The Nostalgia Problem

Jun 30, 2021


June can be a nostalgia-inducing month for parents because of transitions like the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. 

Turning points like graduations, weddings, and in my case my 14 year-old’s birthday and her first summer job, can also pull me into wistful memories of childhood (hers and mine) at this time of year.

I have mixed feelings about nostalgia.

On the one hand, it’s an attractive place to hang out. It can be comfortable to reminisce about sweet memories, life-defining moments, and experiences that have shaped who we’ve become.

At the same time, nostalgia is inherently problematic because it’s a state of longing for what was and is no longer. It’s defined as "homesickness," a “sentimental yearning for a return to the past.” 

​It’s a type of memory that can cause us to remain stuck in our limited identity as defined by our childhood, culture, and family.

While yoga beckons us to create ourselves anew and break free of limited ideas of who we think we are as defined by our past, nostalgia can hold us back from that expansive and liberating shift. 

It creates a tension whereby part of us wants to live in the past, while another part is ready to expand beyond the confines of our small self.

I don’t have a definite answer about how to resolve this, but part of it may be to ask:

How can you use nostalgia as a way to understand yourself, without getting caught in the suffering that can come from yearning for the good ‘ol days that can no longer exist?



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