Yes. I can see how “scars from the past” can affect one’s mindset. I can suggest a couple of actions.
1. You need to take your mind off those memories as quickly as possible. That must be done whether you are in a formal meditation session or while engaging in other activities.
2. It is unlikely that you recall such memories while you are seriously focusing attention on any kind of task, whether it is work-related or engaging in a sports activity.
– So, try to engage in such activities as much as possible. If you are in formal meditation, quickly turn your attention to metta Bhavana or a dhamma concept.
– Stray thoughts can be dangerous as I explain next.
3. Most people take every effort to avoid immoral actions by speech or actions. There are 4 akusala kamma done with speech and 3 done with actions, as you probably read in the post on the BIG EIGHT: “2. The Basics in Meditation”
– It seems to me that I need to make it about BIG NINE. I need to emphasize the problem of “vaci sankhara”.
4. Actions involve “kaya sankhara” and speech involves “vaci sankhara.” Both types of those become abhisankhara if they involve lobha, dosa, moha. Those are immoral speech and actions.
– However, CONSCIOUS thoughts (even if speech or actions not involved) also generate vaci abhisankhara. They can be as harmful as abhisankhara done with speech. In other words, speaking out or just “talking oneself” with lobha, dosa, moha thoughts both are harmful to a similar extent.
6. Therefore, it is VERY important to stay from silently engaging in generating angry/lustful thoughts. Many people tend to do that because they think “I am not hurting anyone.” But that is not true. You are hurting yourself!
– You can see that clearly in the face of someone who is angry but is not acting out or even not saying a word. But you can see the anger in the face.
– The same is true for someone “enjoying lustful thoughts”. They spend hours “coming up with various actions” that they would like to engage in. That is as bad as engaging in such activities! Furthermore, when such thoughts become strong, one may be forced to take action.
7. What I discussed above is a key component of Anapanasati/Satipatthana Bhavana. Of course, most people don’t realize that. They spend hours and hours just focusing on their breath or some such nonsense.