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True Freedom

June 16, 2009

What is freedom, exactly?  I’m not talking about the kind of freedom we’ve been taught about in school, like the freedom of our country or our speech.  I’m talking about true freedom, which I believe comes from within us, and can never be given by an external source.

I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when engaging in a particular kind of meditation. The exercise requires a sequence of events to center your attention and breath, an observation of the beauty in front and behind you, above and below you, to the left and right of you, and then within you. Once you’ve reached this place it’s time to think of something you want that you haven’t been able to achieve; a new job, a loving relationship, an improvement in health or well-being, to send some of the pooch on your heiny packing, etc. Once you have come up with something you want, it’s time to push it further, to something you yearn for.

What’s the difference between wanting and yearning?  Let’s say you want to find a new boyfriend. When you push that thought deeper, what you’re really yearning for (probably) is a feeling of love. Or maybe you want to become a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. But what you yearn for is belonging. Usually what we truly desire is a feeling, but instead of assuming we can get the feeling no matter what our life situation is, we turn to external things to help us achieve this feeling state.

So, what does that have to do with freedom, you ask?  Good question. When I did the exercise above, one of the things I  said I wanted was abundant prosperity. That’s the enlightened way to say it.  What I meant was that I want bucket-loads of cash to be dropped off at my front door. And I want the buckets delivered by Italian men wearing only loincloths made of platinum.  But what do I yearn for?  Well, what would having lots of money bring me?  Freedom.  The freedom to do whatever I want, the freedom to travel more, to own more than one home, to write all the time, to make art just for fun.  But the true freedom it would bring me?  Freedom from doubt. Freedom from worry.

What if you could live a life completely free from worry?  In fact, what are you spending, no, wasting time worrying about right now? Really?  I think you’re holding back with your answer. Aren’t you worrying about the economy? The war(s)? The spreadsheet you have due in 17 minutes? That extra slice of cheesecake you ate last night? Why your kids only speak to you through their closed bedroom doors? About the conversation you had last week with your doctor about that funny looking thing on your foot?

I believe true freedom comes from our mind.  True freedom means having faith that every single little thing is going to be fine. Don’t you feel so much lighter and happier when you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “I have faith that everything is fine”?

Okay, okay, I’m not being realistic, right?  What if that funny looking thing on your foot is a tumor, and it’s malignant and you have bone cancer and you’ve only got six months to live and when your wife finds out she leaves you and takes the dog and the credit cards and you’re left with a plaid futon and die alone and miserable behind a dumpster at the local IGA? Well, if you had the imagination to come up with that whole scenario, maybe you should consider becoming a writer for soap operas or something, because that was pretty damn dramatic.

But that’s what most of us do.  We take one little issue, like not fitting into the pants size we want to, or not getting a promotion we thought we deserved, and blow it up into some huge thing. Worry gets us absolutely nowhere.  Name a single time when worrying about a situation helped you feel better or solve a problem. I’m not talking about a gut instinct that tells you to get out of the left hand lane seconds before an 18-wheeler swerves into it; I’m talking about the circles your mind spins in over and over and over.

So what if you have a tumor? So what if you’re going to die?  I’ve got news for you: if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to die. (Um, not from reading the blog, though. Hopefully.) That is part of life. If you have six months to live, you’re probably going to enjoy it a hell of a lot more if your mind is free from worry.  What good will worrying about the future of your loved ones or your finances do?  Absolutely nothing.

So, what do I believe true freedom is? Freedom from worry. Complete peace of mind. A deep knowing that everything you truly yearn for is already yours – you just have to believe it.

I’m going to write more about this subject, but for now I’ll leave you to ponder your own idea of freedom.

Be Joyful!

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