By Kristen Brunello, Guest Writer and Unique Yoga Events, LLC Teacher
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of freedom. Ever since a life-changing yoga retreat I took at the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, I haven’t been able to let go of the meaning of the word. When I used to think of “freedom” it simply meant “not captive”. And yes, I don’t believe anyone would argue with that. But one thing that the leader of the retreat (Coby Kozlowski – she’s amazing, look her up) said to the group was “we are already free, we put ourselves in jail.”
That blew my mind. You would probably look at me and say with certainty, “Yes, she is free. I see no chains. She can move as she pleases, go where she wants to, do as she feels.” Yet, inside I felt stuck.
Perhaps the idea of not truly being free despite what it appears on the outside isn’t new. I’m reading the book, “Taming Your Gremlin” right now and the author, Rick Carson, touches on the same idea: “I free myself not by trying to be free, but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself in the very moment I am imprisoning myself.”
There are times in my life where I feel my internal freedom is limited; I am so grown and independent but go to a high school reunion and put on the same fake mask I wore ten years ago.
Why is it that I stand in a corner at a wedding with people I have known for years because I am too embarrassed to get on the dance floor, yet on a yoga retreat I can dance my heart out and scream out loud on top of a mountain with a bunch of strangers?
Or, why is it that at times in my life where I have actually had limited external freedom (I spent 6 months in an eating disorder rehab where I was told what and when and how much to eat, how much I was allowed to walk, where to be at what time and with whom) I felt more free to express myself creatively, verbally, emotionally, and physically than I ever had before?
The answer I came up with is this:
I guess it can be argued that there are varying degrees of freedom. But true freedom, at least from my own personal experience, comes from breaking the chains constricting your heart. It comes from taking a deep inhale and giving your mind permission to loosen the grip it has on your heart with your next exhale. You experience true freedom when you believe you are perfect as you are, despite the opinions of others. I believe freedom has nothing to do with how much room to move you have around your body, but how much space you allow yourself to dance inside the boundary of your skin.
Love, love, love. Jai! You’re perfect. ❤
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