“Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.” Thich Nhat Hahn
This simple practice by Thich Nhat Hahn has been a great inspiration to many who have had this pious Vietnamese monk as a teacher. I have been so blessed to learn from him both in a retreat and form his many wonderful books.
Personal Freedom is an inside job. You and I have an infinite capacity to shape our lives and to create true freedom for ourselves. This is process toward freedom is totally doable and realistic but will take some time, patience, and attention. As a student of life for close to forty years now, I have studied the ideas and practices that are the most transformative and want to share them with you now. If this blog is regular stopping place for you, many of these ideas will be familiar but hopefully a new light of insight will be turned on.
Here are the 10 Pathways to Personal Freedom:
- Personal Freedom begins in the now. If you truly want to be free it can only happen by you living in the present moment. Yes this moment and then the next moment. The past no longer matters and the future never arrives because there is only the now. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice to assist you n being fully present to your life. Explore mindful practices that work for you. There are many to choose form like finding a teacher in your community or checking out many internet based resources like the Sounds True link here at my blog.
- “Argue for your limitations and they are yours.” This is from the wonderful little novel Illusions by Richard Bach. Most of what holds you (and I) back is your ideas, beliefs, early childhood conditioning, etc. These ideas are only powerful because you keep playing them over and over in your own thoughts and self-talk. Take charge of the programming upstairs and you will create incredible freedom for yourself and those around you. You are infinite in your capacities so quit arguing this isn’t true.
- While your mind is part of the discussion, let’s talk about keeping the mind open. A closed mind is a huge waste of human potential. An open mind has the capacity to keep learning and expanding for your entire life. With growth comes the added capacity of realizing your higher mind. This mind is divine because it is greater than the limited mind of ego and personality. The higher mind is made up of ever expanding consciousness, intuition, insight, compassion and wisdom. Activate this mind by simply quieting down and making contact with it. This higher mind will set you free in ways that you may not have ever dreamed possible.
- The body you have been given is an amazing life force that can be an Olympic athlete, do dance performances, ride a skateboard high into the air, move like an animal, be a wonderful source of pleasure, sit quietly in mediation and so much more. Your built in immune system can fight off an endless assault of disease. The body is your center of sensation so it is what makes you feel alive. The wisdom of the body when listened to will guide you to a better life. A well cared for body will make your life full of energy and aliveness and liberate you to be free to do whatever you chose.
- Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Most of the world’s wisdom traditions say you are here in this life to learn about love. This learning about love is essential to freedom because you are not free unless your heart is open. Love comes in many forms for you to explore and express. You can have compassion for self and others, you can perform random acts of kindness, you can be caring to those you love and those in need, you can love everyone you meet and so much more. There is no limit to how much love you have inside and how much you can share. Real freedom is loving with an open heart.
- Find your way to inner peace because it is essential to liberating you life from the tyranny of your own thoughts. Your (and the rest of us) ego-mind is a thought-making machine that is always on full speed ahead. If you let it, your self-talk will drive you batty. Inner peace is a key ingredient for freedom. The way of peacefulness inside is through taking quiet time for contemplation each day. You can find this quiet time when you first wake up, in the commute to work, a walk at lunch, even a run/bike before dinner, a mindful dinner, a quiet evening, and before you fall off to sleep. This place of quiet wisdom inside can bring you great peace and great possibilities in your life.
- Another important life experience to find inside of you is happiness. Happiness is not outside of you even though most advertisers would have you believe that is so. Happiness comes from being with yourself fully in appreciation of who you are, what you have to offer, and your sense of the infinite potential in you waiting to be realized. In the stillness of you is a greatness longing to be expressed. Living a life of self-care, having and open heart, creatively expressing yourself, and do what has meaning for you will bring you endless happiness and free you up to enjoy every aspect of life.
- Live with passion and purpose if you want to feel free. Passion is doing things with lots of love and energy. Purpose is living a life that matters to you and making a difference in the world. You and only you can do you with passion and purpose. If you decide to coast the rest of us lose out. You can do things with passion and light up the room wherever you go. You can do things with purpose and leave the world a better place. If you want to know about your passion and purpose that quiet place inside talked about above is just the place to hang out. In the stillness is an intuitive knowing that can always lead you to your passion and your purpose. Living with the two p’s always feels like freedom.
- Find your place of well-being, your center, you balance point. You are not like anyone else so drop the comparisons and the unrealistic expectations and instead find your center. Your center is a place in your body, a place in your mind, a place in your heart and is your higher nature. Being centered means all parts (body, mind etc.) are aligned to your present moment. You can’t live anyone else’s present. Your well-being and freedom needs you to be who you are in your own unique expression. Living in balance and centered in what is right for you gives you the freedom to be more present to others because you come from strength.
- Lastly but most important is your relationship with your spirit, your life force, your Higher Self, your sense of the Great Spirit. You are a spiritual being having a human experience. The ego and personality want to argue that you are human who once in awhile goes to church, says a prayer or sits quietly. This idea of being human is totally limiting to your freedom. Your nature is infinite, yes the body will not last forever but you will. If you live as if you are here to love, be more conscious, have more compassion, be kind, and be a light wherever you go then you will soar in freedom in every way.
Let me know what pathways you are exploring and share any light you have for us.