Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Search of Freedom

What is freedom? Is it lack of restrictions or constraints? Is it the ability to do what we want, when we want? Or does the true meaning of freedom lie at a much deeper personal level?

Christopher McCandless wanted to find freedom by seeking adventures and going to live in the wild in Alaska. He wanted to escape the restrictions of society and expectations of his parents. He sought to live off the land and feel the freedom of the wilderness around him. On his journey to Alaska he met some people and forged relationships with them that influenced him at a deep level.

Living in the wild Christopher had many wonderful experiences. He had a lot of time alone to journal and live off the land. One of his earlier quotes was: "It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west." He was able to survive for about four months but being unable to cross the spring-flooded river and not finding enough food ultimately led to his starvation. One of his last journal entries was: "Happiness only real when shared". His idea of freedom had shifted and transformed into something deeper than escape and adventure.

Freedom is a feeling of having power and choices. It feels expansive and joyful. It allows us to express ourselves without fear of rejection or failure. Freedom has boundaries but the boundaries are flexible. Reckless freedom with no adherence to anything can lead to injury, unhappiness and even death. Driving through a red light would be an example of reckless freedom.

True freedom comes from a connection with the Divine, with the inner knowledge of your true self. Freedom is a balancing act of testing our limits and coming back to our center. It is a balance between honoring our needs and desires and being sensitive the needs and feelings of others.

In our yoga practice we want to feel that sense of expansion, peace and power. The ultimate form of the pose is an expression of freedom. That freedom comes from an inner expansion and an inner strength. From a strong foundation we can have true freedom.

Allow the breath to move freely and easily. We are being breathed by a higher power that connects all of us. The breath gives us the gift of life. With our exhalations we experience the freedom of letting go of that precious gift. This allows us to receive it again and again.

We all seek freedom. But sometimes the ways and directions we are seeking do not ultimately lead to our perceived goal. We spend our time and energy on various accomplishments, acquiring wealth and possessions with the idea of being happy and free to do what we want. But often the happiness is fleeting or not there at all. We have exchanged our internal freedom for external pleasures and goals. Part of freedom involves letting go. Freedom is not an escape. Freedom is when our internal worlds and our external worlds connect in harmony.

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