My best friend, Alana, and I journeyed to Wanderlust Vermont. Those of you in the NYC region have by now heard various tales from yogi/music friends of yours who made the same journey. There is a unified feeling of what an amazing experience it was. What has amazed me is how the connection of it, the wonder of it, has actually continued to grow outside of actually being there. Like teachings you receive but don’t quite yet grasp, that later reveal themselves when you are ready or when they are needed, Wanderlust has become a continued unraveling of experience. Over the next few months of summer, in addition to my regular post, I will also post one on the continued insights and influences of Wanderlust. For the first:
My first thoughts on talking about the festival were about being in the moment. It started at 9:50am, Friday, on my first day of yoga there. I was on my mat waiting for Rodney and Colleen’s class on the feet, and the woman on the mat next to me got on line to speak to them. For those of you who haven’t yet made it to a conference/retreat/festival/teacher training, at the end students line up to talk to the teachers, take pictures, smile, thank them, give an offering, share a story or insight, etc. It’s like the end of a regular yoga class, but a bit more formal, and a bit more rock star. Traditionally, one waits until the end of his/her class to approach the teachers… but not this yogi. She was going to start the experience off by getting in line for the class that was finishing before ours. Returning to the mat next to mine, holding her smartphone, she suddenly exclaimed to me that she could not yet Facebook the picture, as she had wanted to, because she was supposed to be at work! I was not quite sure how to respond (not using Facebook myself, I figured there was probably some sort of common response I could make, but was completely unsure what), so I smiled, nodded, and went back into my own space.
Later that night, at the Andrew Bird concert, people had their phones up from start to finish. Same thing the next night at Michael Franti’s (wow!) show. They watched the entire show through their phones. At Michael Franti’s concert in particular, when he moved out into the crowd, people were so excited about his nearness, that they instantly held up their phones to document. The very act distanced them as clearly as if he were again back up on stage.
It reminded me of the quote by Chief Seattle on travelling: “Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.” Can we take memories, without taking documentation of them? Or perhaps even more importantly, can we take pictures; can we make memories, without needing to immediately share them? What happens to “memory” through the distance of a recording device? How much of a memory is it really, when it’s turned around so quickly to others?
In yoga, every experience creates a samskara – a groove – a psychic record of our very own. In neuroscience, I believe they have a similar idea of how nerve connections function in the brain, creating patterns based on our actions (thought, said, and performed). Unlike actual records, our samkaras are changeable, given enough intention and time. I wonder if by immediately documenting and sharing every noteworthy (and even not-so-noteworthy) event, we’re cheating ourselves of the chance to set a deep groove, or to switch an old one to a new track. We miss the opportunity to allow the experience, the moment, to settle in and be just ours for awhile – and all that can come out of that kind of incubation.
Realistically, and honestly (I did take a few snapshots of my own, and have been checking out some videos posted on line- if you watch this one, you can catch a brief glimpse of me in tie-dyed pants in the acro yoga class), smartphones, tablets, facebook, twitter and everything else we have that has encouraged this new shift in experiencing is not going anywhere, and nor would most of us ask it to. Could we, instead, start on the trek towards creating the guidelines that will keep us in control of our technology? Could we consider yoga as an inspiration?
I suggest that every time you mentally reach out to document and share, pause. Consider: How much will this take me out of the present moment (including being present with the people I’m with)? How necessary is it that it happen now? And then opt, as often as possible, to give the experience time to settle in and be yours, before it becomes everyone else’s.
In my teacher training, I remember David and Sharon, or perhaps it was the mentors, give us the advice not to be so concerned with writing down in our manuals everything that was said. They advised that we receive the teachings, and trust that they would be there, in us, when we needed/were ready for them later. That’s a lot of trust.
I think we’re in danger of losing this trust in ourselves – to just receive the moment, just hear, just feel, just see, just taste, just laugh, just be, and trust that it will all be there later, when we need it, when we’re ready for it.