[Featured in Positively Positive, August 2015]
“Make choices to do things that you might remember.” Sage suggestion from dear friend Dr. Mark Hyman’s grandmother, shared with me on a gorgeous late-day summer hike a few weeks ago in the Berkshires to one of his favourite rivers. It was when I’d commented on the beauty of this hidden gem of a river that he’d offered that to us, and it’s sticking with me.
“You might remember this river, this day” he said. He was right. The grass and branches crackling underfoot, the smell of the brush and the hush of the river just ahead. Then the feeling of the cold, clear water on my feet and the smooth dirt riverbed, then the sharper rocks as we walked; the sun slowly setting painting impossible lavender streaks across the sky. A moment I won’t forget.
Another memory was made soon after that one, a moment that stung, then healed me. The other day my son asked me, “Can you just get happy, Mama?” (I was simmering an unnecessary sadness at the time.) He continued, “when you’re sad, I feel sad too. I can’t help it.”
The memory of taking his cheeks in my hands and thanking him for turning me around is another example of conscious memory-making I’ll never forget. Making memories is a practice, one we can all explore – with the capacity to render us more brave, more present and more willing to try experiences that just might change us, might evolve all of us, and shift our assumptions.
Plus, in my limited experience, the rush of thankfulness and contentedness that accompanies a consciously wrought memory is invaluable.
Each time I’m privileged to teach now, I try to imprint the moment into my memory. Each class, each location, each group of people, whether we’re home or away, leaves a trace of an ancient gratitude on me, and I am deeply thankful for this work. But this piece is about something bigger – one of my most humble privileges to date – co-teaching the Lolë White Tour with two of my earliest teachers, Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee. We’ve taught together at the MoMA in NYC, and now we have a chance to offer our work to thousands on the Great Lawn of Central Park.
The Lolë White Tour, whether I’m teaching in French or in English (!), always leaves a distinct impression on my being. So far I’ve taught in Montréal, New York City and Paris. Everyone is wearing all white – for purity, for peace. New and experienced yogis, families with kids of all ages, yogis young and old come together, to practice and share the space of reverence and listening. Often there is a performance before the class, and there is always live music to accompany our journey. Always there’s an unmistakable familiarity and a silent kindness that envelops us all.
When I sit to offer these sessions, I am first a student of the energy, following and finding my way. And as each session is a collaborative effort, I’ve learned so much about stellar listening from teaching with my respected colleagues and watching their work.
Each time, we come away with an indelible memory that reminds us of why we practice yoga: to accept and align ourselves, to remember the most important aspect of our practice – to bring traces of the peace we create straight home, into our families, our interactions and all our relations. Whether it’s a boundary or an opening that’s called for, your practice will show you how to fashion it and bring a lasting, clear peace to it.
As my dear colleague Dawn Mauricio recently quoted Jack Kornfield at the Lolë White Tour in Montréal, “You hold in your hand an invitation: to remember the transforming power of forgiveness and loving kindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.”