Posted by: Bruce Black | May 1, 2018

Remembering What’s Important

“The heart of most spiritual practices is simply this: Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.” – Wayne Muller

How does yoga help us remember what’s important?

It happens unconsciously at first, I think. There’s no flashing sign: “This is important! Remember!” No, it’s a quiet remembering, a kind of awakening, the way the first light of day illuminates the world, slowly changing darkness to light, oh so slowly we almost fail to notice darkness fading and light returning, until suddenly darkness is gone and light lets us see the world in front of our eyes again.

It’s like that when we step on our mat and feel our body again. By “feel,” I mean remembering our body, becoming conscious of our skin, our feet, our balance. On our mat we pay attention to our body rather than simply take it for granted. The rest of the day, as we go through the motions of living, we might lose the connection with (and memory of) our body. But when we return to the mat, we become aware of our body again, the very thing that lets us live.

Slowly, we remember sensations—the touch of our skin against the mat, the feeling of air on arms and neck, the movement of our eyelids as we blink, the feeling of our chest inhaling and exhaling—and we remember with each breath what’s important: this breath, and the next, and the next.

As each of us moves deeper into our practice, we can remember more: the people who might have helped us step onto our mat; the people in our lives who might have taught us to love, to do whatever it is we love doing; the people who instilled in us curiosity and passion and devotion, as well as patience, and a willingness to forgive. We can remember all the things (and people) in our life that are important to us. As we move from one pose to another, yoga helps us remember.

But how does this happen? How does memory return? And why do poses or subtle movements like blinking or lifting our lips into a smile bring us in touch with what’s important in our life? How does yoga help us remember to live our life with courage, determination, perseverance, joy, happiness, and love?

Out of muscle memory, I suspect, comes heart memory. When we move in the way yoga encourages us to move, with self -awareness, with mindfulness, we reconnect to a deeper sense of our selves that is ever-present, and connecting to this deeper sense of self helps us remember what’s important in other areas and aspects of our lives.

As we become more mindful of our breath in each pose, and as we become more aware of our gratitude for each breath, we are led to new feelings of gratitude for the people we love and who love us, and for what we love to do, and for the simple fact of being alive.

Our practice helps us remember not only the blessings in our life but inspires us to express gratitude for each blessing–for each mindful breath, for each mindful movement, and even for the blessings of memory and remembering.

Practice Journal: Sometimes we can lose sight of what’s important in life. But each time we step onto our mat, yoga can help us remember. What does yoga help you remember? Write: 10 min.




  1. A beautiful post, thank you! I especially love the connection you make between muscle memory and heart memory- it certainly rings true to my own experience.

    • Many thanks for the kind words. I love the way yoga can help us make unexpected connections. Writing, too.

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