Dealing With Painful Memories

Healing & Meditation

A new study proposes pill to erase painful memories

Do you have painful memories? Rather than dealing with them consciously and thus transforming the experience and being able to move on, researchers are coming up with a pill to erase them. As we have experienced throughout life, shortcuts are not the best way how to deal with difficult situations. The shortcut works for a while but is bound to come back to haunt us again.

In an article published in MSNBC, Linda Carroll suggests that although most would “probably choose not to lose parts of our past,” she thinks that “for those with post-traumatic stress disorder, such a pill might bring welcome relief.” I can just see for example thousands of war veterans lining up to get that pill to forget the horrendous experiences and actions during their war postings, the distress of which also caused a myriad of physical symptoms which are mostly not recognized by the authorities who sent them into war in the first place. But although that pill might erase the conscious memory, I doubt it will be able to heal the invisible scars.

All humans live through traumatic and painful physical and mental experiences of various degrees during their lives, and the first one is the disconnection from the mother’s womb after birth. Even though the pain may seem unbearable at the time, dealing with it consciously will influence the shape of one’s future.

Madhuri dragon detail

Marie-France Marin, a doctoral student at ‘The Center for Studies on Human Stress at the University of Montreal’ is the study’s lead author. She explained, “One of the most intriguing findings of the study is the fact that memories aren’t quite as indelible as we like to think. Each time we review them in our minds, there seems to be a chance for editing to occur.”

Osho has devised a simple meditative approach for repressed memories:

“If you are conscious, you can watch. Go back. Now your father is no more but for the eyes of the memory he is still there. Close your eyes; again be the child who has committed something, done something against the father, wants to be forgiven but cannot gather courage – now you can gather courage! You can say whatsoever you wanted to say, you can touch his feet again, or you can be angry and hit him – but be finished! Let the whole process be completed.

Remember one basic law: anything that is complete drops, because then there is no meaning in carrying it; anything that is incomplete clings, it waits for its completion.

And this existence is really always after completion. The whole existence has a basic tendency to complete everything. It does not like incomplete things –  they hang, they wait; and there is no hurry for existence – they can wait for millions of years.

Move backwards. Every night for one hour before you go to sleep, move into the past, relive. Many memories by and by will be unearthed. With many you will be surprised that you were not aware that these things are there – and with such vitality and freshness, as if they had just happened! You will be again a child, again a young man, a lover, many things will come. Move slowly, so everything is completed. Your mountain will become smaller and smaller – the load is the mountain. And the smaller it becomes, the freer you will feel. A certain quality of freedom will come to you, and a freshness, and inside you will feel you have touched a source of life.

You will be always vital – even others will feel that when you walk your step has changed, it has a quality of dance; when you touch, your touch has changed – it is not a dead hand, it has become alive again. Now life is flowing because the blocks have disappeared; now there is no anger in the hand, love can flow easily, unpoisoned, in its purity. You will become more sensitive, vulnerable, open.

If you have come to terms with the past suddenly you will be here and now in the present, because then there is no need to move again and again.”

Osho, And the Flowers Showered, Ch 4

It is alleged that the research conducted with the stress hormone, cortisol, might one day help people suffering from PTSD. Marin suspects that, in the right setting, the drug might help diminish the power of the traumatic event that kicked off the condition. The idea is that a patient would review the event with a psychotherapist after having taken the drug. But with Osho’s approach neither drugs nor psychologist are needed. Just the courage to go inside.

Text by Bhagawati for Osho News

Illustration (detail) by Madhuri

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