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If one has recollection of memories that were experiences of pain be it physical, mental, emotional, how do these affect the path?

Often memories are triggered involuntarily and more than often they surface when reflecting.

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This is a form of Papanca or mental proliferation (If one has recollection of memories that were experiences of pain be it physical, mental, emotional, ...). At first you should try to learn what is happening at your experiential level. When there is the is contact, there is feeling, feeling coupled with perception creates a metal reaction which creates more feeling which triggers more memories with similar association (either by type of feeling, situation, people or external objects involved).

1st you have to you have to practice equanimity towards the feelings and reduce the reaction. This in term reduces proliferation as there are lesser amount of bodily feeling to combine with perception to create to create new formations. Also equanimity reduces your hold on perception which again is needed to create formations. (Some of these relationships are covered in Abhidhamma for the Beginner by Egorton C. Baptist page 2.) The Buddhist path aims to put an end to creating volitional formation and also calm exiting formation.

Also thinking and pondering is verbal fabrication (... how do these affect the path?), which is something you have to actively calm. You should calm them by 1st looking at them and practising equanimity thus your volitional reaction. Also dissolving base off Sanna or perception which triggers this reaction. In addition you can anchor your mind on one object.

Often memories are triggered involuntarily and more than often they surface when reflecting.

None off these are triggered involuntarily. They are reaction of Sanna combined with Vedena which creates Sankhara. (Again refer to Abhidhamma for the Beginner, page 2.) The contact is due to past Sankara, either a karma which gave fruit giving you the experience which caused the incident and subsequently caused the memory, or the rebirth related Karma (your existence in Samsara) along with a Niyama Dhamma. Reflecting or one memory can trigger other memories as mentioned above. This is when the memory comes in contact with your mind sense door coupled with your perception of the memory creates a sensation which trigger other memories. By practising equanimity towards sensation mindful of their arising and passing as well as anchoring your mind you can gradually cut out this habitual response.

Also see: Madhupindika Sutta

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In terms of how they affect the path, obviously, these are holdbacks. The goal is to get free from them.

Here is the instruction I received from my teacher about this:

In meditation, when memory comes up, do not replay the event that caused the pain. Do not think about it, thoughts don't help. Instead, stay with the pain itself. Feel it in your body. Stay focused on it and get a full taste of the feeling, thoroughly. Then go inside the feeling. Accept it and feel its texture, thoroughly. Despite the pain, go all the way inside until you get out on the other side. Accept. Go through.

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    Thank you so much for sharing that piece of insight Andrei. – Lanka Oct 23 '15 at 17:39

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