The body: a cage, or an agent of freedom?

I have so much fear in my heart. I’m afraid of being not good enough, of not having enough, of never reaching the fullest potential of a human being. I find myself lonely in the space of so many people – feeling a disconnect in my own soul that manifests as disconnection with others. Truly we can not find fulfilling relationships until we’ve reached deep into ourselves and found the light that dwells there – this is how we become one with others – as the word “namaste” describes. But how else does that connection manifest? When we are channeling through the highest form of ourselves, how does that affect our actions and our contributions to the world?

Sometimes we say or do things that surprise us. Often artists and musicians describe some mystical creativity that seems to have not come from their own mind – their ego-clouded, earthbound mind – but from a space beyond their comprehensible reality. “The song almost wrote itself”, “It just came through my brush onto the canvas”, etc. We have no memory of premeditating our actions, they just happen. And this is when we are completely present in the moment, when we are connected to that powerful and sacred place of all-knowing, all-being life: the place that connects us both to God {insert “Universe”, “the cosmos”, “nature” or your choice of divinity here} and to each other in the purest and most satisfying way. This is the universe realizing itself through us: this is when we find our purpose, this is when we know why we are here.

The body is both a sensory vessel and a tool that we can use to connect to this place. We are animals, and so we have base desires that require careful and consistent mediation. However, when we can push past the fear of relinquishing the body (it is, after all, only a temporary fixture), we can begin to allow our awareness and our light to shine through. If we are hungry, we fuel the body with nourishing sustenance. If we feel sexual desire, we ask if it is truly necessary and good. If we feel tired, we find balance between rest and lethargy, knowing that if we are treating our bodies right, we will have enough energy when we need it, and otherwise to allow a space for “non-doing”. We condition the body so that it is a sound instrument for a greater truth or power to speak through us. If we fail to do so, the body becomes like a cage, and we are slave to its constant acts of primordial desire, physical and emotional longing, bad habits, and overall heaviness of being.

After many years of being an unwilling servant to my body, fighting it and loathing it along the way, I realized that it can be a sacred space where we find peace and enlightenment and therefore came to love and appreciate it, and all its “flaws”. We can use the body like a rope or toehold to climb out of a deep crevasse and see out into a world beyond our own. Yoga has taught me so much about my own tendencies and given me tools to overcome it. Standing on my head was one of the most overwhelmingly freeing things I have ever done. A simple inversion turned my whole world upside down, in a very good way. It was like I’d always been looking down at the ground, and changing my perspective allowed me to see the sky. I felt empowered; by overcoming a seemingly impossible physical limitation I realized that I could actually change my mental and emotional state, and therefore my entire life. It was magical. The journey was painful and frustrating, and it is far from over! Next challenge: bringing the headstand off the wall. I have fallen several times. I keep trying. And similarly there will always be days when I feel lost, lonely, scared, and not good enough. But just like in yoga, I will get right back up, engage my core, push harder, reach higher, and burn brighter. The universe wills it. And in recognizing when to push harder and when to surrender, the latch opens by itself and we are set free.



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