Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Memory and Mindfulness

Lately, I have become acutely aware of the power of memory to inform the practice of mindfulness.

Sitting, there is the experience of the present moment, for sure. And also embedded in this moment, lies the memory of all the other times before when the same kind of thought, the same kind of feeling, the same kind of bodily sensation came and got noticed, and the connection was made between certain conditions and the arising of suffering. After enough of these repetitions, the mind becomes more clever at recognizing those antecedents to suffering, and not indulging them. It feels as if there needs to be enough of those earlier impressions in order for the mind to finally get it, and be swift in its response.

Mindfulness is not just attention to the present moment, but also remembrance of prior moments, with the two colliding with acquired wisdom to produce insight, disenchantment, and dispassion. Letting go of suffering becomes then a natural consequence. 

Getting in touch with the root meaning of 'mindfulness': 

"And what is the faculty of sati (mindfulness)? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering and able to call to mind even things that were done and  said long ago" - SN 48.10


  1. Its interesting to note that a memory is in fact a thought or mental formation in the present moment.When we realise this it helps us to deal with any painful memories from what we think of as the past.At least that is my experiance.

  2. Oh! Yes. Just like thoughts about 'I'. Mental creations that can be reshaped or abandoned. It is the stickiness from mind habits that's the problem.

  3. Are memories recorded moments of past mindfulness? Does that mean that people who are rarely mindful rarely have memories?

  4. Yes, the stickiness from mind habits is the problem - so remembering this in the present moment is the challenge!