101: The Feelings of Freedom


There’s the idea of freedom and the somatics of freedom. Today’s episode tackles how and why we should learn to cultivate the sensations of freedom in our bodies. Welcome.




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Speaker 1: Imagine that we became more familiar with the somatics of freedom than we are with the somatics of stress,

Speaker 2: How to make love. Now, is that from recipe or from scratch? This is how to make love. Wow. Oh gosh. Oh my God. Yeah. A little to the left and faster. A show that tests the edges of what love is, worthiness, empathy, beauty, sex, positive, the borders. It can cross how we do integrity in all of our relationships, and its hidden costs and shadows. In a world where we other people,

Speaker 1: Where we build walls, we just tear down walls, fuck finding it or falling into it. Our future depends on making it, Hey, my friends. Welcome back to a show designed to grow your skills, wills, and capacities for making love, courage, and justice. I'm Laura and I'm glad you're here. It's been an unimaginably horrifying past few weeks in our world, and I just want to acknowledge that straight up. It's not going to be the focus of today, and you can read or access my weekly love letters if you're wanting a little bit more of a statement from me on Israel and Palestine and what I personally believe our practice needs to be right now in order to center liberation. I'll repeat the headline of those posts here, which is an unequivocal desire that all people be free from horrific violence and attack and antisemitism and an unequivocal desire that Palestine be decolonized.

Speaker 1: I know we have listeners here from many countries, many faiths, many ethnicities, many identity locations, and I know the statements about any aspect of conflict in Gaza and Israel are not neutral ever, and especially not right now. What's also true, my friends, is that I'm not especially interested in neutrality at this moment of time. I'm interested in all people's, and especially all oppressed peoples, being free, all peoples that includes Jewish and Israeli people being free from antisemitism everywhere and free from acts of violence enacted toward them everywhere and free from hate crimes and free from war, and it also includes Muslim and Arab people in Palestine, their freedom from colonization and domination, their freedom and agency as human beings, their freedom from ongoing violence and domination. May we all bravely extend compassion to all people and want for all people to be free from more and violence and have the courage to demand liberation even when those demands seem insensitive or ill, timed or risky.

Speaker 1: It's a part of the work. Liberation means liberation, and I hope each of you and your loved ones are as safe as possible and that we're all taking care of one another in the ways that we can. Right now, today's topic is in completely disconnected from what I just shared, but it is a sidestep. So today we're talking about freedom, specifically the feeling of freedom, familiarity with a feeling of freedom. As I work with folks in my unschool program and coaching, this topic comes up again. Again, it's hard to pursue something as a goal or as a value if we don't have some with what it feels like at an intimate personal level. So I believe we all have a responsibility to build a personal relationship with freedom, the feeling of it, to learn, to cultivate it, and familiarize ourselves with the various sensations and somatics inside our body so that we can follow those sensations, learn from those sensations so that we know the felt difference between freedom and something adjacent to freedom or something totally different from freedom.

Speaker 1: It's hard to pursue what we don't know, and it's hard to know something we can't feel. Not too long ago we had an episode on the Practice of Freedom episode 87, and that was all about the idea that's central to this podcast, that it's not enough to value something. We've got to learn how to make it in our lives on purpose, and in order to make something, we have to have a practice of it. So that's the thesis of every episode of this podcast really. So to dig into how to practice freedom, how to build a personal practice of it in your life, check out episode 87. This episode today though is like a double click on that topic, practicing feeling freedom, getting to know that feeling, becoming more familiar with the feeling. All of that happens as you practice freedom in your life, and this episode is a little more somatic and a little more specific.

Speaker 1: I can't tell you for you what freedom feels like in your body, obviously, but I can guide you through a few questions to help you explore it. Remember, we should all know what freedom feels like in our lives and in our bodies because every single human deserves to feel and experience freedom, and B, because it's hard to pursue or value or make something we aren't familiar with when freedom is this obscure value or in destination, but not something intimate, it's really hard to know how to make it in the world. So we all deserve to feel freedom and it's our responsibility to do so if we want to be practitioners of justice and liberation. So unsurprisingly, if you're a regular listener, the first place we have to start is defining something. What is freedom to you? How do you define it? That's not an easy question.

Speaker 1: Freedom is complex. It's multifaceted, and there are so many different types of freedom. Freedom from something like freedom from violence or oppression, freedom to something like freedom to express oneself. There's political freedom, freedom of identity, psychological freedom, individual freedom, collective and universal freedom, existential freedom, freedom of our mind from mental strife and constraint and self-doubt, social freedom, economic freedom, and so on and so on. So again, defining freedom can be a bit of an undertaking, but I'm inviting us to think about this. We think about defining love. There's so many types, but at its essence, what's the common denominator? What's the through line? I would encourage you to have a lengthier definition and think on the complexity of freedom at some point in your life, but in this moment, I'm challenging you to have a brief and imperfect definition, one that surely will evolve over time.

Speaker 1: What matters most is that you know what you mean by freedom. You might describe it as agency or ease or autonomy or true choice. You might define it with a sentence. You might define it as the absence of pressure or constraint. How you define it matters less than that. You define it like love. I define freedom a little differently depending on the day you ask. Sometimes I define it as wholeness because if I'm whole, I'm free from externalized or internalized pressure to be anything at all. So wholeness encapsulates a lot of caveats that I'd want to put in place to describe a truly free state of being. Sometimes I define freedom as agency or autonomy. It varies. But take a moment now to think about how you define freedom at this day in your life. The ability to feel freedom begins with starting to define it for yourself.

Speaker 1: Okay, so the next part of this is then to ask yourself and to purposefully get to know what freedom feels like. So for me, what's this wholeness feel like in my body? Because again, wholeness is a part of a synonym for how I define freedom. Again, that's not an easy question. This is a really tough question. Some of us have never felt wholeness, so I'd encourage you to work with a definition that you do have some, even if just a little bit of familiarity with, for me, when I feel I feel wholeness, I feel a sensation of relief in my body. It's almost like a sense of floating or of lightness, like a big deep sigh. I feel my chest relaxed. I take slow deep breaths. There's an internal warmth. I feel. It's kind of like a comforting warmth, something akin to a hug or to feeling sun on my skin, but I feel it inside my body.

Speaker 1: I tend to feel very present in wholeness, meaning I'm aware that I'm not reliving my past. I'm not projecting into the future. I'm just kind of right here. There's also this physical sense of satisfaction. It's like the satisfaction or satiation you feel after a really lovely meal. Now, I may not feel all of those things at the same time, but this is some of what wholeness or what freedom feels like in my body. My mind stops racing. I slow down and I feel some of the things I've just shared. Let's say I define freedom as agency. So again, the task is to ask myself how I define freedom and then what that thing feels like. Agency to me feels like self-trust, aware that when I feel true agency, I feel a sense of at peace ness with myself. I'm not in a state of self-doubt or self-critique or self-questioning.

Speaker 1: The thoughts in my mind tend to be much more calm, more still more spacious. I sometimes feel a tingling in my body with agency or autonomy, like a little buzz of energy that I associate with the emotion and the sensation of self-empowerment. It's like a little hum of something reverberating in my body, but it's calm. It's not erratic energy. It's not stressful energy. It's just a little buzz. I tend to be aware when I feel agency that stress-related sensations in my body are much less present. I feel a little bit more calm. The tightness that I tend to feel in my chest and my jaw goes away. The way that I clinch and hold myself really tightly tends to calm itself. It feels like there's a little bit more spaciousness inside my bones and inside my muscles. But a big thing to remember here is that the more you practice feeling something on purpose, the more you'll become familiar with what the sensations actually feel like in your body.

Speaker 1: But that takes real commitment, and I'd argue it's a very important practice. But if you're feeling overwhelmed, like, Ugh, I have no idea what wholeness or agency feels like as an emotion or as a set of physical sensations, that's all okay. And if you're invested in freedom, it's important that you make the time to begin to familiarize yourself with the sensations that's going to require you to really practice freedom. And I think that's a super good thing. So once you start to identify somatic experiences and expressions of freedom and recognize those qualities of freedom in your body, your job is to move toward those things, to move toward places that ignite those sensations in your body to learn to use those somatic feelings and expressions as like a compass point. If you can learn to do that, to keep moving toward places and thoughts and experiences and people that help the tightness in your chest go away, or that feel warming or that feel peaceful, you will naturally start to build a deeper and more intimate relationship with freedom.

Speaker 1: You may even begin to pursue freedom actively in ways that you haven't before. And that's the goal. As we start to know what something feels like, we will get immediate feedback in our bodies about when we're moving closer to those things or further away from them. We sometimes want to make freedom this very heady or intellectual thing, and we can get into a state of overwhelm and confusion pretty quickly when we do that. But if we have a practice of freedom that involves getting to know what it feels like in our body, bit by bit, our bodies will tell us if we're getting closer or further away to freedom. And as we get closer, as we practice those sensations more, what will happen is that we learn how to cultivate them on purpose. We will learn how to recognize those things and people in places where we feel free.

Speaker 1: We learn how to have more honest conversations with ourselves and others about the conditions that we personally need to feel free in. And eventually we learn how to make, how to cultivate those conditions and feelings and somatics of freedom on purpose, not just in our personal lives or our bodies, but also in collective spaces at work, on teams with community. It can be really, really, really powerful. So homework number one, define freedom and do your best. Your definition will evolve over time. Just put down a few words, what does freedom mean to you? Then number two, think about what that definition feels like in your body. And if you need help, think about when or how or where you experience that definition, and then start to tune into what happens in your body when you imagine being in those places. And then practice using those somatic experiences and feelings and expressions as a compass point in your life, practice moving toward them and practice cultivating them. And the final part of your homework is to let me know how it goes or what questions come up along the way. I'm here to support you in the ways that I can, and you can send me a message directly@speakpipe.com slash Laura Brewer.

Speaker 1: Y'all we're all different. Each of us has different identity locations. Freedom means something different to all of us, and it feels different to all of us in our bodies. So this work is going to look different for you than it's for me. And just imagine a world where many of us know deep in our bones what freedom feels like. Imagine that we became as familiar with the sensations of freedom as many of us are with the sensations of trauma. Imagine that we became more familiar with the somatics of freedom than we are with the somatics of stress. And then imagine that we knew how to cook those things up and those feelings up anytime in any space for the purpose of making freedom. Pretty cool, huh? That's it for today, my friends. Till next time, may you feel all the feels of freedom all up in your body. I'll see you soon. Bye for now.