One of the reasons why our bodies cannot recapture the essence of youth is that youth is so often filled with traumatic events. Subconsciously we sense that to return to who we were then would be to shed all we have learnt, and that we would end up lost again, perhaps bullied, taking the wrong decisions, in pain and fearful of the future. And yet recapturing the vibration of youth is one of the keys to staying ageless.
There is a solution to this dilemma : rewriting the past. Scientists have shown that future actions may influence past events, at least when it comes to the spooky world of quantum physics. Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna discovered in 2012 that a decision to entangle particles can affect the past behaviour of other related particles, even though they may no longer exist.
It is now a well-known fact that we stimulate the same brain regions when we visualise an action and when we actually perform that same action. For example, when you visualise walking down the street, it stimulates the same part of the brain that is activated when you actually take that walk. There are documented cases from stroke patients who visualised being able to move their limbs and in so doing saved the corresponding brain areas from death. If blood cannot reach the tissue that the artery once fed with oxygen and nutrients, that tissue dies. This tissue death then spreads to surrounding areas. However, if the patient imagines moving the affected arm or leg, brain blood flow to the affected area increases and the surrounding brain tissue is saved. This is the power of visualisation – no longer a myth, no longer the domain of new age sandal-wearers but a tried and tested technique used by athletes, fighter pilots and entrepreneurs going for gold. Imagining a better outcome for a past hurt actually changes the physiology of the trauma, locked in our cells.
There is something of a contradiction, some might say, in rewriting the story of a painful childhood or youth, since the lessons learnt through processing the pain are often precious; they prevent us from making the same mistakes again. Other benefits of remembering what we learnt through psychological trauma are understanding others, a quick grasp of social situations, an ability to ‘read’ other people and deeper capacity for empathy. It would therefore be unfortunate to give all this up.
The way to rewrite the past then is to see painful past experiences as huge privileges since they were the door to insights and wisdom we would otherwise never have had. Seeing these experiences as positive is the first step. The next is not to feel pain whenever we recall them, perhaps even moving on to see them with humour. Perception is everything, and certain people ascribe more importance to events and are more hurt by some experiences than others. Another method to rewire our brains is to imagine how we would have liked to have felt about a bad situation. This may involve imagining saying what we wished we had said, or feeling “zen” enough not to have let it bother us, or feeling empathy and understanding regarding the ignorance of those who inflicted pain.
No longer feeling the hurt is a crucial step towards rewriting the past while hanging onto the benefits of those experiences. Ultimately our goal is to know the past and the lessons learnt so deeply we no longer have to relive them. And the past always contains happy moments – no one lives a life of unceasing misery. Our experience of life depends entirely on the way we think of it.
This frees us to go back to the vitality of youth.
Recall two memories from youth – one an unpleasant one, a conflict we never resolved. Perhaps we feel guilty for not having stood up for ourselves. In the light of what we know now, what would we have said? Imagine ourselves saying it, expressing our point of view calmly and without fear. We relive the moment but instead act on what we feel, loving ourselves as valuable human beings. We rewrite our story.
The other memory is a good one, a carefree moment from youth – perhaps riding on a scooter in the summer, or a dinner with friends filled with laughter, a lover, a friend, a holiday. Let us fill the moment with our present selves.
This is our set point, a return to the vibration of youth, but without the trauma.
Taking ourselves mentally back to our set point takes our whole body back to our set point. The set point is a point of perfect health, perfect appearance and peace of mind.