Memory Recall

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
Post Reply
User avatar
silentsongful
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 7:37 am

Memory Recall

Post by silentsongful »

Hi,

I want to relate something that is occuring to me recently and see if any other meditators have experienced it.

My background: I'm doing between 20 and 35 minutes zazen meditation most days for the past year at least, focusing on the breath.

The thing I want to check on occurs "off the cushion" never during meditation.

I get sudden unbidden recalls of memories. This is quite different from it being within a stream of thoughts. They just pop up when I'm not thinking much in particular. They are usually detailed and things that I haven't thought of at all for absolutely years. As an example, the last one was a vivid recall of all my childhood cuddly toys ha ha, including their feel in my hands and smell , for example one had a small hole in the stitching which if you put your finger in you could feel the soft stuffing.
I noticed the memories are neutral to pleasant , never traumatic.

As I say, experentially they feel a different mental process occuring than normal memory recall due to their randomness and suddenness.

Has anybody else experienced this, or something related ?

Thank you for any input.
SteRo
Posts: 648
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:29 pm

Re: Memory Recall

Post by SteRo »

Due to mental relaxation and/or familiarization with non-conceptual states it may happen that instances of past experiences can pop up spontaneously. Just leave them as they are, fading away and don't self-identify.
User avatar
silentsongful
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 7:37 am

Re: Memory Recall

Post by silentsongful »

Thank you for this SteRo,

Yes the nature of them has been very 'un-sticky' and easy to leave behind.
Varis
Posts: 338
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:09 am

Re: Memory Recall

Post by Varis »

Ask your teacher.
Theravadins have practices to purposefully bring up memories of past lives. Not exactly relevant though if you're practicing Zazen.
I have had random memories during meditation, but as SteRo advises, I ignored them and continued with my practice.
javier.espinoza.t
Posts: 2008
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:29 am

Re: Memory Recall

Post by javier.espinoza.t »

silentsongful wrote: Thu May 28, 2020 2:01 am Hi,

I want to relate something that is occuring to me recently and see if any other meditators have experienced it.

My background: I'm doing between 20 and 35 minutes zazen meditation most days for the past year at least, focusing on the breath.

The thing I want to check on occurs "off the cushion" never during meditation.

I get sudden unbidden recalls of memories. This is quite different from it being within a stream of thoughts. They just pop up when I'm not thinking much in particular. They are usually detailed and things that I haven't thought of at all for absolutely years. As an example, the last one was a vivid recall of all my childhood cuddly toys ha ha, including their feel in my hands and smell , for example one had a small hole in the stitching which if you put your finger in you could feel the soft stuffing.
I noticed the memories are neutral to pleasant , never traumatic.

As I say, experentially they feel a different mental process occuring than normal memory recall due to their randomness and suddenness.

Has anybody else experienced this, or something related ?

Thank you for any input.
it's something natural. many meditators i know accounted different experiences related to their own qualities, particulary when they don't cling to them :)
User avatar
silentsongful
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 27, 2020 7:37 am

Re: Memory Recall

Post by silentsongful »

Thank you Varis and Javier,

Yes , will keep just doing what I'm doing.
FLMan
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:20 am

Re: Memory Recall

Post by FLMan »

I practice mindfulness and I've had a similar experience. Somewhat similar to yours, my recall (for lack of a better term) was of when I was a kid eating lunch with my family while on vacation. Nice memory, I haven't thought of that in ~20 years.

I think in my case it was a result of extreme stress relief. When I turned 16 I developed some nasty, debilitating health issues. This resulted in a kind of distortion of reality because life hasn't been the same since then. With health issues you have to live by different rules than everyone else so to speak, which is stressful. It's a rude paradigm shift for sure.

During my meditation I was able to 'drop' all the nonsense floating around in my head and shift back into reality. I suppose 'liberating' is the best term as to how I felt. I hadn't felt that way since I was a kid...eating lunch with my family, healthy and happy.

That's just my 2 cents though, I have no teacher or anything I am just doing my best to teach myself as I go along.
User avatar
Kim O'Hara
Former staff member
Posts: 4576
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:09 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Memory Recall

Post by Kim O'Hara »

SteRo wrote: Thu May 28, 2020 4:18 am Due to mental relaxation and/or familiarization with non-conceptual states it may happen that instances of past experiences can pop up spontaneously. Just leave them as they are, fading away and don't self-identify.
It can happen during meditation, too, and the advice is the same: just observe it, then return to the breath or whatever you are focused on.
It's more troubling when the erupting memories are somewhat stressful or traumatic in themselves. That's not uncommon and I've even known it to stop beginners from continuing with meditation because they just couldn't deal with their repressed memories.
But the advice is still the same: observe it but don't get caught up in it, just go back to the breath. That strategy is enough to let the stress be released gradually and controllably, and once it's gone, it's gone.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Tao
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:05 am
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Contact:

Re: Memory Recall

Post by Tao »

The weird thing will start when you recall memories of that kind and in that situation, but are not yours.

But it doesnt happen often... :)
Post Reply

Return to “Meditation”