I have recently returned to a home base after 10 months travelling around Australia with my husband and two daughters and in the process of unpacking I have taken time to reflect on some of the themes to emerge from this journey.
A dear friend of mine commented to me while we were travelling “it must be amazing to be so free” – I was struck by this comment and it sparked much reflection on what is freedom?
Do we find freedom when we take leave of our jobs and daily responsibilities and go on holiday? Do we find freedom in the latest self-help guide? Do we find freedom when our children are grown up and left home? Do we find freedom when we rebel or fight against the systems and structures that seem to confine us?
After my friends comment I took some time to reflect on my personal experiences of “freedom”, in particular to the freedom she may have been assuming comes associated with the travel I had been undertaking.
What I have to say is that while I have experienced beautiful moments of freedom on my travels, I have also felt stuck, constrained and anything but free at times – this is no different to what I had experienced at home. I have resisted a viewpoint, a tantrum, an unexpected challenge; I have felt trapped, resentful, constrained and have looked longingly at the apparent freedom of others and wished I was somewhere else.
It is important to reflect on the idea of freedom because it “fascinates us”, it is something we like the sound of and think we should have and yet we don’t quite know what it is and how we can get it. What does freedom mean to you? Often it is a vague notion but we somehow feel whatever it is that we don’t have it and we become desperate to find it….how do we know if we find it if we don’t know what it is we are seeking?
In the past I have looked to external circumstances to find freedom – concepts such as “financial freedom”, having more help with my children, sometimes I would equate freedom with the idea of not having any daily responsibilities to tend to, or the idea of taking a break from work and going on a holiday. As I reflected I saw that I had also made finding freedom into a fight and felt the need to rebel against structures and systems that I felt served only to confine me.
Did I find freedom by pursuing these ideas? No I did not, instead I often felt more constrained, and more disillusioned about my ability to live a beautiful life.
Through the practice of awareness and being willing to look within and question my ideas it is becoming clearer to me that when we rely on external circumstances to give us a sense of freedom we may experience fleeting moments of freedom but it will never last. Freedom is an internal experience and one in which you alone can create. Freedom comes from awareness and awareness means to see things as they are, for what they are.
We are not used to this concept of freedom and it is easy to think that others may have more opportunity for freedom than we do. Is it true? Can we find true freedom when we look outside ourselves, when we compare our lives to that of others? Do we even know what it is we are looking for? Have we asked ourselves what is freedom?
For me the biggest barriers to freedom are my thoughts and perceptions. When there is resistance and non-acceptance the experience of freedom is not possible.
Freedom to me is:
- An inner state that is not dependent on external circumstances;
- Being here and not somewhere else;
- A sense of timelessness;
- A state where everything seems possible, even without a change in external circumstances;
- A deep sense of peace, like all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and
- An experience where there is no fighting with concepts, ideals or life itself.
What is your experience of freedom?
Does your concept of freedom enhance of detract from your happiness? Do you become inspired by or feel dissatisfied with your life as it is right now?
I invite you to reflect on moments where you experienced freedom – what was it in these moments that made you feel free?
True freedom is an inner experience, it is not dependent on anyone or anything outside of ourselves. Freedom begins with the awareness of your ideas and perceptions about freedom.
I gratefully acknowledge the teachings and support of the One World Academy in guiding me to a greater understanding of the experience of freedom.
This is my “ode” to freedom….
Freedom is to be,
Freedom is to see.
Freedom is feeling your heart sing,
And allowing what each new day will bring.
Freedom is a sense that grows,
As one who cultivates awareness knows.
Freedom is joy, is peace, is love,
Freedom is not below and is not found above.
Freedom is possible – now – for each and every one of us,
With a little faith and letting go of all the outside fuss.
We can search forever, far and wide,
But true freedom can only be found inside.
So make an intent, cultivate a beautiful mind,
And freedom my friend is surely what you’ll find.