April 6, 2013

Feasting on Freedom. ~ Perrine du Chaffaut

The path to freedom is far from easy or comfortable, and requires a great deal of courage, clarity and perseverance.

The quest for freedom is crucial, because without freedom, the answer to the fundamental, weighty and most meaningful of all questions, “Who am I?” becomes distorted.

Constantly asking questions about the nature of freedom is an entirely beneficial process.

Each one of us as individuals has probably already felt or feels the protective urge to take refuge within a circumscribed and pre-determined framework: I am from such and such country, I belong to such and such community, or my religion or profession is such and such.

This need to belong therefore goes hand in hand with the need to define oneself.

Belonging and defining ourselves can be so very reassuring, as they mean existing and establishing logical connections with other human beings who live a life based on the same foundations; they amount to waving a white flag when entering unknown territory; to fore-arming and protecting ourselves and creating a non-­hostile environment in which our own self-definition can exist in harmony with those of others.

The path to freedom is far from easy or comfortable, and requires a great deal of courage, clarity and perseverance.

Our fears, perceptions, negative experiences, past traumas and failures, habits or social pressures and conditioning or our ego and pride, all take us further away from our free self; they are everywhere, invading our thoughts and actions and cluttering our dreams. And our economic needs and life’s problems are hard facts of life and constitute barriers which can smother or thwart this quest for freedom.

What is more, the lives of human beings have always been structured around a host of limitations, such as social circumstances, competition, the quest for affluence or a lack of authenticity and individuality in the context of mass culture, religion or age.

It is so very normal to be afraid, to have anxieties, to make compromises and to lose ourselves in the crowd.

By being aware of these limitations and obstacles and trying to eradicate them, underused, new or disregarded tools will present themselves naturally: our inspiration, passion or intuition, or our devotion to a given task, our talent or self-­confidence, our gentleness, slowness, solitude and silence, to name but a few examples.

And the vibrations at the very core of our beings can be listened to:

Why do I feel alive or joyful?

In what situations do I feel in my element?

When am I creative, confident, happy, energetic or sensitive?

What makes my heart beat?

By cultivating, stimulating and awakening our being at its source and by fanning the flames of our essence, at the centre of this intimate and so very personal confluence, sincere dialogue with what we are can bear fruit. In this space it becomes possible for us to embrace our unique and pure natures and to be carried forward by the self, replenishing vibrations of clarity, truth and self-­evidence.

This is a personal quest in which each person alone is capable of intuiting what makes up the essence of his or her truth.

Doubts will always be present but they are healthy.

In this quest for inner and outer freedom, supporting, liberating and transforming energy may be found everywhere, within each one of us. Of course, the essence of our individual truth flows endlessly and replenishes itself. It spreads far and wide and is in everything that surrounds us.

In fact, there exists an undeniable, mutual and unifying exchange between a human being—the micro—and the entirety of his or her surroundings—the macro.

As an illustration, human beings cast their gaze on that which surrounds them, and ultimately and ineluctably raise their gaze to the skies, the sun and the universe. And this mutual exchange thus comes full circle, the light of the skies and the sun being reflected in the irises of human beings to the point that they must blink.

In the same manner, by focusing on the quality of the breath, practising Ashtanga Yoga is a means of eradicating our internal obstacles and merging with the absolute. Each ujjayi breath fuels the physical body and allows it to move through the practice and to lift or attenuate the Ashtangis’ physical and personal limitations, offering them the invaluable gift of being able to penetrate a dazzling and unlimited realm of freedom.

To fuel your thirst for freedom, I would like to share with you this wonderful poem, Gitanjali 35, written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1910.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habits;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-­‐widening thought and action –

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.


Perrine draws inspiration from anything that fuels her quest for freedom, personal growth, spirituality and unconditioning of the mind. She is fascinated by life in all its forms and expressions, in humanity and nature. She is an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner and teacher based in London. She focuses on quality versus quantity and the quality of the breathing. She embraces the practice as a flowing meditation and as a way to create freedom, spread joy and happiness, and inspire to go deeper and live our life freely and fully.

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Assistant Ed. Rebecca Schwarz/Ed: Bryonie Wise



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