What is freedom? Many times the first thing that comes to mind is physical freedom. Extremely important, yes, but just because your body may be free does not mean that you are mentally free. Many of us are prisoners of our minds & the self-created shackles & prison cells that bind us- pains of the past that we keep reliving in our heads, anxieties & fears about a future that none of us can control no matter how much we worry about it, holes in our hearts & souls longing to be filled with love & acceptance but often being filled with unhealthy addictions instead, obsessive judgement of ourselves...Am I smart enough, successful enough, attractive enough, GOOD enough? Am I? Am I? Am I?
Do you know that it's possible for an imprisoned person to be freer & more at peace than a person on the street? I read this article a couple years ago & it has stuck with me ever since...how an extremely successful (at least by society's standards) man only truly found "life" behind bars. It is fascinating (& nauseating) on many levels... http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2013/09/michael-lewis-goldman-sachs-programmer
So how can we truly be free? It's so simple & right under our nose that we completely overlook it. It's this moment. Right NOW. & it's always NOW, right? Why is freedom NOW? Because the present moment is the entry point for becoming one with your true being (your soul/God essence/consciousness) & experiencing peace. Your soul is your true, timeless essence- radiating light, love, peace, joy & bliss. It was the totally unique & utterly loved "you" before you were born & it will continue to be the "you" when your physical body dies.
This consciousness & "being" in the present moment is the ultimate freedom. To experience this you must accept the present moment exactly as it is & dis-identify with the incessant chatter in your head (this is your ego & not the real you). Sometimes I "watch" the thoughts in my head like each one is a flashing dot dot dot bubble you see on the iPhone when someone is typing a text to you (I guess this is the modern day version of your thoughts being like clouds, ha!). When you do this you'll find yourself taking life a lot less seriously & will actually start laughing at a lot of the craziness that goes on in your head. That "person" that's watching the bubble thoughts? That's my true being, or as Eckhart Tolle calls it, "the watcher."
When the thoughts completely cease you will be one with your true being, your soul. It will feel like the stillness at the bottom of a lake- peaceful, deep & quiet. For me it's a shift from my head (the surface waves of ego, anxiety, incessant thoughts, the ticking clock of my to-do list, etc.) to my heart (the bottom of the lake- my being/consciousness/soul in the peaceful & timeless realm). This is what meditation is, simple (& sometimes not so simple) as that. Even if you can get to this quiet place for a few seconds it's amazing & will make a huge difference in your overall feelings of peace, calm & well-being (and for all of us Type A's, it also brings more focus & clarity so you can get more done in less time ;)
If, like me, you want nothing more in life than inner peace & true freedom I cannot recommend enough reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer & A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. They have been my life manuals for many years. It takes a serious commitment to be present & peaceful but it is the single most important thing you can do in life for yourself & others- it is truly the ultimate success & freedom.
On this Fourth of July & every day, Let Freedom (in every sense of the word :) Ring!!!
photo: me (West Hartford, CT)