Last week, I had the opportunity to lead a sound bath meditation for a group of women in honor of the new moon in Aries, which begins the lunar month of Nissan. The theme of the event was “freedom”, a focus we are immersed in as we approach the upcoming Passover holiday this month.
The question arose: What is freedom?
passivity of not needing to do anything
activity of ability to do whatever we want
“just another word for nothing left to lose” (Kris Kristofferson, famously sung by Janis Joplin)
On Passover, we eat Matzah, an unleavened flatbread made of flour and water. The prohibition of eating a morsel of leavened bread lasts throughout the eight day holiday. Among other things, this commemorates the haste in which the Jewish people fled slavedom during their exodus from Egypt, leaving no time for their bread to rise.
Flour and water are two seemingly simple ingredients. Plain. Stripped down. Basic. On its own, Matzah doesn’t glare luxurious culinary delicacy. It then relevantly follows that the Jews wandered through the desert - a dry, strikingly bare environment - for 40 years, in order to achieve spiritual purity.
The Maharal of Prague (sixteenth century Talmudic and mystic scholar) writes that this is the essence of what freedom is: Freedom from distractions. Freedom from contaminants. Clarity that allows focus on the essence. The essence of what matters at the core. Consuming freedom of Matzah, and living in a place of freedom in the desert.
Cardamom, honey, rosemary and almonds are welcome. All sounds are invited…maybe not 3am city sirens, but they are present for a purpose. Yet, what happens when we place ourselves in spaces that are free from spices? What do we experience when we separate from distractions and outside contaminants? What happens when we’re met with them again? Where is the balance that we strike?
Living in a space of “freedom” exercises a muscle. It preserves our essence, and prepares us to return to the distractions that naturally lie in our environments. We emerge with strength and new perspective, and are ready to receive the next moment.
Spring cleaning is in bloom. Spring clearing is always in bloom. When we clear, we gain multitudes. Within simplicity, we discover that we contain multitudes. And we recognize that in others.
Let us give ourselves a few moments to strip the layers of the day or night, and live in a space of freedom.
Where is that space for you?
What do you notice when you're aware of it?
What makes you feel free?