Freedom definition: the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants — the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
We are creatures of habit. Homeostasis requires it. Too much shock too quickly can be fatal to our existence. Conditioning (the effects of other people’s habits on us) informs our thought patterns even when we have made the subconscious conscious.
Freedom implies a sense of open space and movement and the ability to know the broadest experience without being impeded by known parameters. Freedom is not only going it alone, it is ascertaining how much of our past we are carrying with us as unresolved baggage and learning to integrate what cannot be healed or dissolved. Freedom then, is a kind of exploration.
This type of attitude — the desire to live in freedom — requires courage, curiosity and a strong sense of self-generated balance or equilibrium. Any mind-body practice to this end is not only an in-the-moment reward of its own in terms of feeling better mentally and physically, it has obvious wider implications related to our interpersonal connections and the fabric of our communities.
The insidious destructiveness to relationships that stems from personal incongruence or internal disharmony can be minimised when we begin to actively clear the residue that is revealed during periods of awareness. Recognizing our tendencies and intellectualizing their effects on ourselves and others is not the same as being present to the somatic memory of their instances. In other words, mind cannot always use mind to untangle itself and get a fresh perspective.
It is then, not so much a question of why we habitually behave or react the way we do, more a question of how and of what is required in order to stop running the same program over and over and further cementing the groove or psychological imprint (sanskrit:samskara) that we find ourselves stuck in.
For inspired epiphany and the related change in perspective and reality to occur, we must set aside the thinking mind for sufficient enough time as will allow us to feel our experience, to let the body converge with and further inform the mind. True cognition, the type that fundamentally alters one’s understanding and experience (Latin ~ cognoscere: get to know) requires filtration time.
The body is offering up gifts of information all the time so we might effectively adjust our behaviours and thoughts to align with its needs. When only the most dramatic of signals makes us pay attention, we have already accrued a backlog of residue — pain and discomfort in the body are the equivalent of our body shouting at us to take notice. The subtler signals, the energy levels, the finer sensations — can only be utilised when we learn to hear and then interpret them. This kind of deep listening, when done regularly, leads to an intuitive knowledge of self that aids any analysis and supports true integration where mind and body are both in full agreement. In this state of harmony, we are naturally more resilient and able to welcome new experiences on their own merits and with clarity. A body full of residual tension and discord cannot balance its own requirements well with that of others; it is simpler then, in this case, that they use logic and analysis to understand their human interactions. Because we are not mathematical equations to be calculated but are instead, soft, emotional, animals to be connected with and loved — there is a need for heartfelt flexibility which is so often inaccessible to the one managing the past within their body. Disconnection frequently occurs resulting in the triggered reaction of a wounded animal.
In terms of successful relating with others where all parties involved feel heard and understood — it is essential that we use the guidelines of our physical experience to inform our communication content and style and to interpret the responses of others. In a virtual world, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain in awareness at this level of finesse when we have only symbols on a screen and the speed and frequency of interaction is beyond our grasp to fully assimilate. Without the energetic frequencies that only our bodies’ can comprehend, we are relegated to interpreting using only the mind — the body, our most sensitive instrument, gets attuned to our thoughts about the communication we’ve received without being able to calibrate against the other person’s tone, pitch, body language or energy, our somatic calculator is rendered almost useless.
The shifting of residue never stops while we are alive because the experience of living is carried out via the vehicle we find our consciousness housed in — the body. Shocks, surprises, grief, frustrations, and sadness all leave traces of their happening within and upon us. The more closely we know our bodies, the clearer we become about where and how much our equilibrium is being disturbed by any event we encounter. When we know better, we do better.
But being well-informed is only a partial win. Being able to embody your emotions without resorting to shutting down of one kind or another predisposes you to empathy, honesty, and clarity with others if backed up by sound reasoning and good intentions. Protectiveness of self is usually misguided as there are not many who wish to cause us harm — it leads only to alienation and more disconnect.
In terms of society and community, it is clear to see how being led by the body can offset the coldness or lack of humanity that sometimes accompanies conceptual explanations or logical analyses. When humans feel genuine connection, they are normally amenable to each other and an attitude of service and cooperation is more likely to prevail.
Freedom could be described as the ability to enjoy oneself without conditions. Paradoxically, the strength required to do this entails certain conditions or disciplines be adhered to, namely to remain steadfast in awareness, intention, and appreciation — if brought down to basics. If expanded on — to follow a variation of the eight fold yogic path. Realising that other people’s behaviours are the swiftest route to identifying residue or sticking points within us that feel sensitive, frees us from victimhood and control-freak tendencies where we feel we must regiment others in order to keep ourselves safe and happy.
The cyclical practice of right action as described in Buddhism, Yoga, Taoism and other ancient awakened traditions, has the power to keep us in momentum and evolving. While we continue the physical practice of identifying and shifting residue on a physical level; learning and responding to the language of the body, we remain stable, healthy and strong enough to really enjoy the freedom we desire.