Mindful remembering – valuing the past

Dianne St. Jean
Mindful remembering – valuing the past

This is that time of year when there tends to be more of an emphasis on memories and nostalgia than any other season.

We mark November with ceremonies of remembrance, and that spurs us on to revisit history at that time every year. Without those commemorations, it is doubtful that we, on our own, would be mindful to remember those events, especially as generations pass.

Let’s call it mindful remembering, or valuing the past.

Without remembrance, especially mindful or intentional remembrance, the past and those involved in it lose their value, as in the same way things or individuals that have little or no value to us rarely or easily ever come to mind.

That is why it is important to deliberately choose to remember, and to remember selectively.

When I say remember selectively, I don’t mean only remembering some things while ignoring others.

Every long-term experience or relationship undergoes times of both good and bad, positive and negative, happy and sad.

The old saying that we should remember only good things is neither realistic, nor truthful, nor helpful; rather, it is how we respond to what we remember that determines the value we will assign in our minds to those people and events, as well as ourselves.

Good memories make us smile, tougher ones damage us if we bury or deny them. Perhaps those not-so-good memories are an opportunity to bravely revisit and face our demons in order to overcome them – demons such as fear, resistance, perhaps even bias.

It is often as we grow older and experience more, and then look back at those things and people we previously places little value or passed judgment on, that we suddenly see things from a different perspective.

Let me give an example. As a young and yet quite naïve woman – especially in terms of relationships – I would become angered at the attitude of an older woman close to me in regards to her comments about the subject.

It wasn’t until many years later, after experiencing some very painful moments that that same woman had experience, that I came to realize and understand why she felt the way she did. I now saw her in a different light. My memories of her were now suddenly mindful rather than simply reactionary, and because of that, she became more valued in my eyes.

Whether the remembrance is of relationships or people, or former ways of doing things, we need to be deliberate and intentional in how we store those memories in our minds and hearts.

Antiques, old coin collections, yellow-paged books, letters or maps – all things that are tokens of times past are not just considered to be valuable based on what they are made of, but because of what they represent of the past… mindful remembering.