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HOW MEMORY WORKS

If we could only understand how our memory works, we could access deep memories, even those before birth.  The study of Zookinesis and Tai-chi explains the mechanics of memory and teaches us how to access these deep memories.  Natural memory, or what is called, “sacred memory” is the biological way memories are stored.  It is the memory of feeling states, which includes how your body feels, skills you have acquired, and how your interaction with the world around you, changes your internal state. 

This type of memory is not related to time but to maintaining an optimal internal state of health, and an optimal connection to your natural environment.  You do not lay down memories in a time-line.  Rather, this type of memory is cyclic, sometimes moving away from optimal condition and sometimes returning to it. 

At a certain point in life, you learn about time and your life begins to revolve around time.  You are taught to lay down memories using time as a reference.  Time, rather than health, is the reference point of a memory.  You dissociate yourself from inner feeling and the feeling of health so that you can become part of the “time culture” we have invented.  Your behavior no longer binds you to health but to time. 

Furthermore the type of time we use as the basis of our culture is separated from the vagaries of nature.  Rather than judging time by the flowering of a certain type of plant or the appearance of a certain insect, we use clock time to eliminate any variations.  This allows the world around us to appear mechanistic and our lives to become mechanistic. 

Taoist teaching teaches us to experience every moment of our lives with our whole selves.  Even when a thought comes to us, we not only experience that thought as words, but as internal feelings.  Thoughts become complexes of feelings and associations with a short label of words.  The words are not the thoughts.  The feelings and experiences are the thoughts. 

In this way every aspect of life stirs the body, stirs the emotions, and stirs our connection to nature.  Life is more vivid, intense and beautiful.  It is much easier to access the earliest memories because those complexes of feelings are still present.

When we learn a Tai-chi form, for example, we are concentrating on the feeling of our body’s alignment at each moment.  The teacher adjusts our body so that we can feel proper alignment in that pose and feel how energy flows so much more freely when we are aligned. 

We concentrate on how each muscle must become alive and have an eagerness to move.  At first, the eagerness of the muscle is to remain tight.  We learn how to convince the muscle to relax.  When the muscle feels the joy of relaxation and its increased competence, it becomes eager to relax and move.  We remember the process of developing eagerness in that muscle and apply the same process to other muscles.  In this way, memory can be transferred from one muscle to the other. 

Each muscle “remembers” how it can interact with other muscles to create the proper flow of movement for the Tai-chi form or Zookinesis exercise.  The memories of each muscle interact with the memories of the others, as if they were people sitting around talking about “the old times”. 

Those memories of interaction then interact with your creativity so that the muscles can play with their relationships with each other.  Using the memory of how they learned to cooperate with each other as a basis, the muscles are also affected by your memory of an eagle flying, or perhaps, a tiger pouncing.  The muscles blend their memories of cooperation with the other muscles with the memory of the eagle flying and create a composite.  This is how animal forms are developed.  Each is based on proper body mechanics for a human yet influenced by the movements of an animal.

This is an example of how we re-ignite the internal dynamics of memory that were the norm before we learned about clock time.  We learn to operate with both modes of memory and not sacrifice “sacred memory” for “clock memory”.  Sacred memory allows you to live in eternity within each second of clock time.  You have access to the memory of your whole body and spirit, and their connection to all of nature.  Yet you can still show up to an appointment “on time”.

TAI-CHI FOR MUSICIANS

A newborn is completely dependent on the people around him or her.  The behavior patterns of the people around him gradually imprint themselves on his behavior.  At a certain age he begins to exert his independence to break free from the control others have over him.

As an adult we must balance our connection to our surroundings with our creative individuality.  The skill of creating this balance is key to our power and fulfillment in life. 

A musician in a band, for example, must have skill both in playing his instrument and in allowing the other band members to connect with his playing, thus playing his instrument through him.  In this way there is a balance between synchronizing his playing with the others and creatively leading the music.

Each musician “gives life” to his or her instrument and feels that his fingers, his breath (depending on the instrument) and even the instrument itself have a life of their own.  He feels that the instrument is playing itself and interacting with the “aliveness” of the other instruments.

In this way playing in a band is similar to raising a child.  There is a struggle between the feeling of control and the desire to let the instrument or child have a consciousness of its own.  At a certain point you feel that you can just sit back and let the instrument play itself.  At a certain point you can allow the child to control his own life (maybe when he is in his thirties).

When you get involved in any relationship you go through this same process.  Each person has issues of controlling or letting the other person control and they hopefully learn to blend together.  You reproduce your early childhood with each relationship.

So how well you learn to balance the effect of external influence with your own internal creative control as a child will greatly affect all future relationships.

It may be difficult to remember how you developed as a child.  Children’s memories are recorded as “states of being” not as events in time.  Accessing each type of memory requires a different mechanism of your attention.

There is an exercise you can do that shows you how to use your attention to access childhood and even fetal memories.  I use this exercise to prove to my students that there are indeed dynamics to their attention.  In order to perform a specific conscious act you must use a specific dynamic of attention.  These dynamics are the “secrets” that ancient teachers taught to their advanced students.  It is a large part of Zookinesis training.

To do this exercise requires that you have some basic awareness of the feeling of attention itself and its movements.  It may take years of training to get even to that point.

So here is the exercise.  First remember a specific event in your life that happened at least two years ago.  Spend one minute remembering the event and when it happened.

Next remember a state of the body.  It can be sad, happy, surprised, relaxed, agitated, warm, cold – any specific state.  It must NOT be related to any specific event or time.  Feel that state for about a minute. 

Next do each again but this time notice if your attention moves up or down and if it relaxes and opens up or if it compresses.  Use the same event and body state as you did before.  Write down what your attention does for remembering the event and for remembering the state of the body. The results should be the same for everyone as long as you are familiar with what attention is.  You can read many of the lessons on this site to learn about attention.

I will not tell you what those dynamics are for this exercise so I don’t prejudice you (but you can email me and I’ll let you know).

If we can become aware of these dynamics we can develop skill in their use.  We can use this skill to become much more aware of the world around us and how to interact with it.  We will see aspects of our everyday world we were not aware of before.

Infant and fetal memory can be accessed easily so we understand how we tried to make sense of this world and fit into it.  Some of the solutions we came up with were useful and some ineffective.  To what degree do we shut out the world around us and how does that affect us?  To what degree are we too vulnerable and how does that harm us?

Once we gain awareness of these mechanisms, the awareness itself is the solution to the problems.  It is as if someone’s eyes were shut and he kept walking into things.  He spent his life remembering where everything was so he wouldn’t bump into them.  But the best solution is to just open his eyes.

Learning about the dynamics of attention is like opening your eyes.  Then you can easily balance the interplay of letting influence in (Yin) and exerting creative influence out (Yang).

There are exercises to develop each of these two parts of the balance.  When you practice your Tai-chi form, initiate each movement from the center of the body – the hip area.  Then let the movement flow outward through the legs, the torso, arms and head.  This will develop the outward flow of creative energy (Yang).  Imagine that you are in a pond and someone drops various sized and shaped rocks into the center of the pond.  The dropping of each rock is like an initiation of movement because it creates ripples in the water that flow outward.  Each movement of the form ripples out from your center (your tan-tien).

For the Yin aspect of this dynamic, allow the legs, torso, arms and head to yield to the initiated movement and reproduce its quality of energy.  You will be like the water itself that yields to the force of the falling rock.

The water on the surface of the lake is completely smooth at first as the water is relaxed.  It is like a musician who stays in the proper stance to play his instrument.  He is not grabbing the instrument with tension as if to protect it from the influence of his band members.  He does not feel territorial about his instrument but holds it in a relaxed and open way.

On the other hand, his stance is not sloppy.  That would interfere with transferring his creative energy to the instrument.  He is open and connected to the other players influence but also connected to his instrument so that it is receptive to his influence.

He is open and receptive to his entire history of development as a human being because he knows how to remember.  So the quality of his music is expressive of his entire life.

He can see how his life can really be described as a quest to learn about this balance of the dynamics of attention.  It is about the development of his soul.

When you know your soul the audience knows it, whether you are a musician or just a regular person interacting with another person.

Your soul is really the musician playing you and it plays all day and night.  For that reason it would be very helpful it if played well.