By Liz Antognoli, E-RYT 500, Ayurvedic Health Educator
Freedom. This quality is often at the forefront of our minds during the month of July. We get out our flags and our fireworks and post about how wonderful it is to have less limitations imposed on us by our country. While I wholeheartedly agree that options are better than forced ways of living, I think we shortchange ourselves by stopping here. We are blessed to live in a country that does provide much freedom; however, with this as our foundation we have the ability to take freedom much, much further.
The next level of freedom is inner freedom, a deep desire I believe we all share. This deep desire for inner freedom is what initially drew me to the study of Ayurveda and yoga. It is typically the connecting bond between all of us who seek out yoga, regardless of what we seek freedom from. For me, I had lived primarily from a “have to” approach and I was burning out on life. To be free for me in that moment, was to learn how to silence the outer world long enough to discover what I really wanted.
This led me to begin a long journey of the study of yoga and Ayurveda which happily continues today. Ayurveda, translated as “the science of life,” is referred to as the sister science to yoga because it informs how you individualize your study of yoga as well as how you approach your life overall. Using the teachings of Ayurveda leads to true freedom.
The definition of freedom offered by Merriam-Webster online is “the absence of…constraint in choice or action.” This is accurate in one sense – we are “free” to choose from a larger number of options. However, what most of us are seeking when we say we want freedom is not necessarily that we need more options but instead that we want the ability to effectively manage our options to create more of what we want. Consider the question, “What would I do if I were totally free?” Perhaps your answer was along the lines of “I would travel,” “I would go back to school,” “I would spend more time painting.” We technically have the “freedom” to do this at any time. However, we may lack the ability to bring those experiences to fruition.
Ironically, what will manifest these experiences is a series of effective choice making in our lives. It is the ability to focus, discern, and eliminate the non-productive choices to experience a desired outcome. It is “limiting ourselves” more on the choice level, to liberate ourselves more on the grand scale. For example, by “limiting” the majority of our choices of what and how we eat to the nutritious and supportive, we may be quite free physically through the experience of health and well-being. To say we are “free” to eat low-nutrient foods and to the point of feeling stuffed is true but is severely missing the point.
Whatever we seek freedom from when we begin yoga, we eventually discover through our practice that these experiences are simply outcomes – outcomes of choices we have made over time, either consciously or unconsciously. Ayurveda offers the knowledge and wisdom we need for effective choice-making that leads to freedom. Additionally, it expands self-awareness such that more of our choices become conscious. Ayurveda teaches you how to distinguish your individual mind-body type, which you can then use as a consistent guide for moment-to-moment choice making. It is truly our choices that lead us to freedom or to bondage, and Ayurveda is the ultimate teaching in choice making!
Join Liz in her next Ayurveda Workshop this Saturday at 1:00. Click the image below to learn more and register.