Breaking Free

rule breaker

The following post was written by Liz Beres, a NYC-based dancer; dance teacher; and yoga teacher, certified by The Perri Institute for Mind and Body. Liz currently teaches yoga privately and at various gyms, including that of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY through Plus One. She is continually intrigued by and appreciative of the power of mind/body practices, and is grateful for the chance to share her musings on MindBodyBrew’s digital platform.

In beginning to pack up my home a few weeks ago, I came across Jean Tinder’s Creator Cards on a bookshelf, a deck of cards my mom had gifted me with years prior. Inspired by the thought that every human being is innately divine and serves as the creator of his or her own reality and experience, the Creator Cards are designed to help the bearer move towards clarity, discovering answers that reveal one’s Truth and can lead to choices that match the reality of such truths. Each day I’ve turned over another card and considered its message, as well as its corresponding, longer passage, and each day I’ve been mesmerized by the serendipitous relevance of the day’s reflections to my reality in that moment.

Earlier this week, my card read, ‘What would you choose if there were no rules inside you?’ And so I began to really think, how do we control ourselves – our bodies, our minds, our expressions of ourselves? How many of those regulated choices are unconsciously made, rooted in previous conventions that were set by other people or current or outdated belief systems? The card’s passage suggested that there is another way for us to live–that instead of relegating ourselves to living an unconscious life, we can choose again, and again, and again, consciously.

Curious about what ‘rules’ I may recognize and what ‘rules’ may not live so close to the surface of my consciousness, I attempted to make a list of ‘rules’ I have lived by and still largely live by. I found myself able to identify quite a few, some of which originated in childhood and others that arrived later in my life. Some were tinged with negativity, others with promise. And while it certainly was interesting to configure such a list, I soon found myself finding an alternate route into the exercise–I became much more intrigued by the consideration of what comfort zones and ‘rules’ I feel I currently am breaking out of. As I continue to ponder it all, this other entryway into the realm of rules and freedom seems to be lending itself to a more truthful and rich deciphering of how I have been and how and what I am becoming, consciously.

What are rules anyway? They would seem to be nothing more than invisible barriers that we set for ourselves, out of consideration for our moral, spiritual, and social values. I in no way mean to demean the setting of boundaries, for it can be within and from such clearly delineated lines that we grow. But as more years pass and I delve deeper into my yoga practice, the world seems to grow grayer each day, and amidst that gray emerges an opportunity to dissolve such barriers that bind us and to replace those obstructions with a more porous substance that makes space for tolerance and openness.

There’s such beauty in our ceaseless evolutions as human beings. That evolution is pronounced so vividly for many of us who practice yoga, on and off the mat. I believe too that growth unquestionably can be highlighted and prompted through artistic practices as well. Movement and contemplative practices alike draw out facets of ourselves that are present but less visible, and in learning of these diverse bits of ourselves, we learn how alike we all are; we recognize the ways others’ vulnerabilities are set beside their strengths, and in seeing such contrast in one being, we begin to realize the spectrum of a whole self. Yoga particularly has encouraged me to become more open–to see others, to really listen to them, and to interact on a visceral level based in the truths that showcase themselves. Only with such sensitivity to others’ ways and energy can we act from a more tolerant place and be lucky enough to witness others’ warring strengths and weaknesses.

This summer I have been blessed to be part of a community that is filled with ambitious and fearless men and women. The choices they make on stage and off have driven me to make bolder choices and actions daily; inspired by the way they move through life, I’ve endeavored to let hope guide me, which has, in turn, eclipsed the immense bursts of fear that can overwhelm my path. The courageousness I’ve witnessed in them has showcased how powerful the momentum and motivation of making daring choices that are right for you can be; while challenges often still arise, one truly can become bolstered by such progress.

In her MindBodyBrew Monday Mantra post entitled ‘Desire’, Brianna Goodman wrote:

[O]ften when we view the uncontrollable not as antagonists, but as welcomed events of our grander life story, we discover that our narrowed focus was actually not the ideal—that it prevented us from experiencing all that was at our disposal. A one-track mind is unable to recognize that what it thinks it wants might be nothing like what it actually needs. It seeks a reality that does not exist, a reality that tears our focus away from the reality we should be focusing on: the one that we’re living right now.

To live in the here and now requires, I believe, an incessant acceptance of permeable principles. If we are to meet our inevitably evolving selves, we must then recognize that our world’s ‘rules’ will change, and with that, hopefully, will come a broadening of our knowledge and acceptance of all that surrounds us. This is not to say that we should be doormats or that we should not hold opinions of our own, but is it not possible to affirm our common existence, to remove the feeling of separation and distance between our heart and another’s–as Oprah and Deepak Chopra note in their latest 21-Day Meditation Experience–in order to let abundance flow? Why must we limit ourselves with rules that no longer serve us? Why must we set rules in the first place? If we do set them for ourselves, what purpose do they hold, and how can they be established in such a way that allows for them to be revised in the future?

As human beings, we rise and we fall. We are vulnerable, exposed to natural and man-made aspects of our world that can support us and, likewise, can tear us down. Lately I have realized that in so many ways throughout my life I have lived from a place of fear. Such a way of life is exhausting and not nearly as productive as I’d imagined it could be. While pain is rarely a chosen lane, I am curious about how our lives can change if we choose to live with more abandon. Vulnerability will be ever-present. Uncertainty may reign. But if we choose to live a safe life, cozy inside the walls of our ‘rules’, is there really room for us to make our unique marks on this world? Mustn’t we break out of such barriers in order to learn who we are at our most primal states and from there, cast ourselves out into this unpredictable world we live in to live the fullest lives possible?

Another of my cards this week added a juicy turn to my ‘rules’ card. It read:

You cannot make a mistake, you cannot choose wrong. Every experience is simply another step along your path…when you see the divine imperfection in every choice and in every moment, you are truly free to create your world.

I love the sense of ownership in that passage–the way in which it places our lives in our hands. Yes, there always will be obstacles that jump into our paths that we did not plan for or do not suit our overarching life schemes, but perhaps in recognizing the accountability that we innately possess, we can take greater hold of our daily choices and build our lives to be much more full and fulfilling. And while it would be wonderful to come across less bumps in our life roads, there’s something in the grit, in the exposed edges that exist outside of our ruled realms, that presents colors and flavors that only wrong turns and missteps could create. So here’s to messiness, in your life and mine.

– Liz Beres

2 Responses to “Breaking Free”
  1. Holly Ledbetter says:

    Liz, thank you for this post. My life has been feeling increasingly “messy” and I have been having a hard time letting that be okay. Noticing that “you cannot choose wrong” is incredibly liberating. I am inspired by this post to take a moment, while I drink my tea, or on the mat, to notice and feel gratitude for the fact that I have the power to choose. This realization, while scary at first, is a beautiful one. I especially enjoy your comparison of evolution in life to evolution on the mat. Can we consider the deepening of our choices and paths akin to the deepening of an asana? I’d like to think that in the same way that a new expressions of an asana can be exciting, then challenging, and then rewarding, our continued evolution through life takes a similar cycle.

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  1. […] another fine essay on controlling our lives, “Breaking Free,” Liz Beres offers a unique perception on living in the here and now: she offers that it requires […]

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