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Are emotional associated with memories "real"
October 26, 2004
12:28 pm
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When I recall certain experiences, I tag a feeling on to them and say "Oh, that was painful", or "Oh, how happy I was". I often "refeel" the emotion, if only briefly.

I have realized that if I dispassionately recall an experience trying to recall exactly what factually happened, I am too distracted in the intensity of recalling every fact that I do not give it an emotion.
I seem to look at it very "clinically" as just an event.

When I "catch" myself doing this, the need to give an emotion to the experience usually surfaces. And so I do it.

I've noticed that experiences very far in the past are difficult for me to add emotions to. That the emotion I can assign to the actual event is very dim and short lived. Although if I dwell on it, I can certainly work up some "steam" emotionwise.

Are emotional memories "real" or are they "manufactured"?.

October 26, 2004
2:25 pm
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emotional memories are real. they are neurological pathways - emotions help us to remember things. If there were no emotional connection to an event, chances are you don't remember it.

Remember locking your door this morning? Or blow-drying your hair? Or taking a shower? No. Because there was no emotional connection to burn the memory into your neural pathways.

October 26, 2004
7:07 pm
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I mean are the emotions I am remembering "real" stored in my brain and recalled, like memories.

Or have I stored a memory, recall it as "sad" know what sad is, then make myself feel how I remember "sad" feeling.

October 26, 2004
7:08 pm
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i know what i mean, but does that make sense?

October 26, 2004
7:31 pm
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Upfront.

"I mean are the emotions I am remembering "real" stored in my brain and recalled, like memories."

Dr. Joseph LeDoux a neuroscientist of NYU Labs thinks so. He research shows that emotional memories reside in the amygdala. According to LeDoux, the amygdala, via the hippocampus, play an important part in either inhibiting or enhancing the laying down of contextual memory traces as well. Cici is correct in what she says.

LeDoux has written and published two excellent books based upon his own research and that of others. One is called 'The Emotional Brain'(1996) ISBN 0-684-83659-9(Paperback) and the other 'The Synaptic Self'(2002) ISBN?.

October 26, 2004
9:57 pm
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So the event is stored in my brain as a memory. And the emotion is also a memory.

Can childhood stress, which supposedly affects the chemicals in the brain, affect the emotional "memory"?

I ask this because some of my memories just have no emotions associated with them, although others do. Some are dim, so I wonder if I am really "remembering" that emotion or just thinking it is appropriate.

October 27, 2004
12:26 pm
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No. The event is stored in your memory because of the emotion. They are intimately linked and cannot be considered as mutually exclusive, indivudally discreet sets of memory.

An extremely stressful situation will often be "whitewashed" by the brain. A certain amount of stress helps create a more defined memory, but it's a bellcurve - too little stress or too much stress will skew the memory and in some cases even erase it.

I don't remember the first time I was raped - I remember up to the beginning and afterward, the rape itself is just a black space in my memory.

October 27, 2004
1:30 pm
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workinonit
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I've always felt if I kept a memory for many years, it was usually a point in life where a new path for thinking or acting was created.

Now, reading the more knowledgable reactions here I see I need to explore this further. My thoughts were instinctual but it sounds like I am missing factual evidence I might enjoy learning about.

October 28, 2004
7:31 pm
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Workinonit.

Below is a quote from the Vietnamese Ch'an master, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. It is simply written, yet shows how cognition and emotional brain centers interact in a two-way feedback loop; a loop response that if not recognized and 'damped down',can run away out of control like wild horses in a thunder storm.
_____________________________________

"There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, "Where are you going?" and the first man replies, "I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others.
We have to learn the art of stopping - stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us.

When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace. We turn on the TV and then we turn it off. We pick up a book and then we put it down. How can we stop this state of agitation? How can we stop our fear, despair, anger, and craving? We can stop by practicing mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful smiling, and deep looking in order to understand. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always: understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.

But our habit energies are often stronger than our volition. We say and do things we don't want to and afterwards we regret it. We make ourselves and others suffer, and we bring about a lot of damage. We may vow not to do it again, but we do it again. Why? Because our habit energies (vashana) push us.
We need the energy of mindfulness to recognize and be present with our habit energy in order to stop this course of destruction.

With mindfulness, we have the capacity to recognize the habit energy every time it manifests. "Hello, my habit energy, I know you are there!" If we just smile to it, it will lose much of its strength. Mindfulness is the energy that allows us to recognize our habit energy and prevent it from dominating us.

Forgetfulness is the opposite. We drink a cup of tea, but we do not know we are drinking a cup of tea. We sit with the person we love, but we don't know that she is there. We walk, but we are not really walking. We are someplace else, thinking about the past or the future. The horse of our habit energy is carrying us along, and we are its captive. We need to stop our horse and reclaim our liberty. We need to shine the light of mindfulness on everything we do, so the darkness of forgetfulness will disappear. The first function of meditation - shamatha - is to stop.
The second function of shamatha is calming. When we have a strong emotion, we know it can be dangerous to act, but we don't have the strength or clarity to refrain. We have to learn the art of breathing in and out, stopping our activities, and calming our emotions. We have to learn to become solid and stable like an oak tree, and not be blown from side to side by the storm. The Buddha taught many techniques to help us calm our body and mind and look deeply at them. They can be summarized in five stages:

(1) Recognition - If we are angry, we say, "I know that anger is in me."

(2) Acceptance - When we are angry, we do not deny it. We accept what is present.

(3) Embracing - We hold our anger in our two arms like a mother holding her crying baby. Our mindfulness embraces our emotion, and this alone can calm our anger and ourselves.

(4) Looking deeply - When we are calm enough, we can look deeply to understand what has brought this anger to be, what is causing our baby's discomfort.

(5) Insight - The fruit of looking deeply is understanding the many causes and conditions, primary and secondary, that have brought about our anger, that are causing our baby to cry. Perhaps our baby is hungry. Perhaps his diaper pin is piercing his skin. Our anger was triggered when our friend spoke to us meanly, and suddenly we remember that he was not at his best today because his father is dying. We reflect like this until we have some insights into what has caused our suffering. With insight, we know what to do and what not to do to change the situation."

_____________________________________

October 28, 2004
8:04 pm
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mj
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Thank YOU

October 28, 2004
9:34 pm
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workinonit
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Jeez, Tez,

Are you sure you were not tapping into my thoughts? I'm not sure what to think right now so I won't just yet, but, this passage needs my attention and thoughtful reflection and maybe response.

Oh, I will eventually respond but, ...you have given me something that is my one block to attaining myself fully. You have seen something in my writing that forced your thoughts in this direction and for that unconcious response I thank you....again....

I'll be back......

October 29, 2004
9:22 am
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Interesting that I am reading a book entitled "Buddha" by Karen Armstrong now.

This book is not a How to do Buddhism text, but more about the different philosophies present at the time that the Gotama chose to follow his own path.
How he merged these "paths" into his own "path" which led to his "enlightenment".

One quote I pull from it: "Nibbana did not mean the the Buddha would never experience any more suffering. He would grow old, get sick and die like everybody else and would experience pain while doing so. Nibbana does not give an awakened person trancelike immunity, but an inner haven which enables a man or woman to live with pain, to take possession of it, affirm it, and experience a profound peace of mind in the midst of suffering."

Suffering apparently is not going to stop. I'll just get better at accepting it.

As for my memories, if I saw "it" or experienced "it" or heard "it", that must be stored in my brain somewhere. Assuming that my brain does not "forget". I am just not adept at getting to that "file folder".

And if I have no emotion surrounding an event, even a traumatic or stressful one as a child, have I suppressed that, OR maybe I have found that "inner haven" as described above. Maybe I embraced that suffering so fully as a child that upon reviewing it now, I have a measure of peace. I recall the event, yet there is no emotion.

I like to explore these thoughts. But I also must live in the real world. Back to the laundry.

October 29, 2004
10:22 am
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upfront -

When I was active in the transcendental meditation community locally I experienced a handful of moments of that joyful acceptance....

I had an awakening experience (which in all honesty I am still digesting) after experiencing a severe seizure cluster. It was described by some pychiatrists as a period of depersonalization where I was so overloaded that I essentially "lost" my concept of a separate self.

Sadly that experience faded away...it was a time of extreme terror and confusion for me, though, and only at the very tail end did I experience moments of clarity and extreme joy during 2 hour meditations.

But it wasn't like there was no emotion, it was more like I simply recognized that there was no self to really associate the emotion with - the emotion, and the memory of "reality", were a construction.

Somehow though, I have lost a lot of what I temporarily internalized. All part of the process, I guess.

But since that experience 18 months ago I still have difficulty retaining memories of anything. Events, people, objects, seem to pass through my mind.

October 29, 2004
8:28 pm
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Cici.

You said to Upfront:

"Somehow though, I have lost a lot of what I temporarily internalized. All part of the process, I guess.

But since that experience 18 months ago I still have difficulty retaining memories of anything. Events, people, objects, seem to pass through my mind.
"

Whilst my "awakening experience" has been a gradual process rather than sudden like yours, I have in common with you my lack of ability to permanently remain in that 'realized state'.

Time passes much faster for me now - sometimes in a dreamlike state. I attribute my "difficulty retaining memories of anything" and my experience that "events, people, objects, seem to pass through my mind" to their lack of emotional relevance. One of the advantages of the deep realization of not having an 'intrinsic' self is that there is no one to defend;thus the absence of amygdala triggers. Because of their lacking emotional relevance, many of life experiences are not converted into contextual memories traces - at least not biologically and physiologically speaking. I'm not so sure about what happens at the alaya consciousness level though. Anyway ... this is how I convince myself that I am not in the early stages of Altzhiemer's syndrome. 🙂

October 29, 2004
8:38 pm
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Mj and Workinonit.

Thank you both appreciative responses. In all humility I must say that I just 'passed the ball on'.

Workinonit, you correctly pointed out in your words "... that unconcious response", that our unconscious minds are in contact with that of others. I intuit this strongly as do you.

October 29, 2004
8:57 pm
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Upfront.

You said:

"Suffering apparently is not going to stop. I'll just get better at accepting it."

It helps me to see that 'suffering' is the result of a certain attitude to 'pain'.

Both physical or psychological pain are signals telling us that something is 'malfunctioning' and therefore 'welfare' threatening.

What we make out of these signals determines whether we suffer or not.

Yes the Buddha did experience the negative results of his past as 'pain' - this was inevitable. But his attitude to his pain reduced his suffering - probably to zilch.

Buddha reached Nibbana(Pali) or Nirvana (Sanskrit) after his Bodhi tree awakening. However out of compassion, he taught the way to others over 45 years wherein all his karmic (Kammic) consequences were exhausted. At his death, the Buddha then moved on to Parinirvana(Parinibbana).

October 30, 2004
1:28 am
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Cici-

Of the depersonalized state, seizures, etc...

Years ago when I was not on medication, I had these types of experiences. By this I am in no way implying that you need meds, but I'm putting it in my own context because it is relevant for me. At the time I was in no way "psychotic" or irritable as I have been when I first got diagnosed and was "sick." Following it I had no inflated sense of self, socialized as normal, went to classes, functioned, etc...

It is curious to me that in contemporary society that such experiences are associated with illness rather that spiritual enlightenment... but i guess it is no coincidence. Religion now seems more concerned with controlling populations and telling them what to think than encouraging spiritual experience or exploration in a true way.

Quite often people with my diagnosis (bipolar) or other mental illnesses will have spiritual experiences that are inexplicably similar throughout history. In part, this can be explained by cultural influence. But the rest, I honestly believe is due to what goes on in the brain that can be explained by both science AND spirituality (which explains what science never will).

In my case it was like the boundaries between myself and the outside world dissolved, I also felt that "ONE-ness" with the Earth, and the Infinite and sensed the interconnectedness of all beings. It probably could be explained away as a "manic" episode- (I wish I could say that's what the illness is like for me, but it is not. My experience with bipolar is mostly depression, and "irritability" at best).

It was weird, it was the time of life, I was open to that sort of thing... living where I could spend a lot of solitary time in the woods etc... But something chemical allowed that to happen, and whatever it was-sickness or not-I'm grateful for it. It influenced me a great deal. I should contemplate it a little more these days because I'm going through a crisis of faith and a loss of spirituality.

-ella

October 30, 2004
11:45 am
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Your timing was extraordinary for pointing at the moon. 🙂

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