To be free as a human being is to have the capacity to be with everything life brings to us.
That statement holds the key to your peace, your sense of adventure, your joy, your ease, and of course, your freedom.
But in its current form, it’s a little obtuse — kind of like a fortune inside the proverbial cookie. So let’s nuance it out a bit.
When we start looking for Freedom, we want freedom from all of the things that ail us. If we feel overwhelmed, we want freedom from the overwhelm. When we’re confused, and upset about the feeling of being confused, we want freedom from confusion and upset.
We believe that if we could just eliminate the experience of confusion, overwhelm, upset, anger, hurt, disappointment, etc., from our lives, then we would be truly free.
We feel the obvious truth of this belief on a visceral level.
When we feel confused and overwhelmed, it is so damn obvious that it is what is causing us pain and suffering. And so there couldn’t be any doubt that removing the presence of that confusion and overwhelm would finally, finally, give us the freedom we are desperate to experience.
Our life then becomes about eliminating any instance of what we cannot be with. If anger is the cause of our suffering, then our life becomes about removing all traces of anger from it. This quixotic quest becomes the work of a lifetime.
Any trace of anger you find within must be stamped out. Any trace of anger you experience in someone encourages you to move away from them (or starve, kill or neuter their anger so it can no longer survive in your presence). As you stamp out this anger, you start to experience glimpses of the freedom you crave. Moments where you find a space free of any anger and can, just for that moment, actually take a breath undisturbed.
But as time goes on, rather than finding your peace and freedom more expansive, it seems to become ever more tenuous.
This kind of freedom can only ever be tenuous and fleeting, because it is fundamentally about shutting down the abundance of life.
If your freedom is rooted in a need to eliminate some aspect of life (anger, overwhelm, confusion, sadness, etc.), then your strategy is ultimately about constricting the flow and abundance of life. Given that life is fundamentally abundant, this approach is a little bit like putting a lid on a pressure cooker without a release valve, and hoping you’ve solved the problem.
This type of freedom is predicated on the idea of “Freedom From” something.
A more abundant context for freedom is “Freedom To”. The Freedom to show up and be however you would like to be in your life, regardless of your circumstances.
This context for freedom opens you up to the abundance of life.
From this context, when you are presented with anger, overwhelm, franticness, frustration, and so on, instead of needing to eliminate them, your practice becomes about finding your way back to peace in partnership with that which you cannot be with.
Instead of becoming toxins that must be eliminated from your life, those things that you sought to escape from become your greatest teachers — your most potent medicine.
Down this path, your question stops being “How do I make this go away”, and instead becomes, “How can I let this thing be. And how can I be with it?”
You stop seeking to remove any part of the glorious abundance of life, and instead, seek to create harmony with it.
You breathe, and you notice how you restrict, close off, and make scarce for yourself the very experience you want more of. And then you practice opening up, in the face of those things you formerly ran closed and from.
As you practise this way, over time, you discover that if you can let something be, it will let you be.
How long do you need to practise this for? For precisely as long as you feel the need to make something go away.
And once that constrictive need dissolves in the ocean of your being, you will discover a level of freedom you never knew could have existed.
Welcome to the abundance of life.