Many children use string to make friendship bracelets for one another. It’s a sign that she or he cares for the other and is tied to them. Sometimes these bracelets are made for oneself, when a wish is made and will come true only once the bracelet falls off of its own accord.
In Laos, white strings are tied onto someone’s wrist in a baci ceremony. It’s believed that the string holds an individual together, body and spirit. These ceremonies celebrate happiness and gratitude, but can also be held to help strengthen an ailing individual. Sometimes left on until they fall off, these strings work as a symbol of commitment. You can read more about baci ceremonies here.
Though I haven’t been to Laos, I have been to Honduras. While I was there in 2011, for the first time, I exchanged friendship bracelets with several of the girls at one of the orphanages. Even though I do speak Spanish, it was a way for us to communicate beyond language. It was a simple gift that said, “I’m thinking of you, you’re thinking of me, and we’ll remember each other.” These bracelets commit friendship, and everything it entails, to memory.
When I returned from Honduras that summer, I was looking for my next adventure. It turned out to be the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. I’d never run 13.1 miles before, and I knew training would take a lot of confidence and commitment. I made myself an anklet. I kept it on throughout the summer while I trained, and my commitment paid off when I finished my first half marathon. The anklet fell off sometime after the race, but I have kept it as a reminder of what I can accomplish.
A few weeks ago, I decided to make another anklet, this time for the yoga teacher training I will journey through this summer. I gave the specific colors some thought this time around. I chose yellow, green and violet: yellow because it’s a happy color, associated with intellect and energy; green because it’s my favorite color, the color of nature, and associated with health and wholeness; violet because it’s a spiritual color and I hope to go where God leads me. Colors are important in many traditions, including the chakras, and have been studied in psychology. Though I don’t necessarily give much credence to the power of color, it can’t hurt, right?
I think we use circles – like friendship bracelets or wedding bands – to symbolize commitments because these commitments never truly end. I’m committing to go through this training not just to reach graduation, but as a promise to continue on in my practice afterward, and hopefully spread that beyond myself in whatever form it will take.