Just because a memory can’t be deleted doesn’t mean that it has to be recalled

When we strive to grow in our life, our memories may hold us back. These memories may be about distressing times when we were victimized or betrayed. Or they may be about addictive desires that we have indulged in repeatedly. When such memories keep arising in our consciousness and haunting us, we often feel especially helpless because we don’t have any delete button to get rid of them.

How, then, can we deal with unhealthy memories? The same way our computer’s antivirus software deals with virus files that can’t be deleted; it quarantines them, ensuring that they aren’t opened or activated.

Similarly, we can quarantine our unhealthy memories by choosing not to contemplate them. Contemplating a memory is like clicking a file. The Bhagavad-gita (02.62-63) indicates that contemplation on any stimuli activates an inner thought-chain that grows from perception through obsession to self-destructive action. Such distracting stimuli may arise externally from the world or internally from our mind.

Gita wisdom explains that we are different from our mind and its memories – we are souls, who exist at the spiritual level of reality. How can we become conscious of our spiritual identity? The best way is by practicing the process of bhakti-yoga, which directs our consciousness towards the supreme spiritual object, Krishna, the all-attractive whole whose eternal parts we are.

Bhakti-yoga also offers not just an attractive object for focusing, but also an inspiring purpose for living: to redefine all our activities as offerings of loving service to Krishna. Focusing on him through recollection internally and contribution externally gives us inner strength and satisfaction, thereby enabling us to distance ourselves from the mind’s distractions.

When we thus focus on Krishna, our unhealthy memories get relegated to the background. Gradually, they disappear into oblivion as we become increasingly absorbed in devotion.

Think it over:

  • How can we deal with the memories that hold us back?
  • How does bhakti-yoga help us neglect unhealthy memories?
  • Which memory troubles you – how can you stop recollecting it?

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