form and freedom

Form and Freedom

Structure or a blank slate?

Tell me, are you the type of person that likes to have a structured schedule with time set aside in chunks to complete the tasks of your day, or do you prefer a wide open schedule with a loose idea of the things you want to get done? In which do you feel more freedom?  

On first glance, a structured schedule may seem more restrictive than a wide open calendar, but have you ever been frozen by choice? I could do all these things, or I could just sit here. 

Have you ever felt like the busier you are, the more you find time for extra stuff? I acknowledge there is a lot at play here, like being unable to say no, or having trouble delegating, or having more responsibilities than there is time in the day. But like, if you’re on vacation with nothing scheduled maybe you just sit around. Or, if you have a few dates to make, maybe you fit in an extra museum or cafe along the way no problem. For the record, both sound like lovely vacations.  

In many ways we are like water

Like water, with no form we spill and spread; with form we flow downstream. With boundaries, creative exploration is possible. With no boundaries, it can all get overwhelming and we freeze. There is freedom within form. 

This idea of freedom within form can be applied all over the place. How do I get myself to commit to something? I create a boundary. If you don’t like it after you’ve tried it for a month, then you can change things up. There. I’ve got a month to explore without the fear that it’s going to last forever. Nothing lasts forever anyway, but knowing that intellectually does nothing for my anxiety. I need an actual time limit. I need a recognizable form.  

The forms within Yoga

The same for my Yoga practice. My one body can make countless shapes. The asanas are body blueprints I build and repeat. Once I create the general shape of the pose by organizing my bones and joints, I can explore it in more detail, and compare and contrast my experience over time. I go into the form, then I experiment, inquire, and feel. I learn so much by repeating the same shapes over and over, year after year. They feel different every time. Within each form there’s a universe to explore.  

It’s the same with the moral and ethical guidelines of Yoga. I can make whatever choice I want with my thoughts and actions. Narrowing the possibilities by staying within the forms of ahimsa and aparigraha, non-violence and non-greed, I can simplify my options, choose, and move on.

Sometimes all I need in order to reduce my anxiety is to make a decision and get going. It’s the felt limitlessness of choice that flusters me. By using a rubric, however holy or arbitrary it may be, I can move forward. That sense of progress, of unstuckness, is freedom to me.

I can be creative if I know the form of my task. If I define no boundary, nothing gets done. 

Image by Dmitriy Ganin from Pexels