Could Memories be the Key to Understanding
Or are they designed to keep us from remembering too much?
I hope you had a fabulous weekend! I couldn’t stop learning about memories, and holy moly, did I learn a lot. Which is why you’ll find this newsletter to be a tad longer than usual because, to be honest, everything we learned on Friday now feels like a tiny piece of a monumental mosaic.
Think of it this way. Some of humanity’s biggest unanswered questions revolve around our minds/Selves/consciousness/whatever, right? Over the centuries, various categories evolved to study in our pursuit of answers — such as our emotions, dreams, psychology, and, you guessed it, our memory — all connecting back to this central goal of understanding us.
These are all things we know exist, but we haven’t completely figured out how to explain them scientifically—not that we haven’t made significant strides. But can learning more about our memories get us closer to understanding consciousness or Life itself?
In Friday’s Curious Adventure newsletter, we dipped our toes in the pool of knowledge surrounding memory. We learned the bare-bones basics regarding our primary types of memory and where our brains create, store, and retrieve them.
Short-term, long-term, and sensory memories are the most well-known. Short-term memories last only a few seconds to a few hours. Sensory memories communicate information about our surroundings to our brain—such as this tea is sweet or it’s raining outside.
Long-term memory is more complicated because it consists of explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) memories. Explicit ones can be further separated into either episodic (things that have happened to you) or semantic (general knowledge about the world). In contrast, implicit memories can be priming (forming connections) or procedural (motor functions).
Near the end, I mentioned that memories aren’t facts—they can be manipulated, distorted, and even implanted. Not to mention the widely accepted theory that memories exist not just in our brains but our bodies too. I don’t know about you, but this incites a whole new batch of questions for me. So, I did some digging, and are you ready? Because I’m about to drop some knowledge.
Basic Body Memories
First up, when thinking about the body and memories, your first thought might be about muscle memory, which is totally a thing. But it’s not the only way our bodies store memories.
The first time I learned that the body holds memories was while in school for massage therapy. We had a whole section on it, and I admit I was skeptical at first, but my suspicions didn’t last long. Throughout my career, it became obvious.
Most massage therapists, acupuncturists, and even yoga teachers (and students)—at least all the ones I’ve ever known—experience it at some point. I’ve experienced it countless times as both practitioner and while receiving treatment.