How much time would you say you spend thinking, going over things that have happened, old conversations and situations, or ‘what if-ing’ about future events or circumstances: “What if this happens?” or “What if that doesn’t happens?” “What if she says this, or if he says that?” ”What if I can’t cope? What if I can’t do it? What if I get it wrong? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not good enough?” Sound familiar?
As a culture, we have a tendency to focus our energy and attention in our head, to think about everything, to analyse, scrutinize and base decisions on what we think, not on what we feel or know deep down. The result is that we often assume that everything that happens in our head is true, or that we ARE what we think; we ARE the activity of the brain. For example, if the little voice in your head tells you that you are worthless or useless, you believe it because you think that little voice is YOU.
Thinking often involves access to memories to recall and go over events from the past. However, contrary to popular belief, the brain does not act as a filing cabinet or computer where a memory is stored in tact and filed away to be retrieved when needed. Emotion affects everything, and this includes our memory storage and retrieval. The thinking that takes place in your head is affected by your emotion and therefore not objective. So we can conclude that is it is NOT true and is NOT you, it is merely a representation of your current emotional state.
In order to recall a memory we have to recreate the neural pathways within the brain. Memories are not simply stored, they have to be recreated each time. Mainstream science has yet to find a location for memory within the brain, only areas that are involved in memory formation and retrieval. The biologist Rupert Sheldrake has suggested that the brain works more like a receiver or antennae and that memories exist as vibrational potentials in quantum or morphic fields outside the brain.
So there is no memory bank that exists to deliver perfect, in tact objective memories. Like thoughts, our memories exist as vibrational potentials that we create and recreate, and the nature of their creation is dependent upon our vibration, our feeling state.
The more we revisit and recreate a memory the stronger the emotional charge and the more biased and distorted it becomes. This is extremely important when looking at the nature of states and conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression, amongst other things. There is a strong tendency to go back and ruminate over past events with the assumption that the mental representation is true and real. However, as we can see that is not the case. The memory fields are continually recreated and each time they are modified depending on the emotional charge that drives the thinking.
Could you allow yourself to think of your brain as a tool you use, a bit like your computer, rather than the totality of who you are? The same can be true of feelings; it can be easy to attach your identity to your feelings and assume they mean something about you and who you are; or even that you ARE those feelings. These could be feelings in your body, such as tension, or sensations in your mind like misty bleakness. While they form part of you they are not the totality of you, they are an experience you are having. You are not the experience, you are having and observing the experience.