Expansiveness and Freedom
Rachel Connor on the profound and simple notion of 'soul'.
Alive 10: Soul
Soul, for me, isn’t a place or a thing. It’s a way of being, something intangible but profound. It’s impossible to define, so the word I find myself using is ‘it.’ It encompasses supreme simplicity: it’s a deep connection with something outside myself, beyond the material and the everyday, beyond thought and emotion.
I experience soul when the thinking mind – the one that criticises, compares and complains; all those things that separate us from other human beings – falls away. I’m left with a ‘rightness’ that extends beyond the confines of body, mind and physical surroundings. I recognise when I’m in this state of being: there’s a vibration of pure energy, like a tuning fork singing the perfect frequency.
Sometimes, it takes me by surprise. I can be chopping vegetables or walking down the street and it’s suddenly there, that feeling of connectedness with the expansive universe. My entry into it, though, comes most often when I’m writing or dancing. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about a ‘flow state’ and that’s a good description to sum up the energy exchange of dialogue (rather than monologue) that is encapsulated in ‘soul’.
If I’m disciplined, if I set aside regular times to write and dance, I create the conditions in which this exchange might happen. And there’s the ultimate paradox, because soul is expansiveness and freedom and is also fundamentally everyday. It needs – in fact, is also – the quotidian structure of pattern, and habit and ritual that makes up my life.
Rachel Connor is an author, playwright, teacher of creative writing and a regular dancer of Five Rhythms. Find Rachel here.
This post is part of the Alive blog series. Read more about it here.