Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fingerprints of the Mind, Heart

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. ~ Michel de Montaigne
Perhaps it's this time of year. It tends to breathe nostalgia for me. But I've been trying to formulate the concept of triggered memories ... the fingerprints those have left on our minds and hearts.

I wrote awhile back about the power of scent. How a smell can instantly take you back to a period in your life or a particularly intense moment, perhaps a childhood experience. As part of this "present moment awareness" practice, one of the things you do is observe your mind in a non judgmental way. Not an easy task for me.

In the self monitoring process, I am also paying attention to how intensely my mind and heart will connect when a memory is triggered. It's both fascinating and scary how powerful that line of connection is at times. It brings new respect for the mind, but also brings more perspective to gaining control of it, tempering its stressful impacts.

Because I have had moments in the past where a song came on or a scent assailed me and I nearly buckled in place by the intensity of the memory it triggered. The upside is when the memory is something positive (in the present) and it spreads through you like a warm, tickling mist. But tonight, I'm referring to the downside, when I'm feeling perfectly fine and something hits and suddenly, my heart is overcome with a deep, throbbing ache that seems to trickle through my veins.

My immediate reaction is to pretend it doesn't hurt or try to distract myself. After all, I know a lot of people who have said to me they're totally over things or triggers ... whether their eyes tell me something different or they seem genuine, I can only speak for myself here.

I used to be obsessed with "reclaiming" things, songs that trigger a memory of someone, locations, movies, authors, even food. In trying to "get over" a person or relationship, I thought, "Well, if I could just reclaim this and that and that, I'll eventually be over it all."

And while I've been removed from a couple deep seated relationships, one in particular, for awhile now ... yeah, that just isn't the case.

I'm realizing more and more that if I try to force such things, my mind and heart hold onto them even longer.

Sometimes, I used to even convince myself the more I do things (like listen to a song instead of shutting it off, even singing along, smiling, or watching a movie that hits a tender nerve, etc.) the easier it'll get. And it does get easier. I do find I reclaim bits and pieces of those things ... but the truth is, there are some people, experiences, moments that have left their fingerprints, not only on my mind, but my heart as well. And those just never quite go away.

The ones in my mind, trigger an image. The ones in my heart, trigger a feeling that powers through me as though I'm reliving that moment all over again.

I used to believe that made me weak, pathetic to admit that no matter how many times I hear a song or see a movie, I will always think of him or that one time or that feeling. But now, when it happens, I detach a bit from my mind and observe where it went and why, trying not to judge it, as though watching it as a neutral third party. I see now how a lot of those things my mind associates with my "identity." I'm that girl or I used to be or feel that way. Sure, I was that girl or I did feel that way, but those are all surface things.

And the recognition of that is freeing in many ways.

Memories don't make up who I am inside, what my essence is anymore than my fears and anxieties do. But I'm finding they do add color if they're honored. I've been so determined to rub those fingerprints out for so long, I've never just enjoyed the view through them. I've never just let them be, let the emotions they ignite run through me without resistance.

But the last few times I have, I've noticed a definite difference. In watching my mind, it stops feeding me the images ... and in feeling the emotions, they run right through me and out. So as the holidays approach ... and as winter dawns, perhaps we could all benefit from just "being."

After all, fingerprints are traces. Traces are evidence of movement.

And movement ... is life.


1 comment:

  1. What a powerful closing!! What an amazing Monday morning read. I also completely agree how scent can transport you back in time unlike anything else on earth.