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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Overcoming Bad Memories

Bad memories due to physical abuse, sexual abuse, combat, bullying, death of a loved one, and so on can immediately "pop" to the surface at any time. The flash back or "pop-up" is either due to something outside or inside the body provoking a thought which in turn causes an emotional reaction.

Just about anything can provoke a bad memory. It might be the sound of a door slamming, the sound of a firecracker, the sun coming up, the sun going down, an itch, a pain. Whatever the cause, a thought appears and then usually an emotional reaction. The person is so caught up in the thought he or she becomes the thought. The trick is to recognize the thought. If you can recognize the thought you immediately become the observer. If you are the observer, you cannot be the thought. But it's not easy recognizing a thought when it  abruptly appears out of the clear blue sky. When a traumatic thought appears it very easy to become identified with it and believe it is who you are.

Learning to become the observer of thoughts can be a lifesaver for many sufferers of unhealthy flashbacks. The first step is to be able to calm the mind. Without a calm mind it's virtually impossible to go any further in the healing process. One of the best ways to calm an overactive mind is with the breath. Simply focus on the breath going in and out of your nose. Feel the air going in and out and how it feels at the very tip of your nose. Focus all of your attention and awareness on the feeling and the breath. Your mind will eventually slow down and the erratic thoughts will subside. This, in it self, takes practice. Patience is also a must. There are many techniques for calming the mind, but focusing on the breath is one of the best.

With a calm mind you can then begin your adventure of thought watching. You need to understand that images and words that come and go in the mind are nothing more than condensed energy. By observing and experiencing the thoughts they will dissolve and become meaningless. When a thought appears close your eyes, focus on the breath and then open your eyes and look at the thought in front of you. Watch it thin out into nothingness. For example; an event happens, a thought appears, you close your eyes, focus on your breathing, open your eyes, look at the thought, and watch the thought become thinner and thinner. It dissolves and you go about doing what you were doing.

When you observe a thought, you, the experiencer, and the experience are separate rather than being the experience. If you become one with the thought the condensed energy of the thought will become a story and will act as though it has a life of its own, dragging you along with it. In order for you to let go of the unpleasant experience you must realize you are holding onto the memory automatically. You must "see" the memory - the thought without judgment and without any evaluation. "Catch" the thought as soon as it appears, close your eyes, calm the mind, and observe it. Watch it disappear into a void. You are beyond the thought and the bad emotion it can cause. You are beyond the conflict as you watch it thin out and become nothing.

Life is too precious to be wasted on troublesome thoughts. Remember; calm the mind, focus, observe the thought from a distance and watch it waste away into thin air.

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