Exercising real freedom by how we choose to think
At this “celebrating freedom” time of year it’s worth considering, what is real freedom to you?
Freedom is often thought of as license to do whatever you want when you want, a much sought-after circumstance and huge driver in our quest for financial independence. But we can be independently wealthy and still be imprisoned by inner dogma and negative self-talk. Freedom is an internal experience. The most vivid (and chilling) example comes from a man who by losing all of his human rights and privileges discovered the most important kind of freedom, one that no one can take away.
At the moment of his epiphany everyone that he loved had been murdered and the manuscript that had been his life’s work had been burned in front of him. Viktor Frankl, a Viennese Jewish psychiatrist, was stripped naked—standing in front of a German tribunal in a Nazi Germany concentration camp. One of the guards noticed that he still had on a thin gold wedding band, the last vestige of his life as a free man. The guard demanded his ring.
When Frankl went to remove it from his finger he realized that no matter what his Nazi captors took from him they could never take, “the last of the human freedoms,” his decision about how this was going to affect him. Between what happened and how he responded was his power to choose.
Frankl saw that the meaning we give each event or experience determines how it impacts us. More importantly, he recognized that by choosing his own meaning he could become freer than his captors.
“I realized that there was nothing they could do that could cause me to live in hatred unless I chose to, and I grabbed hold of it. Do what you will. I created a piece of heaven in my mind and in my heart and there I dwelled.”
No matter what kinds of external freedoms are earned or granted it is only in the exercising of our inner author(ity) that we feel true liberation. Asking ourselves, “What would love do here?” helps us access the freedom to live in love no matter what anyone else does or how volatile our lives may seem.
Independence Month is a great time to emancipate yourself from any thoughts, beliefs, behavior patterns, or even physical stuff created by your “former self” which no longer serves you.
For instance, my friend, Ann decided at fifty-two to stop coloring her hair and go grey. “I feel incredibly free.” And she radiates!
Dropping into your new identity (for fun, find a name for your Inner Super shero) and ask her if is there anything she would like to stop or start doing that would give you a sense of freedom? Anything you would like to let go of?
Example: During a Restorative Yoga Retreat last week, Susan received a message from her Inner Super sHero- TigerLily to box up all of the books lining her bedroom, in order to create more restorative spaciousness and to increase the trust in her own wisdom and inner guidance. Acknowledging the message, Susan swiftly packed up the books and re-decorated the shelves with flowers, artwork and her own Inner Vow Statement. She immediately felt a newfound freedom and attunement with TigerLily.
Creating more openness (physically, mentally and emotionally) contributes to heightened receptivity and space for grace– powerful feminine qualities.
Select one or all from this list:
Physical level: check your storage area or closet!
Emotional level: An old feeling?
Mental / spiritual level: An outdated belief, expectation or constricting ego pattern.
(Alternatively, instead of letting something go you could take on a new way of thinking like Viktor did)
Please let me know what you are letting go of!