Memory is a wonderful thing! It teaches us how to talk, how to walk, to eat and how to love. Without memory we would have to relearn each day how to walk, how to speak, and how to build a field of love for those closest to us. Without memory we could not hold onto our hurts and grievances of the past because each day is fresh, new and different than the day before.
However, without memory, we could not fulfill the destiny of our work on earth, or hold down a job, or even function in activities of daily life. Without memory, we forget the faces of our loved ones and create pain in those whose lives we have been so much a part of including those to whom we have given life…our children. Without memory we abandon them and others, leaving this world while still in body. We abandon ourselves as well as those still within our life.
There is another aspect of memory however that is upheld in the world of Yoga. That is the memory sometimes called supernormal. This is the memory of that which has never been forgotten. That is the memory that propels our great search for “truth” that seems beyond ourselves. It is the memory that is awakened by wise men of all cultures who speak words that heal our heart of the pains of the past and remind us of something, someplace beyond this world as we know it.
This is the memory that manifests as an elusive feeling, an experience buried in our psyche, that fuels our endless search for that which we think is outside ourselves. It is the memory of the rapture or bliss we once knew when we were one with the Source of all Creation. It is the memory of total and blissful peace and the rapture of that blessed connection where all is well…and all is. It is the memory of discovery of that which we have sought for so long in the world around us to discover we have never lost it like the glasses on our nose that we think are lost as we search far and wide for them. This is the memory that has been there all along waiting for us to discover it. It is the memory of that which we have never forgotten.
This is the supernormal memory of the unified field of consciousness of knowing, where unexcelled joy comes in the remembrance that we have never been disconnected from our Source. Yes, we search and hunger for this remembrance in all the workshops and classes we take, only to have them lead back to the source within ourselves. Oh… how long it takes for some while others are born with varying degrees of this remembrance, like the great saints, sages, prophets and wise men. They come into this world to awaken the memory that is already within and to remind those who have totally forgotten.
Just as we are all in different stages of forgetfulness we are also in different stages of remembrance. Like the petals of the lotus that open and unfold with the rising of the sun, as that light penetrates the darkness of our own being, the petals of our heart begin to open to that light.
Memory in Sanskrit is known as smriti, from the root verb sma which means to remember. It is the 5th non-painful mind wave that is the chamber where all memories go. They exist on varying layers from the preconscious to subconscious realms of mind. The impressions that come into the mind through the five senses are known as manas, the conscious mind. Man is the Sanskrit root verb that means to think. Its function is to take in knowledge and experiences of the world through the senses. This forms impressions that are deposited in varying layers of the subconscious mind according to the intensity of that impression. As the Yogis say, “Every conscious experience becomes a subconscious impression.”
Some impressions are like a feather floating on water. They are on the surface of the mind. While others go a little deeper, like a leaf or a piece of bark that lingers toward the surface until slowly absorbing more water until sinking, they sink slowly into the deeper layers of our psyche. Some impressions are like a line drawn in sand that is washed away when the tide comes in. Other impressions are described in Yoga scriptures as so intense that when experienced, they are embedded so deeply, like grooves chiseled in stone. These deeper and more entrenched impressions are known as vasanas. These deeply engraved grooves become a residue of feelings, where one or more experiences are not separate memories, but become a conglomerate that produces a sensation of feeling.
According to science, these grooves are known today as gyros. The more we repeat our stories, the grooves are impressed into deeper tissues of our brain. They are like an old-time record or disk where one groove is worn more deeply than others. It repetitively repeats over and over again. If we have had an altercation with someone and continue to repeat our version of the story, the groove can go so deep that it would be difficult to come to a place of forgiveness. The mind cannot rest until it does.
We are fortunate to have Yoga and other methodologies so available to us today to help us bring these impressions, deep or shallow up to the surface of the conscious mind where they can no longer pull us back into the old furrows. Through these techniques, it is possible to fill in the gyros and lift above experiences that have imprisoned our mind in the grooves of the past.
According to the Yoga scriptures of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, it is the vasanas that can be lodged so deeply in the tissues of our psyche that they can be held in memory for more than one lifetime. They are the reason our soul continues to return to this planet life after life and cannot move on to explore other inter-dimensional realities.
The practices of Yoga, asana, pranayama and concentration/meditation are designed to reach into our cellular structure where memories are stored in varying layers of our psyche. These practices are meant to bring the impressions (samskaras and vasanas) to the surface of mind where they can be seen, healed and transformed. As these mental obstructions are cleared, there is a release of long-held impressions that keep us from remembering. For it is in the subtler aspects of our soul where we store the greatest memory of all…that we are not nor ever have been, separated from our Divine Source.
“Every conscious experience becomes
a subconscious impression”