Psyche by Holly Sierra
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reminded/inspired from Warrior Writers
Serenity: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled [as told by Webster]
Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.
Combine these two definitions, and Subtle Freedom is formed.
My journey into Subtle Freedom began when I was 17. It did not begin with a Yoga asana practice or meditation but rather at the moment when I decided to get to know myself. It began with years of crying, writing, sketch drawing and journaling. Those years led me to my Yoga practice, which deepened my understanding of myself and helped me get to know my body. Getting to know my body has led me to the feeling of subtle freedom and cultivating spirit energy.
There is a humble freedom in a yoga asana practice. This humble freedom is felt only after releasing tension and pent-up emotions. This release is subtle, and happens seemly spontaneously, the moment when your breath is evenly inhaled and exhaled, when mind and body work simultaneously. The moment is quiet – mind and body – and in silence a realization is forming in the unconscious that in time reaches conscious thought.
A previously unconscious notion is that the body functions on its own, as does the mind. Thought and emotions have a purpose for our survival. For the mind and body to work in homeostasis, we must let our thoughts flow without holding on to them, repress or suppress them either, but to experience them, letting them run the course nature designed for them. This is called surrendering.
Surrendering is part of the process of releasing emotions and pent-up thoughts. Surrender is as simple as breathing – breathing as you bend with discomfort, pain, and loss. It is all in our breath which helps us move and bend.
It took me nearing a year and half of yoga to really understand what it is meant to surrender. I feel the Subtle Freedom in moments of silent thoughts more and more, lasting longer and longer. I am understanding now what it is meant by a freedom in yoga. The quiet feeling of peace should not be felt only on a yoga mat or during meditation. It should be felt, always.
To feel the subtle freedom is to first empty yourself of thoughts and pent-up emotions, because they take up space and energy in the body. To release them they must be experienced – not held onto or ignored – but really experienced in a natural flow, even if it results in sobbing or shouting. It will pass, and when it does, and emptiness is felt, and that emptiness is where freedom is to be cultivated – serenity is forming.
After the release, you will be in tune with your body. You will begin to feel the current of energy run through you, beginning in the pelvic bowl, making its way up through your core, a slow journey to the crown of your head. It is subtle, yet intense, tingly, a tickle, yet prickly like a needle. At times it can feel like a ripping, particularly in an area where repressed emotions reside (lower back, chest, between shoulder blades, temples), but let the sensations flow and always remember to breathe – just breathe – as you move through the discomfort, bend with the pain, and truly surrender. Become empty. This is subtle freedom. This is your body and mind working simultaneously. Breathe, and let it flow. Surrender into this subtle freedom, when cultivated, that will be with you always.
Repeat this mantra for encouragement when those patterns of thought taunt you and want to defeat you, when you feel a resistance in the body. Repeat:
Breathe. Flow. Surrender.
Breathe. Flow. Surrender.
Breathe Flow. Surrender.
A warrior’s heart, a gold metal athlete’s self-determination and strength, is a step to Facing Every Aversion Righteously, into serenity – Subtle Freedom.
Subtle freedom is not only cultivated through the Western view of Yoga, nor the Vedas or strictly religious and ritual means. Subtle freedom can be cultivated in the actions and thoughts you choose to take in your daily life. The choice is yours to change your thoughts and patterns of behavior. It is a process, and it will not happen over night. The Buddha did not change over night, it took over 11 years for him to reach his goal of enlightenment, and that is only after he left the security of the life he always knew. Through many trials and tribulations, beginnings, stopping, starting over, losing followers and friends, self-judgments, and meeting death (partnering with death), he found the path and way to reach the so-called nirvana. And once he reached nirvana, he did not give in to death’s immortal embrace, but instead befriended death, and returned from the depths beyond unconscious, to teach the way of life for the next 40 years. He was middle aged by the time he reached the point of nirvana, and he never did state how he did it. Just the path to follow, and the means, that is within us all. He never spoke of what he really saw, only how to get there. And the how is through living a pure life, with a pure heart, not manipulated solely by the environment without us, but through our inner strength, to surpass our minds manipulations. It is having a warrior’s heart, and a gold metal athlete’s determination and strength – within and without – that will push you through the patterns of thought and behavior, brought to us by our heritage.