Freedom: Choice; Openness; Candor; Free expression; Abundance; Space; Being Fluid & Flexible; Acceptance; Surrender; Playful; Spontaneous; Pleasure; Lack of restriction.
Lack of Freedom: Restriction; Imprisonment; Constriction; Contraction; No Choice; Limitation; Habitual responses; Fear; Stuck; Unworthy; Trapped: No pleasure; No time.
Freedom is a word that comes up a lot. As an integrative Physical Therapist who specializes in total mind-body healing, especially emotional & trauma release from the body, I hear statements like this all the time: “I want to be free of this pain & restriction in my body”; “I want to be free of this issue in my life”; “I wish I could express myself freely”; “I want financial freedom;” “I just want to be free of this pattern in my relationships”. Whether it’s work, health, body image, emotions, you name it, the bottom line is that we want more freedom in our lives. Can you relate?
So what does this have to do with the body? How can the practice of radical body awareness help us gain the freedom we so dearly desire? Simple ….. and not so simple. The body is a map and as a blueprint it shows us where we are free or not free. The obvious ways that clearly indicate a lack of freedom on the physical level are the places in the body that reflect pain, tightness, disease etc. Less obvious is that there is always a corresponding lack of freedom on the emotional, mental & spiritual levels. Often, it is the lack of freedom on these ‘other’ levels that creates the physical restriction in the first place.
Here’s an example. Recently a woman came to my office with pain in her neck and radiating into her eyes that was not responding to “standard” treatment. As we connected with this pain through hands-on manipulation, breath, intention and awareness, it became obvious that she was holding a tremendous amount of fear in this area. On deeper exploration it became clear the fear was caused by repetitive negative & catastrophic thoughts (ie, fear of being in a car crash, fear of being alone, fear of illness). As a result, in her body, she described feeling tight, contracted, disconnected, stuck. She felt her completely shut down, with no feeling of her body, and only aware of her overactive mind. In other words… lack of freedom.
I know how she feels. I understand the body contraction that comes when I get angry or anxious. The body naturally contracts and restricts, when there is pain, disease, fear or judgment at the mental and emotional levels or we feel separated at a spiritual level. This is our sign to pay attention! When we can bring in awareness, compassion, forgiveness and healing at these levels, we open the doors to gain freedom in every part of our lives, including the physical body.
There are many techniques to journey into the body (and a whole subcategory of psychology called body psychotherapy, or somatic psychology), and I use many of them in my personal and professional practice. The results are well worth it! For me, I have found the freedom to be comfortable in my body, to listen and honor what my body is telling me, to be more authentic, to feel free to speak my truth, to feel the deliciousness of loving myself more deeply and a deeper accepting of who I am. Plus, I have learned that when something uncomfortable or “restricted” shows up in the body, it is actually good news. Why? Because by going into the body, we can find a roadmap to our true freedom as we release, reclaim and forgive parts of ourselves that we may have cast aside.
So, back to my client. What do you think happened when we moved into an expanded place of positive and loving thoughts? Try this …. think of something that upsets you and FEEL into your body. How does it respond? Now think of something positive, fun, something you love… what happens in your body? (Is it easier to breath; more relaxed; are your muscles softer?) When I asked my client to do this and speak what was present for her, the first word out of her mouth was FREEDOM!
Yes! When we connect to what is happening in our body we find the freedom we are longing for. By allowing ourselves to slow down, feel inside, embrace what is present, become aware of what is truly going on for us, we give ourselves the opportunity to feel our truth, which then flows into our life. Ah… doesn’t that feel good?!
This is not to say that we are going to feel fabulous during this process of awakening into our Freedom. It is about the process. I know I can be extremely connected and in my flow then something throws me off (someone says or does something, I don’t sleep well, I have pain in my body) and I get off balance. However, noticing the reaction in my body and being aware I have contracted, tightened, feel “off”, allows me to work with, embrace, feel and listen to it. By sensing and feeling my world through my body I am more easily able to assess what is happening to me and how I need to take care of myself.
I have deep respect for body knowledge. When I live my life including my body I feel the satisfaction of living. Most of all, I feel the deep connection to source (mine and Spirit’s) and that gives me tremendous Freedom. To me, true Freedom can only come when we inhabit our body and live a body-mind existence.
Three TIPS to Freedom:
1. Take a deep breath and feel into your body. What are you aware of? Awareness is the first step.
2. Shake your body – shake your body loose. When you stop, become aware of the possibility of more open space inside.
3. Find a somatic or integrative body therapist to work with you specifically with your body & health issues. Remember working with the body towards your desired Freedom is not a “quick fix” but a process over time. The body holds the truth, and sometimes it takes some extra support to get to the core of your healing. You are worth it!