“There is freedom within, there is freedom without” – Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House
What does freedom mean? Is it freedom from debt, freedom from suffering (yours or others’), freedom from your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, or freedom from your mask at day’s end? Today let’s explore the concept of freedom within, and contrast that with freedom without.
Many people are stuck in their Manomayakosha, or the Mind sheath of the dimensions of the human being. For my etymology fans, here are the roots of this big ole Sanskrit word: Mano = mind; maya = consists of; kosha = sheath. These people are very DO DO DO…GO GO GO…they are accomplishing things, they are doing stuff. They are unaware of tight hip flexors, their lower back’s existence, and don’t even know they have a sacrum. They are not in their body. Ahem, who’s right there with me? Raise your hands ‘cuz you’re not alone 🙂
This can be a solid place to be if we can embrace our psycho-emotional being without judging or rejecting our thoughts and feelings. We learn to relax more, which creates space for stress reduction. A less-stressed you can surrender to the free flow of subtle energy and optimal functioning of the physical symptoms. (*see below for citation.) Love yourself: warts and all.
Ha! That’s a great thought, but not so easy in practice. In this country, at least, we brag about not taking vacation time for so long we lose it altogether, and about how buuuuuuuusy or how streeeeeesssed we all are. Many of us are sitting in front of screens for hours every day, way more than usual, and using our intellect instead of our feelings, using sighs and clenched jaws instead of our breath, and sitting instead of moving, flowing with life’s rhythms.
Doesn’t sound so freeing, after all, being on that hamster wheel. It is high time to realize you’re not your mind. You’re not your feelings, either. Nor are you your experiences, or the witness, watching the play unfold. Hm. What’s left? We can integrate across sheaths. Briefly, in “order,” they are: the body body, the energy or breath body, the mind body, the psycho-emotional body, and the bliss body. (In “order” to make it easier to understand, but they all permeate one another & it’s not linear. At. All.)
Some of us live for that next day off. How can we create lives we don’t need vacations from?
“Freedom within” for me means that there is time carved out for meditation, for asana (“Yoga” in the Western sense i.e. Yoga classes), karaoke, time with pets, and a good book, and there’s also enough bandwidth left over for #adulting. Bills need paying; bunnies need brushing. This is working within, as in that ever-elusive buzzword of having balance in one’s life. We all have obligations: Society says so! We are working within the constraints of living in said society so we can enjoy its benefits. We need social connections, but not to make fools of ourselves.
“Freedom without” could mean without debt, without a care in the world, without concern for others since we’re working on us. It is a very challenging time to be living through. History is being made on the daily. I often think about whatever’s no longer serving me. What can be let go of, and what I am holding onto, often for dear life.
Let’s reach for Anandamayakosha, or the Bliss Body. (Ananda = bliss). We can tap into this place that encompasses our inherent positive qualities, which are revealed naturally as we shed limiting beliefs. (*see below for citation.)
Paraphrased descriptions for the Koshas from The Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students by Joseph and Lilian Le Page.
If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.