Explore a Memory, How Does It Feel?


During last week’s conference call we took about five minutes of silence to explore a memory – what it felt like, how we distinguished between past, present, and future, and how it felt around the memory?

Over the ensuing week that little exercise has just been calling me, I am seduced by its depth, simply fascinated by what it offers. It’s a gift that has kept on giving.

Initially, the memory I chose was a vivid one of sitting on the beach on a bright beautiful day. I mentioned in class recalling memory flashes of the heat of the sun on my skin, the bright blueness of the sky and the blue-green ocean, crashing waves, the salt smell, the sound of all the people laughing-talking all around, and so on. I thought the feelings that I remembered associated with that memory, and the flashing images were the whole of that memory, as if it was fixed, as if I assumed it was a frozen snapshot, bounded by limits I was constructing in the present while in the act of re-calling sitting on the beach — frozen in time.

But as I kept returning to the memory it dawned on me more ‘stuff’ kept coming to my attention, like space, gaps and holes between and around the flashing images, and I realized, first, the memory is not a static thing. Even though we say the past is dead and gone, in a sense it isn’t, it’s alive because I am alive. The memory is a dynamic, moving thing in time, and while I skimmed over it initially as what I chose to focus upon, it was just a ‘summary’ of a moment of experience that was NOT bounded. I set the boundaries of it back then when I experienced it, and even when I recalled it as a memory.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) —

Working with the memory, as I noticed space or darkness around the edges between flashes of images, I decided to focus on those spaces, and what surprised me was that these spaces opened up. It was as if they were little tunnels or worm holes that led to some subset of the memory — like a new flash of specific faces in the crowd around me of children and adults coming out of the water toweling off, and sitting on their beach chairs talking to others. Each gap I encountered led to, or opened another branch of my remembrance. (An airplane dragging a long colorful sign, girls talking to the lifeguards, and so on.) You could say the past opened to reveal more branches, or that time unfolded what I (a consolidating self) had previously enfolded.

I found this ‘opening the past’ exercise exhilarating, how it informed my present about how I go about structuring time, processing experience by managing content, by controlling, and ordering how and what unfolds.

An additional prior practice describing a memory can be found here:

About David Filippone

David Filippone has been a student of Tarthang Tulku’s Time, Space, Knowledge (TSK) vision for over twenty-five years. For the past twelve years, he has studied TSK and Full Presence Mindfulness with Jack Petranker, director of the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI). He also participated in programs offered by Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Center. For the past several years, David has curated the CCI Facebook page, which is often TSK-focused, and he serves on the CCI Board of Directors. The CCI Facebook page can be found at the following link... https://www.facebook.com/CenterforCreativeInquiry/
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5 Responses to Explore a Memory, How Does It Feel?

  1. David Filippone says:

    In class today, we were asked to take a few moments to read the paragraph below from SDTS p. 214, and “Inhabit” a memory.

    “At this point, the transitions of experience can be differently observed. Rather than remembering or forgetting the past, we can inhabit it. Inhabiting it, we can let go of it. Letting go of it, we are able to specify the future, not at a distance, but from within. The tenseness of our present way of being can give way.”

    I wrote that I found focusing on the spaces in the memory opened them, and further opening the memory actually opened boundaries that I saw I had constructed. So INHABITING was dropping many of the limits that I assumed the memory was composed of. When that happened the memory seemed to come alive, became immediate, there was not a subject /object relationship between me and memory, I WAS the memory. Inhabiting happened.

  2. David Filippone says:

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your comment. You mentioned your experience of the past as doorway gave you access to a new ‘friendship’ for the persons YOU had been in all those forgotten times of transition. I can empathize with that because it also resonates with me.

    I find it interesting that someone might read my accounting of exploring the memory and conclude, “He’s just remembering a past event. Everyone does that.” But it’s much more than that, it’s actually not assuming a summary of a memory is a fact. Doing that would be an example of an act of taking Time for granted, something TSK warns us against. But inquiring into the memory opens Time in a direct way.

  3. michaelg says:

    Your post is captivating, David. As well as giving eloquent testimony to the rich potential of experience–both in the storehouse of memories that we can access and in the act of remembering them–your post is like a living adventure in the power of 16. Your branches, growing in the tree of time remembered, and the way those unsuspected branches lead to new experiences in the present, is a revelation. It brings into the open something mysterious and obsure–at least to my mind–in the presentation in SDTS of how the “I am here” reaches out into time and space. Who would have thought that that reaching out into new terrain continues to be a potent actor in the stronghold of time past. My own experience of the Past being a doorway to new experience had a different feel: for me it was as if challenging the conviction that my past was inherently uninteresting, opened me up to access a new friendship for the persons I had been in all those forgotten times of transition.

  4. Caroline Sherwood says:

    Thank you for this very clear description, David. It makes me feel that there’s an interesting illustrated book of a collection of these posts. I’m particularly interested in the wormholes. What happens if we go into those…and into those…how far down the worm hole can we go, and if we do, what do we find, and who are ‘we’ when we get there?

    • David Filippone says:

      Thanks Caroline.
      You got me thinking about these interesting questions: If we go into them, “how far down the worm hole can we go?” When I remembered focusing into the ‘wormhole’ what was blank or dark just suddenly opened, so it wasn’t like I was traveling any distance like going ‘down’ a tunnel, but conventions of language have me speaking in those terms. Another thought about ‘distance’ brought up the idea of sequences, such as how many wormholes could I focus upon that would open that summary memory of sitting on the beach in the sun, as opposed to opening some other context entirely? I realized I had abandoned the sense of distance as focus just seemed to open itself as additional impressions seemed to bubble up to a more full awareness. And I think ‘intent’ was an unseen gossamer thread that kept the focal awareness opening into the widest context of that summary memory. I don’t know how many times I could have fruitfully focused into those wormholes.

      I also was wondering about your question if we do repeatedly ‘go down’ the wormhole, so to speak, “who are ‘we’ when we get there?” I think TSK would suggest we are the open witness that is followed in time by a continuous tendency that consolidates and organizes impressions.

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