memories are coming up because you were hurt then in a way that you didn't have the capacity or understanding to fully process.  I also really like the way shargrol put it in this post:
Ultimately, meditation will point out our very very very basic sense of "woundedness and lack" and shine a big spotlight on it. It will never heal that wound or fill that lack, but rather point out how we were confused in the first place about being wounded and lacking. It's a very strange process to describe, but by going deep into how we relate to the world as self and object, interior and exterior, we eventually see that there is a very basic coping mechanism of trying to put the world "over there" so it can't really hurt us, and me "over here" so I'm in control. The end result is the boundaries become much more porous and flip-floppy and there is a greater clarity and intimacy with what is experienced. It is a bit like waking up from a dream, waking up to the obvious.

So in the end, a lot of the path is about developing an ability to directly experience difficult experiences, to experience them as a composite of physical sensations, mental qualities, images, and sounds, and to do this while maintaining a sense of ease/comfort/compassion, or at least keeping a scope of attention that includes plenty of neutral/positive sensations so that we're not hyperfocused on just painful sensations.  

Since the mental qualities coming up with these memories can have a certain sense of being locked in a role or locked in place or that the world will treat us in a certain way, sometimes directly contradicting that through our actions can itself be enough to help break up that sense of limitation that's associated with the memories.  So sometimes actually buying and eating and fully enjoying the fries will help, or stuff like standing up for yourself in a way that you couldn't, or receiving kindness from someone you didn't think would provide it.

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
3/3/19 8:54 AM as a reply to JP.
JP:
I've also had a number of childhood memories come up, and recently they've been gently appearing many times a day.  It's not always the case, but I think there really can be something to the idea that those memories are coming up because you were hurt then in a way that you didn't have the capacity or understanding to fully process.  I also really like the way shargrol put it in this post:
Ultimately, meditation will point out our very very very basic sense of "woundedness and lack" and shine a big spotlight on it. It will never heal that wound or fill that lack, but rather point out how we were confused in the first place about being wounded and lacking. It's a very strange process to describe, but by going deep into how we relate to the world as self and object, interior and exterior, we eventually see that there is a very basic coping mechanism of trying to put the world "over there" so it can't really hurt us, and me "over here" so I'm in control. The end result is the boundaries become much more porous and flip-floppy and there is a greater clarity and intimacy with what is experienced. It is a bit like waking up from a dream, waking up to the obvious.




Thanks for the reply! While your reply is in plain English but I can see that this is another level or understanding of the experience (including the quote of shargrol), and I really appreciate it.

If the past wound cannot be healed, what can we actually do? I have a few others that bother me too actually, and it wasn't feeling good.

JP:
So in the end, a lot of the path is about developing an ability to directly experience difficult experiences, to experience them as a composite of physical sensations, mental qualities, images, and sounds, and to do this while maintaining a sense of ease/comfort/compassion, or at least keeping a scope of attention that includes plenty of neutral/positive sensations so that we're not hyperfocused on just painful sensations.


This is a bit hard to digest for me. If I understand correctly, meditation will eventually help us to cope with difficult situation wisely, without being affected by it in different ways?
If the "self" means our inner self, and "object" means the world, so the end result is to be able to in control of ourselves and not affected by the world situations?

And now I suddenly realize that I probably want to recall why I feel how I felt in the past, and hopefully this will help me to deal with difficult situations in the future.

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
3/5/19 4:36 PM as a reply to chonghe.
Okay so now I really want chips and will have to go and get chips....   

that a side....  perhaps you are integrating some memories.....   remembering the joy of chips...  YOUR joy of chips!  

Now for chips ;) anything that comes up from the past is a gift to your future whatever it is and especially if it is chips...


Bye! - mayo and chips even better ;) 

RE: Present experience brought back childhood experience
Answer
3/8/19 2:46 PM as a reply to chonghe.
If the past wound cannot be healed, what can we actually do? I have a few others that bother me too actually, and it wasn't feeling good.

I'm going to be guessing a bit here, since I'm not as far along the path as shargrol.  But I think the promise of meditation is that doing enough of it will help change the perspective of our experience in a way that reframes our experience of lacking. Part of it comes back to the nature of suffering and how that applies to our sense of woundedness/lacking.  Take the example of the bag of chips:

Before we first began meditating, we assumed that there was a solid and permanent "I" in the center of our head that's looking around the world.  We saw the chips "out there" as an object in the world and ourselves as a subject that could go and get them and permanently gain them.

When you start meditating, you start seeing all the actual sensations invovled -- the tastes of the chips, the image of the chips, the physical feelings that make up wanting, the mental qualities that imply that you need to get them and things will be good if you do, etc.   And eventually you see that you can't make the sensation of the chips "out there" ever match up with the sense of self "in here".  They'll always occur at different times, and your sense of self can't fuse with the actual bag of chips. And there's really something basic messed up and impossible at the core of how we're experiencing this situation.  Not so much messed up in a conventional way, but more just like there's something existentially wrong with the world and always has been.

But eventually, after the mind watches all this happening long enough, it'll let go of the pushy need to try to make the sensations do something they can't, and our experience will shift to being just the sensations without the need or ability to make things happen.  And this will be a more comfortable and enjoyable way of experiencing that facet of life.

In short, feel free to substitute your favorite explanation for how meditation creates inner peace.