Meditation is about doing just that. We function as an automatic camera as we go through life. We record everything with our five senses and store it as ‘pictures’ in our brain. It becomes like a video tape, almost. Inside these pictures, our emotions are embedded. These emotions form our attachments to the past.
Let’s say I experienced something traumatic. I recorded that moment with my five senses, and stored it in my mind including the fear and pain I experienced. My mind will then replay these pictures including the fearful and painful emotions over and over again when similar situations arise.
The same thing could be valid with regard to positive experiences. My mind starts dreaming of a fluffy past, perhaps from my childhood or adolscence, when things were easier and less challenging. I become nostalgic and have difficulties accepting the conditions and challenges provided by being an adult in today’s world.
Through meditation, we look back on our life and let go of everything we have stored in our mind, both the negative and the positive. As we let it go, our attachments to past events disappear, but our memory remains. We clearly remember what we’ve been through in life, but since the attachments to these memories have disappeared we no longer ruminate on the past.
This means that we will not think of the past unless we consciously choose to do so. Consequently, you could say that we have ‘forgotten’ our past but still remember it. We live constantly in the now, but are still able to relate to past events when that is needed. That is quite a happy life.