How far back in your past can you remember? Very few people can remember anything of the first year of their life, and most can remember only from the age of three or four onward. Thus, the few memories that we have of our childhood are very precious to us.

We attach great significance to these first memories, setting each one as some kind of milestone in our early life. Whatever it is that has fixed them in our minds, these memories play a major role in shaping us – they are part of who we are.

One method I use to return to memories from the past is what I call “Time Travel”. The idea is to return to a location from your past, which will trigger a series of memories. The location could be a school, a relative’s house, or a village you once lived in.

past

In the following exercise you can try out this method for yourself. Your aim is to return to a particular location and time in your past, so that you can release and enrich your memories.

This is a beneficial exercise for the memory in itself, and you may decide to spend five or ten minutes a day working on a specific place and time from your past. You should notice that each time you return to the scene you will be starting with a clearer overview of that time gone by. As your associations with that particular place and time strengthen, you will find that one memory will trigger another. You may also find that memories will pop into your dreams, and pieces of the mental jigsaw puzzle that were once lost may now be restored.

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Time Travel

This exercise gives you the oppotunity to try out the Time Travel method for yourself. Remember to use those three keys of memory – association, location and imagination – to conjure up the scene from the past and bring it to life.

1. Choose a specific starting point such as a school playground, a museum, an old attic or a special part of your garden where you frequently spent time. Wherever you start, try to picture little details in your mind’s eye: maybe a painting on a wall, a glass cabinet containing a book you once read, or whatever.

2. Try to recall people connected with this place: their voices, the way they laughed, certain mannerisms.

3. Try to recapture the sounds you once heard in this place, such as a squeaky door, a train that used to pass by, children playing outside, or the music you listened to at that time. What smells do you associate with this place? Fresh flowers? Polished wood? Try to recall how your surroundings felt to touch, such as a stone wall or iron gate, or the fabric covering the arm of an old chair.

4. Try to remember your emotional state at that specific time. Were you generally happy, melancholy, care-free, unsure of the world, in love? The more layers you can tap into from your past, the more memories will be released.