This article has been in the works for the past 3 months or so. And has undergone multiple edits, for a change.
I had some trouble with my phone some time ago. This problem was to be rectified by doing a “hard reset” – which required wiping the “cache” and “data” on the phone, and as it is called, “reset phone to factory settings.” I did the factory reset, and the phone started working properly again!
And this was when my sister asked me, “Is a hard reset for life possible?” And she added, “If only it was so simple to rectify situations in life, like restoring to factory settings on a phone!” I responded, rather cheekily, “Yes, of course it is. And for that, one needs to forget the pain from the past, and focus on and live in the present.”
I said that and let it go. And then I had a video chat with my nephew who lives in the USA (son of the sister who asked me this question.) And when he was told this, he said, “Well, that could be the topic for your next article.” And so, this article came into being!
And then came the understanding! That between thinking about and reliving the past (anger, regret, sadness, grief and so on,) and worrying about the future (worry, fear and desire and so on,) most people forget to live in the present moment.
A person is the sum total of their life’s experiences. There are events, and then there are experiences. While events take place, each person’s experience of these events could be extremely different. And how each person internalizes their experiences could have a big effect on how their life turns out to be. And this in turn affects how each person forms beliefs, and values.
I had an exchange with a client of mine. During this session, I mentioned to my client, “I am not playing with words here. And words are important. Words are how we think. And words are formed from language. The language and the expressions that a person uses to think, creates their version of their experiences.”
And I added, even a person who is born deaf (and therefore mute) probably thinks using sign language, which is their language and medium of communication. Languages and cultures could be different and sometimes, these differences in languages and cultures could also affect how people think, and form versions of their experiences.
There is an event that takes place. And each person has their own experience from the event. And why is that? That is because the emotions associated with each event creates the unique experience for the individual. And what are emotions?
What exactly are emotions?
Emotion is the link between biology and behaviour, says Dr. Alan Watkins, in his book “Coherence”. He further goes on to state that “e-motion” is actually “energy in motion.”
Research (Daniel Goleman and The Dalai Lama, 2004) shows that there are 34,000 different physiological sensations (Feelings) that can be experienced in the human body. And language is limited. With the use of words and phrases, these “feelings” can be described. However, it has also been found that most people can at best label 12 of the most common feelings or emotions that they experience in their bodies!
Dr. Watkins goes on further to list out 76 POSITIVE (from Affectionate to Warm Hearted) and 80 NEGATIVE emotions (from Angry to Worried) that we COULD be aware of. Dr.Watkins says that an individual’s ability to distinguish between various emotions with a greater awareness and clarity will enable them to connect more effectively with themselves and with those around. For example, under the broad umbrella of “sad” could be grief, worry, dejected, hopeless, etc. And under the “happy” umbrella could be finer sub-divisions like excited, jolly, joyful, amused etc.
Suffice to say that given all this, each experience is so totally unique to each individual and it is very difficult, and maybe even almost impossible, for anyone to truly comprehend what something actually means to another.
The link between experiences, emotions & memories!
Every time an experience is re-visited from memory, research says that we alter the memory of that experience. There could be either reinforcement or fading away of the emotions associated with the experience. This definitely makes for considerably altering the perception of the experience. And also altering the emotions that one feels when they access a memory. And this has a far reaching effect on all future experiences as well.
Using a periodic “soft reset” might be more useful than a “hard reset!”
While the title talks about a “hard reset,” doing a periodic “soft reset” is easier, and more manageable. In essence, if we were to look at it, this is cleaning of the cache, and effecting a “soft reset” of our memories, experiences and beliefs about life, on a daily basis. This is also probably most useful.
How do I do a “soft reset?” periodically?
Meditation has been known, and proven to help with a person having equanimity about their life’s circumstances, events and experiences. However, many most don’t know what meditation is, and after that, how to meditate. And to many others, meditation is “religious” nonsense. This belief about meditation also is most probably acquired from others and not through one’s own experiences. So, meditation is much maligned, even though it is extremely useful and beneficial.
To me, meditation is contemplation, with awareness and acceptance, to begin with. Once this becomes normal, of non-attached, non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of things within, then maybe life becomes easier.
And this type of meditation is simple to practice. Marshall Goldsmith says, “Simple does not mean easy.” With practice, and starting off small, it is possible to build on the very modest beginning to reach much greater levels.
Probably, “meditation” can help, reset the cache, and recall and use only that which is useful
The key is to start small and slow. A suggestion on what MIGHT be useful is to use this progression (extremely cryptic, by design to convey the message rather than the detailed process):
Step 1: 20 seconds – eyes closed, awareness of breath, following the breath from the nostril, to the lungs and back out again. Repeat until a period of 20 seconds (normally 3-4 breaths only). Keep extending the time period in increments of 1 second until one is able to be aware of their breath for at least 1 minute in a focused manner. Then move to the next step in the progression.
Step 2: 2 minutes to begin with: Start with awareness of breath; then become aware of thoughts – ANY thought that comes up; like an observer; being non-judgmental; just becoming aware of the thoughts, and any feelings or emotions associated with the thought. Bringing back awareness to the breath as often and as one notices that awareness has shifted from breath.
Step 3: 4 to 5 minutes to begin with: Breathing – followed by awareness of thoughts; if the feeling or emotion associated with the thought makes one feel bad (guilty, afraid, angry, ashamed, etc.,) to acknowledge the feeling. Acknowledge all such thoughts and feelings, being aware, and attempting to be “non-judgmental.”
Step 5: 10-15 minutes or more: Next step, in the progression, once a repetitive pattern of thoughts or feelings is noticed, make a conscious statement, “I love and accept myself, even though I feel _________ about this thought.” Repeat statement until the feeling is either completely gone, or no longer makes one feel the negative emotion.
Coming back to awareness of breath, and a conscious acceptance of self, as often as possible.
Note: Step no. 4 could also be used to handle emotions about others’ actions – by replacing the other person in the statement, than oneself. And also to accept oneself for feeling this way about others.
This is cleaning of the cache, and effecting a “soft reset” of our memories, experiences and beliefs about life, on a daily basis.
And by doing this and living with this non-attached, non-judgmental, awareness is probably what will help each of us handle all of life’s travails and troubles, leading us to live with happiness, health, peace, love and joy – which will definitely lead to achievement of Success!!