By George A. Boyd © 2016
The recent research in the study of memory at the neurological level reports that there is an actual transformation of the cells, and as these cellular changes persist, these memory traces remain. They also have discovered that there are different types of memory—such as visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, and emotional—that are stored in different locations in the brain, and are tied together to create the composite of memory.
This memory composite appears to be different each time it is recalled: different aspects of the remembrance are called forward, so what we remember each time is different than the imprint of the original incident. It has also been shown that with the skillful, intentional suggestion of an interviewer or interrogator that a subject remember something that they didn’t do, or having a subject do exercises that utilize visualization and imagination while they are relaxed, these memory traces can be changed, and false memories implanted.
The emotionalized component of memory—which is implicated in causing the affective dysphoria in phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders—can be separated from the other components.
One novel method used to treat arachnophobia involves exposing a patient to the phobic stimulus, and then giving him or her a small dose of propanolol, which blocks the action of norepinephine. This appears to strip out the emotional component that either freezes someone or makes him or her want to run away in terror—and the patient can then approach the spider without any terror, and can touch it.
It was further suggested that as psychologists learn more about this actual working of memory, they would be able to apply these insights to actually cure phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. This application has been portrayed in movies such as “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Inception.”
The new concept of memory has changed with these new discoveries. It is no longer viewed like a collection of books in a library, but rather it is like a dynamic hard drive in a computer, where data can be recalled or modified as new input comes into the mind.
Meditation and Memory
Meditation builds upon these discoveries about memory that neurologists and psychologists have made. Meditation sees that memory can be utilized and transformed in ten ways:
- Memory retention and recall – this aspect of memory is the foundation of learning and experience, and is embedded in the neurological substrate of memory.
- Imagination – this creatively combines the components of memory composites in new ways, to come up with novel constructions.
- Praxis –this uses remembered motor skills to carry out a behavior, or remembered data to solve a problem or communicate an idea. This is the skillful application of memory.
- Life recall – this is the autobiographical aspect of memory that appears to be layered in six temporal zones—that which is being recalled in the moment, the life narrative back to the first conscious memory, the memory traces arising the zone before the first conscious memory to birth, the organismic memory of embryonic experience going back to conception, and the experience of eternity, where the Soul views the entire life as a detached observer. This is the aspect of memory that is encountered in the first layer of the Subconscious mind.
- Intuitive memory – This is the categorical summarization and application of experience that takes place in the chakras of the Subconscious mind, which enables you to synthesize your associations to create correspondences, analogies, and metaphors, and to group similar associations together. For example, in one of the petals of the second chakra, your diverse and varied associations related to courtship are brought together in one place. This is the aspect of memory that is encountered in the second layer of the Subconscious mind.
- Applied etheric memory – This aspect of memory utilizes the dynamic, computer-like functioning of the etheric body of the Metaconscious mind, which has access to the knowledge and experience stored in each band of the mind up to this level. This interface between the Subconscious mind and the executive functions of the Metaconscious mind—commitment, persona, conscience, concrete mind, intellect, personal intuition, and volition—enables you to dynamically draw upon your skills and knowledge to carry out the activities of daily life and work.
- Stored etheric memory (Akashic Records) – This aspect of memory is found on the fifth Subplane of the Abstract Mind Plane, and it records each moment of life in multiple dimensions—sensory, emotional, cognitive impressions are all recorded here. Process meditation can tap this level. This zone is the level at which you can access remembrance of past lives. This level records the lives of this Cycle of Time; at higher levels of the Continuum, there are bands that retain the experiences of even more ancient Cycles of Time.
- Karmic memory (Samskara) – In the causal body of the Soul—and layered on the inner helix that makes up the unconscious mind—the impressions of karma are stored. These desire-laden impressions that underlie motivation and craving influence thought, emotions, and behavior. Transformational meditation transmutes and integrates the positive impressions, and dissolves the evil impressions that are stored in this zone of the mind.
- Illumined memory (Buddhi) – This is the eternal knowledge that the Soul retains throughout eternity. As the Soul ascends of the spiral of spiritual evolution, it expands this sphere of illumined knowledge. This zone of the mind has been called mandalic reasoning, spiritual discernment, and viveka.
- Gnosis and Path Knowledge (Bodhi) – This is the Soul’s remembrance of its eternal essence and the path ahead to Liberation. Accessing this level of consciousness confers enlightenment.
Those who meditate access the deeper aspects of memory that are contained in the inner vehicles of consciousness. Types 1 to 3 operate in the Conscious mind. Types 4 and 5 come from the Subconscious mind. Type 6 functions in the Metaconscious mind. Types 7 through 10 arise from the Superconscious mind.
If we do not alter our awareness from the waking state of awareness, it appears that all aspects of memory, behavior, affect, and cognition are products of the operation of the brain and nervous system. Those that move their attention on the thread of consciousness behold the working of these inner vehicles and the subtler aspects of memory, conation, emotion, and thought that operate within them.
Those who meditate will be enriched to learn of the neurological substrates of memory and the other functions of consciousness shown to us in the patient and methodical research of the scientists. We encourage them to begin with these foundations, and explore the vehicles of consciousness to extend these understandings into the core of being.
Those who wish to explore the Conscious, Subconscious, and Metaconscious mind can do so in greater depth in our beginning meditation course, Introduction to Meditation. Those who wish to extend their journey of inner discovery into the Superconscious mind will benefit from taking one of our intermediate courses, the in person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation or the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.