Memory is that faculty of the conscious mind which can recall any past conscious human experience. In order to perform important duties, you must be able to work with material recalled by the power of memory. Memory saves you from having to repeat experiences over and over each day.
It is through memory that you retain the consciousness of your individual existence. For instance, a minister who lived near Boston, Massachusetts lost his memory for a while. Thinking he was a grocer, he changed his name and opened a grocery shop far from his home town. After three months, his memory came back and he returned home as a minister.
The superconscious mind remembers everything
The subconscious mind is the memory mind and is always awake, memorizing conscious experiences during the state of wakefulness and keeping the body functioning during sleep. While the conscious mind keeps in touch with the exterior world through the senses, the subconscious mind keeps a record of all human experiences. However, just as the conscious mind becomes forgetful without training or creative thinking, so also does the subconscious mind, without training, lose its power of recall.
The superconsciousness is the pure intuitive, all-seeing, ever-new blissful consciousness of the soul. Through meditation and intuition, the superconsciousness can remember all experiences forgotten by the subconscious and conscious minds. Jesus, who was developed in superconsciousness, could remember his past incarnation with John the Baptist when John was Elijah. The less attached you are to the body, and especially during deep meditation, the more clearly you will remember your past lives.
Recall only good and noble experiences
Memory imitates. It does not discriminate. It takes in anything you present to it. Every experience creates a mental record in your mind produced by the needle of attention or deep feeling. In your consciousness there are all kinds of records, both good and bad. You must destroy all records that revive memories of unhappiness and evil deeds. By remembering an experience you live it over again. Thus, it is sometimes important to cultivate forgetfulness.
Use memory only to recall good and noble experiences, which will come to you as angels of inspiration and protection. To use memory to recall evil experiences is to fill your mental temple with torturing mental demons. What is past belongs to your dead ignorant self and does not truly belong to you. The good things you have done, and their effects on the past and present, are your richest treasures.
Thus, see no evil, hear no evil, and think no evil, so that you do not desecrate your mental temple. By recalling only good things, you will find yourself surrounded by angelic thoughts, and you will begin to recall all the forgotten goodness hidden in your subconscious and superconscious minds. Eventually you will recall your pure Self, the image of God within you, long screened off behind your mortal forgetfulness. When the mansion of your soul contains no evil, then the essence of all goodness, God, will visit you within.
Loss of memory through obstruction of desires
Any spiritual aspirant with a tendency toward anger should understand how anger originates and can lead to loss of memory, often with grave results.
Take, for example, the average man who is not free from anger. If he is driving a car joyfully from Los Angeles to Santa Monica for a picnic, but is unexpectedly and forcefully asked by his wife to stop at her relatives’ house against his will, he may suddenly become blinded by wrath. His violent rage, caused by the obstruction of his desire to go straight to the picnic grounds, may lead to a word battle with his wife and enclose him in delusion. Delusion would lead to loss of memory of where he was going, which could easily affect his discriminative faculty and ability to drive safely, with the result that he might collide with another car or veer into a roadside ditch.
The foregoing illustration explains how obstruction of desires can cause blinding confusion in an otherwise normal individual. This delusive fog clouds an individual’s memory of himself and his position in society, undermining his discrimination, the motivating force of all right action.
The wrong use of memory: the memory of sense pleasures
Another warning to the devotee: As soon as you try to meditate and apply your powers of self-control and discrimination, delusion will try to arouse the memory of your bad habits of sense pleasures to give battle to your forces of discrimination. While trying to experience the joy of meditation, the devotee suddenly finds himself tempted by memories of sense pleasures, often leading to restlessness.
Whenever you feel sympathy for your forsaken sense pleasures, picture your pleasure-loving body being dumped into the grave or cast into the crematory flames, as it most certainly will be, and make a stronger effort to contact God through deep meditation. Once you have contacted the soul in deep meditation, you can never forget the joy of it, even though you may come down from that state for a while.
How to strengthen the power of your memory
Deep attention is a strong force in developing memory. Attention is the needle that cuts the grooves in the record of memory cells. That is why you remember your deep joys and deep sorrows. One way to develop your memory is to pay strict attention to whatever you want to remember. Perform every action, insignificant or important, with quick, alert attention. Try to link one idea with another. Everything has some point of contact with, or similarity to, everything else in the universe.
Be regular in all your activities. Every night try to remember in detail all that happened during the past week. Do the same at the end of each month and year. If time permits, try to remember all the principal events of the month or year in connection with yourself, your city, your country, and the world. In recalling these events, always focus on the good things that have happened.
Just before going to sleep and upon awakening, command your subconscious mind to be attentive to all life’s activities and to retain all good and valuable experiences. These two periods are the best for impressing affirmations on the mind. Every day try to memorize a devotional poem and to reproduce it in writing after one or two weeks. You will discover that devotional feeling strengthens the power of your memory.
Nourishing and strengthening the memory cells
Pay attention to your diet. A glass of almond milk or any nut milk is helpful to the memory. Simply grind two tablespoons of nuts thoroughly and mix them with orange juice or water. Milk and cheese are also good for the brain and memory cells.
Avoid eating meat, especially beef or pork, which are harmful to the memory, and also avoid stimulants such as coffee or tea. All strong stimulants deteriorate the intelligence of the brain’s memory cells. Constantly anesthetized memory cells lose their retentive power and become inert and lazy. To stimulate the memory cells, every night and morning rub your scalp firmly with the tips of your fingers. Then, with the knuckles of the fingers of both hands, gently strike all areas of the skull and forehead for two minutes.
The art of visualization is also important in developing memory. A good practice is to look steadily at a certain object, perhaps some scenery, or in a store window, then turn away quickly and see how many details you can enumerate. The deeper your initial impressions, the more details you will be able to remember. This is splendid practice for developing the ability to remember important details.
The greater the preservation of vital essence in the body, by sex discipline, and by normal use in married life, the greater will be the power of your memory, intelligence, and spiritual perception. Above all, never allow your soul’s reason to be overruled by your creative animal impulse.
Regular exercise is also important for strengthening and maintaining your memory, especially when you exercise with concentration. A focused mind draws energy and life force into the body from the surrounding cosmos, nourishing the brain and memory cells. Whenever you take a walk, practice the following breathing exercise twelve to twenty-four times with focused attention: inhale, counting one to twelve. Hold the breath twelve counts, then exhale while counting one to twelve.
Always remember good things
If you limit your memory, you limit your life. Memory is comprehensive and elastic, and can record many important things if you develop it. If you love good things and remember only good things, you will eventually remember God, the essence of all good things, and that you are, and always have been, one with Him.
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