What is Freedom for You?

Happy Easter, and I hope those of you that celebrate it, had a good Passover. 

In Passover, we celebrate freedom. Freedom from slavery. Most of us are fortunate never to have experienced that in our century in the western world.

When in your life did you feel most free?

A question I asked at our Seder meal and to others this week. With some interesting answers. Some people felt most free when they’d left their home, setting up on their own. The first time, able to live their lives the way they wanted to. Other people when they’d moved country. When they felt no longer bound by the traditions of their society, but not having to live another.

What these two varieties of answers have in common, is that it’s when these people were able to live in their own way. Unimpeded by tradition, or society. They felt able to work by their rules, work out what those rules were.

I empathise with the latter, it’s what I felt when I lived in Holland. I wasn’t Dutch, so whilst I needed to respect their traditions, I didn’t need to follow them to the letter. It was definitely freeing to not be judged as soon as I opened my mouth as well. What I said was more important than how I said it.

“The truly important learning is to be able to do the thing you already know in another way. The more ways you have to do the things you know, the freer is your choice. And the freer your choice, the more you’re a human being.” – Moshe Feldenkrais

Feldenkrais felt that Freedom came with an ability to do things in different ways. Having only one response to a situation, in his mind, was compulsion. And that we needed at least three different ways to be truly free.

An idea that doubtless sprang from his religious training. In Jewish bible study, those who learn have to argue many different points of view, from the same text. Taking on board differing opinions from different experts through the ages.

Part of this is to help understanding. In a Feldenkrais lesson, we practice making movements in different ways. So we can experience the difference that each decision brings. Over time that can help us find or improve our individual creativity. It can help both our thinking and emotional patterns to be less habitual and less inhibited.

From there we have more power, more agency in what we choose to take on. Rather than being told what is right, without the option of choosing it ourselves.

Freedom of movements, with elements of choice bring us agency. The ability to do something about the situation we’re in, even when we can’t see it in the first place. My students do this on their mat first, in a physical, three dimensional way. And I see time after time, that this feeds into the other arenas of their lives.

Mary’s Story

Mary (we’ll call her that) was one of my first students when I started teaching classes in Waterloo. She was a regular, there week in, week out, which I appreciated. And she spread the word, tried to get her friends to join her. They didn’t, but I was grateful for her effort. She wanted to do classes to improve her health and wellbeing with her friends, so she kept asking. When she first started, Mary didn’t feel flexible. She felt clumsy and clunky. She’d tried yoga, and pilates, but felt uncomfortable and anxious doing them.

After a year, maybe 18 months, she told me she was leaving. I was sad to see her go, we’d got to know each other. But what really pleased me was that she was leaving my sessions to join her friend in a local yoga group. She had improved to the point where she felt confident about herself in ways she hadn’t before. She enjoyed moving. And felt less anxious about herself too.

Join us for the last lesson of this term tonight, or next term!

For more details go to the Classes page.

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