Blog: Feeling Free

Blog: Feeling Free

February 1, 2012

As February is the month of Valentines Day the obvious topic for this post is love.

However, it’s also President’s month: honoring our leaders might work. But I thought that taking a moment and reflecting on freedom sort of covered all the bases. February is also African American History month. It’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on freedoms and what we might have become had not the American Civil War been fought. It was a fight for freedoms for all people and a war to ensure the unity of the United States. It was a wretched, horrific war and I can’t imagine living through it. Thanks to those that fought this war, we all share commonly in the blessings that living in United States has given us. The cool thing is that we can continue to expand these freedoms through our new challenges as a nation. Not all is a “perfect union.” As we work to preserve these hard fought freedoms, our awareness of what freedoms others lack increases. Our goal as a nation and as humans is to continue this work of freedom consciousness and to the giving of freedoms to each other.

Reflecting on creative freedom, (since finding creativity is the purpose of this blog), as artists in the 21st century, we often take for granted the freedoms that allow us to perform what we want, compose what we want, write or paint in full self expression. There are laws that govern this freedom and allow us to do this, but what IS freedom? What is it about freedom that we are willing to die for it?

Freedom is one of those basic human rights. It is a feeling that allows us to experience human-ness, to retain dignities and human ideals. We respect freedom and the great power it has, and understand that each human contains this feeling of freedom within.

Swatantrya

In the Tantric Yoga tradition, freedom is a powerful step, a tool in the self-realization process. It’s right up there with breath. In Sanskrit, it is called Swatantrya. It’s basic definition means freedom. A deeper understanding may be described as an experience of expansion within, a removal of self-limiting boundaries, a feeling of extending the soul towards god or a divine spirituality, a realization of the whole and being connected to the universal spirit. It’s knowing that you are a free spiritual being with the capacity to extend this freeness out to others. (Remember how you felt when the bell rang on the last day of school before summer vacation)? This emotional freedom is far stronger and more powerful because it contains the laws of the universe innately. It is something that cannot be bound and controlled and forced from us. A society that tries to govern by universal laws is indeed powerful. Our feelings of freedom from within are so innate, so sacred, so universal that they are our very being and as a society we are willing to protect and perhaps die for the right to have and express them. We recognize them in each other; they are for all people.

Aha!

OK, big step further: a few weeks ago, a harp student came to her own realization that she hadn’t mastered her technique enough to allow her the freedom to work on more difficult music, music that she wanted to play and to play it evenly and with a full sound. We worked on gaining suppleness in her fingers, wrists, hands and arms. That was a break through moment in itself, but the “aha” moment came when we discussed how the technique was a tool to self expression. Once she knew she had the freedom to move her hands as needed within these boundaries (laws of technique if you will) she was able to express more fully what the music meant to her. Her self-limiting boundaries of tightness and forcing melted away. It was her connection to the universal, to the feeling of freedom that gave her music expansiveness. She came to subsequent lessons with an illuminated heart full of joy and ease. When I heard her play at her next lesson I had an overwhelming feeling of being grateful and humbled. In a very tiny way, I had guided someone in their realization that they themselves contain their own freedom. I couldn’t be more blessed or more full. Giving swatantrya, freedoms, to each other feels a bit like giving love….and isn’t that what February reminds us to do?

Wishing you swatantrya and always, always love.

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