As I was reading the Yogasutra I came across this lovely shloka which is defining memories as – ” अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोष: स्मृति “
Definition of memory
Not allowing an object which has been experienced to escape is called Memory.
Memories are our inability to let go of past experience.
Yoga for Memory Liberation
The practice of Yoga has a single aim – ” योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध: “
In essence, it means freeing the self from the clutches of the mind. Yoga understands that the mind is highly volatile and needs to be tamed constantly or else it rules the self.
Out of the five chitta vruti that need to be controlled/ get rid of “smriti” / memories is something that is very confusing to understand not to mention application too.
Don’t we all want a good memory ?
Don’t we all want our kids to have a great memory ?
There are stories in mythology lauding individuals who could remember events or details from their past life.
So why in yoga is “remembering” considered to be a flaw of the mind that needs to be controlled ?
Our mind is servant and should be available at our beck and call, that is the first and foremost fact that needs to be learnt.
Memories are like a Database. They should be intact, uncorrupted and ready to access when needed. Memories help in restructuring our perceptions. The Memories we make re-programme our view of the world. Based on this programming and reprogramming our actions and behaviour changes.
A mind that is not Saatvika but under the influence of Raja and Tama is like a treacherous servant. It refuses to listen to the voice of reasoning. It is not obedient to commands. The Raja and Tama are like a virus affecting the software of our brain. Just like we need to constantly clean our software, so also the mind needs to be constantly cleaned. Satva is like the antivirus software that we install in our minds.
A Saatvik mind will access and retrieve the right memory files in our system. However a mind that is under the influence of Raja and Tama will access only those files stored under the headings of “Kaama, Dwesha, Krodha, Dukha, Irshya, Bhaya, Lobha” these memory files are replayed again and again without the consent or approval of the master, ie. Us. This replaying of files that are not needed is considered as Smriti in this context and this needs to be controlled.
So how do we do that ?
When a file is not opened for long, it is automatically pushed at the back and after a while is sent to the “cloud”. A file sent to the “cloud” is retreivable only on specific commands. The files on “cloud” do not resurface on our daily scrolls. They are never lost. But they do not clutter our system either.
This is exactly how Yoga helps us. With regular practice the Satva is high and prevents Raja and Tama from playing the memories that are not liberating. When a thought is not accessed for a while it diminishes. Over a period of time the memories fade out.
Only when we are free from the clutches of old memories can we make new ones. Yoga helps us clean the ‘bin’
So the answer to the questions —
So ….Do we need good memory?
We all need a good, uncorrupted, intact memory. Ayurveda has an ocean of herbs, foods and lifestyle practices aimed at improving memory.
Improving memory is all about –
1. Having a good ‘hardware’ – providing nourishment to the cells, the brain, improving the circulation and uptake of nutrients..
2. Improving the ‘software’ – nourishing the Satva and reducing the Raja and Tama.
However the same question can be asked in a different way.
Do we need to be free of our memories ?
We cannot let the Raja and Tama rewind and replay the same corrosive memory files.
So I guess the answer is ambiguous – yes we need memory and no we don’t 😉!
Our shastrakaras and scholars were witty even in their scriptural writings!! 😄😄