When I was a young child, I would occasionally wake up crying in the middle of the night from a bad dream. Fortunately, I had a wise, loving mother who would come and sit by my bed to comfort me. Her advice on such occasions was always the same: She didn’t ask about the scary dream, but would say, “Let’s think about some happy memories, like when our family went to the ocean. Remember how much fun we had?”
Invariably, I would start feeling better, the scary dream would fade from memory, and I would soon drift back to sleep. Though I don’t think that my mother was aware of it, she was sharing with me an important aspect of Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings: the right use of memory to change our consciousness.
He wrote: “Memory was given to us to keep alive only life’s good experiences and lessons. Get rid of wrong thoughts by avoiding recalling them. If they come to mind in spite of you, refuse to entertain them. Let me repeat: To remember bad experiences and dwell upon them is an abuse of God’s gift to us of memory.”
For the past two years, we all have faced many challenges in dealing with the global pandemic. The signs are starting to seem hopeful that we may be moving past the devastation of Covid into a new era free of the suffering and loss that we’ve seen. These painful experiences have left deep impressions for most people which have the potential to influence their life into the future.
Now is an important time to work consciously with our memories so that we don’t carry the suffering forward with us. Memory is the mental note made of every thought or action when it first occurs, which is stored in the brain as a thought pattern. The word “remember” comes from re, “again,” and memorari, “to be mindful of.”
Try consciously to bring to mind the good memories you’ve acquired during this period: the kindness of strangers, an inspiring story about the efforts of medical teams to help others, the times of deepened prayer and calling on God, the fulfillment found in simple pastimes, or loving conversations with friends, to name but a few.
Yoganandaji said, “Deep, alert attention with feeling is the needle that cuts grooves in the record of your memory cells.” This is true for both positive and negative memories. Since our memory is linked to past karma, by concentrating on good memories we can actually ameliorate and change negative karmic patterns.
Master went on to say, “One should not bring back any wrong thought and relive it, for then it will stay longer in the mind. Through the right use of memory, we can reproduce those experiences of our past lives that are beneficial for the increase of knowledge in this life.”
Avoiding negative people and media is also important in redirecting our memories toward good experiences. Destructive words and downward-pulling conversations have the power to keep us focused on bad memories. These will prolong the suffering long after an adverse experience is over.
So remember, choose to recall good memories: not only from the past two years, but from your whole life. This isn’t being in a state of denial, but rather choosing to be free of the experiences that have brought you suffering. A focus on positive past experiences leads to a happier future. As Master said, “If you keep your brain, your mind, your body filled with happy memories, the greatest good of all, God, will come and remain with you.”
In His love,
Listen to Devi as she reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:43):
Thank you so much for such an important message!
Blessed to have a very intelligent insightful Mother. My own Mother was bit the same.. May God bless every Mother.. 💓🌹🪔🙏
Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
Thank you for this very helpful and inspiring blog. A much-needed one during these times particularly.
Very helpful guidelines to practice right away
Dear Davy, yours is a great advice! Today let’s celebrate joy and love and peace and love.
Thank you for this deep lesson. It turns on the head the old idea that to analyze and go over and over a negative memory will help understand motivation etc etc. Thats never worked for me – only dug the “grooves” in a little deeper. To work on consciously turning a negative to a positive memory is so powerful.
Powerful message, dear Devi. Thank you!
Thank you for this important practical message for deep awareness of inner life. More realistic practical advice and leadership for the individual to take personal responsibility for their lives, choosing and hearing the voice of The Master within, and responding to present moment participation in actions, is what is the Reality of Peace, and given to us by Grace of the Almighty.
Dear Mother Devi💙 Thank you for all you taught me and teach me with your love and wisdom🎶💛I’m almost home 🐳
What a wonderful blessing you’ve had Devi to have the kind of mother you did. I love the way you describe how to work with memories, as indeed, it is a tricky thing!
As an individual who experienced many traumas early in life, I had learn how to replace negative memories with positive ones or even just let go of negative memories all together.
I also appreciate the way that Master describes the process. (I have had the experience of going into deep meditation and basically re-scripting my personal narrative, which is very healing.)
I would caution, however, that sometimes my tendency was to create a ‘spiritual bypass’ and ignore the fact that those haunting memories were indeed there. (Trauma can lead to addiction.) In my own case, as a much younger person, I had to get professional help to process traumatic memories before I could get to the good stuff.
In Divine Mother’s blessing,
Perfect words & a wonderful practice for a happy life, thank you!!!
Very helpful, thank you!
This is a profoundly important yet obscure teaching from Yogananda. I’ve read most of his works and have never come across this.
Far more than in Yogananda’s time is, in our time the surfacing of all the Kali Yuga “shadow material”, including the misuse of communication technology to deceive, confuse, and implant toxic ideas. Then follows the huge struggle between light and dark over this, and all the negative experiences this creates. What you presented in this article is an immensely important key for overcoming this. Thank you!
As always, a poignant and deeply personal reminiscence, with conclusions drawn that are so utterly relevant to each one of us.
I remember as a young girl coming out of a movie theatre and rewriting the sad ending in my mind, and fervently believing the new outcome to the point of elation! I found myself doing the same with unhappy dreams. And situations. It never felt dishonest, especially when feeling the opposite made me feel so low!
You have so beautifully elaborated the wisdom behind Master’s counsel.
Thank you, once again! 🙏💙🎉
The perfect words for me to read at this time.
Thank you Devi for bringing this topic up again as if I remember correctly you mentioned it last week during IRW. I tend to get in psychological grooves with bad memories and the last week or so have made the effort to notice it more and switch thoughts ASAP. This is definitely a process but grateful to have a community of gurubais who won’t say it’s not ‘practical’ or l’m not facing facts. Blessings:)
Thank you for this BEAUTIFUL reminder Devi. So important to choose where we put our minds. With focus and practice, we can choose to be happy! Jai Guru! 🙏
Thank you for the reminder to master memories.
Very timely, dear sister, advice I needed to hear.
Thank you again for a great writing that is much needed to keep
in mind always…to always remember,thanks also for sharing the
true and wise words of Master.
This I am saving for my spiritual notebook. This is a life-changer. Thank you so much.
Very important & powerful!
In deep gratitude for this uplifting – it rapidly moving me up many steps on the ONWARD & UPWARD
ladder closer to my goal. It has lifted a heavy load & expanded my thinking power.
It is an answer to pray to go into my answered prayer book.
Tredecillion of blessing of Grace & Peace to you for every star in all the UNIVERSES,