The Freedom Paradox

In the US, we celebrated 4th of July yesterday. Perhaps you celebrated somehow, or perhaps it was a more somber holiday than in the past. Maybe this shift in how we experience Independence Day amidst a global pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political climate can give us pause to contemplate freedom.  When felt at the cellular level of the body, freedom isn't total dissolution of structure; it’s structure that works for all of the tiny parts as well as the greater whole. If there is constraint in one part of the body, there is a lack freedom for the whole. The same is true for humanity.  During this time, the lack of freedom is in the forefront of our awareness. Whether it is understanding the lack of freedom that black Americans have experienced for generations, the limited options in our politics, or the perceived lack of freedom we experience with social distancing and travel bans because of COVID-19, we are starting to see that freedom for one must be freedom for all.  Turning to Yoga, Ayurveda, Mindset, and Behavioral Science we can learn to shift our perspective from the individual to the greater whole. Two phrases that I have heard repeatedly relate to this shift in awareness:  1. "Root down to rise up" 2. "Structure creates Freedom" If we are strongly rooted where we are, we can grow with greater strength because we our nourished from below AND from above. Like plants, we need elements of Earth, Air, and Water. We must know where we've come from to know where we are going. Freedom isn't a singular experience, it is established in relationship to other things. We have freedom of movement in the body, not because all of our parts function separately, but because they are CONNECTED. It is because of the interdependence of the bodily structure that we can experience freedom as ease of movement. The same is true of having a daily routine. We really only enjoy our free time when we are supported by the rhythms that allow us to be deeply nourished and fulfilled. Not doing anything or doing things hastily creates inner discord. It is when we have a healthy, well-defined structure that we can thrive the most. Having a known schedule to accomplish certain tasks, mean the time outside of that structure is in fact, free. There is also a freeing of energy that otherwise would be used to decide when and how pieces of each day could play out. With the structure of DINACHARYA (daily rhythms that I teach in the Vitality Circle) we create ease that leads to greater freedom of time and energy.  Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear explains this well: "The Paradox of Freedom:

The way to expand your freedom is to narrow your focus.

Stay focused on saving to achieve financial freedom.

Stay focused on training to achieve physical freedom.

Stay focused on learning to achieve intellectual freedom."  So, cheers to freedom on this holiday weekend, in all its forms. Let's recognize Interdependence over Independence. May you root down to rise up and allow structure to support you to stay safe and healthy. 

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