I first came into contact with the term remembered wellness in my advanced yoga therapy training. It is part of the Relaxation Response associated with the Benson-Henry protocol and is a blend of meditation, imagery and relaxation response therapy.
The Benson-Henry Protocol is backed by modern science and proves that we can heal our bodies by altering gene expression with our mind and thoughts. It is used at Harvard and is applied during relaxation and meditation sessions.
It is applied to heal physical and emotional issues and as I practiced this technique in my training, I got to thinking on how I could apply “remembered wellness” to other areas of my life, not just during meditation.
Although the science and studies supports altering gene expression in as little as four weeks if practiced in a relaxed state of meditation for about 30 minutes daily, for myself it’s also proved to be a valuable tool for forgiveness and releasing resentment in general. Just another tool in my holistic mind-body-spirit lifestyle toolbox!
I recently was part of an engagement and five year relationship that ended. As anyone in a long term relationship knows, even when the split is for the best there is still emotional pain or other attachment issues to mentally process and work through in order to feel whole again.
I was well into my own personal process of healing but also well aware of how my energy shifted when I thought or communicated with him, or others asked me how everything was going.
I recognized my ego tendency to fall back into victimhood or worse, the blame game, so I knew I had to release any residual resentment in order to really move on, healthfully.
After the initial split I felt free as a bird and definitely knew it was the right choice, but then the pain body awareness set in and it was time to process the lingering emotions that had not yet shown themselves to me.
I took down all photos after we split for obvious reasons, but decided to leave one up.
The one I left up I saw every day as it hung on my fridge. When I looked it at, it reminded me of a gentler time when I felt safe, comfortable and connected. Even though things were not perfect during the time of this photo, it captured a moment, and when I look at it, that moment in that photo continued to make me smile, and that was my point of recognition.
I decided to apply the remembered wellness technique to this situation.
Every time I looked at the photo, I allowed my mind to drift back to that time and place.
When I thought of him, or when others asked, I would play that image in my mind’s eye and dwell on that feeling it still represents.
I selected three more scenarios from our five years together that really stood out and made me laugh or smile and I made the conscious decision that whenever my mind shifted to remembering him, or I was reminded of him, or us, to only drift back to those times, really allowing myself to feel and immerse in the memory. I played these scenes in my mind theatre, anytime I felt anything other than appreciation for the life experience and lessons this relationship has brought to me.
Being that this photo was on my fridge, I saw it every day—multiple times per day even. And, so, this intention was re-planted every time I looked at it. I remembered my choice to only remember the good times that made me laugh or smile.
Now I know what you’re thinking, glancing at a picture of your ex-fiancé and the two of you together on a daily basis seems more like self-torture than self-care! And of course I can see that point, but the only other choice was to ignore it, take down all photos, toss them in some shoebox and eventually still deal with whatever residual feelings I was carrying, only maybe in a way that wouldn’t support my well-being, physical, emotional or overall health.
After only a few days of this exercise my resentment dissipated. As I glanced at the picture I can recall allowing a tearful smile to cross my face as I released this energy and I thought to myself, “How lucky am I to have had this experience.”
Not the one in the photo, but the one I was having in that present moment, remembering fondly someone that once made me smile. At that moment I became grateful. I had closure. I held forgiveness and appreciation in my heart, for him and myself, and I let go.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Lauryn DeGrado/Editor: Travis May
Photo: Via Author