"You find freedom inside -- nowhere else." ~ Prem Rabat
"The freedom to be yourself is a gift only you can give yourself. But once you do, no one can take it away." ~ Doe Zantamata
"The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage." ~ Carrie Jones
If you're an American, more than likely you're celebrating America's Independence from the British in 1776 this weekend. So, to my fellow Americans across the globe, Happy Fourth of July!
Yet, whether we're American or not, freedom and independence comes in many forms. Around the world, people celebrate their liberation from other countries, from dictators and governing bodies, as well as from other factions. We celebrate freedom from hardship and disease. We may acknowledge our independence from our parents and our families of origin. Or we may commemorate our freedom from formal education.
But, what about personal freedom? The kind of freedom and power we achieve when we break free from ourselves and our old ways of being? How can we let loose of our own self-imposed mental and emotional shackles that often hold us back far greater than any external source or circumstance?
For the last few years I have chosen to walk on a path that has allowed me to create a deeper knowing and understanding of myself. Not an easy journey, but the most worthwhile one I've ever taken. Along the way, I have rediscovered my own power and peace by breaking away from many of my old habits and thought patterns, as well as by making bolder moves and choices with my life. Here are a few of the valuable tools I'm learning on this path to freedom! However, please bear in mind that this is my own personal journey, which is specifically designed for me. Each of us have our own unique journey. So, feel "free" to embrace, question, or reject any of my personal ideas and suggestions.
The Path to Freedom ~
1. Recognize your habitual, "negative" thought patterns and shift them into the new thoughts you'd like to create. Whether we want them to or not, or whether positive or negative, our thoughts are creating the pictures of our lives. Take a mirror to your life today and consider that your current life is a reflection of the thoughts you had yesterday, last week, last month, or last year. Additionally, most of the thoughts that you're keeping today are the exact same thoughts you had yesterday. So, are you tired of having the same thoughts? Wonder how you can change them? Only when we're in stillness can we become aware of our incessant thoughts and begin to transform them. Meditation is the practice that creates awareness to our lives. It is through mindfulness practice that we wake up!! We're no longer asleep in our lives, running on autopilot, and completely unaware of our thoughts and choices. Through meditation, simply pay attention to your thoughts. Don't judge or abandon them. Simply become aware of them. Once you're aware of them and practice self-compassion toward your thoughts and yourself, your thoughts will begin to shift to more loving and nourishing thoughts. Thoughts that will uplift and raise your vibration.
2. Break free from old emotions. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired with yourself and your behavioral responses? We don't have to keep responding to the same people and the same situations with the same anger, the same anxiety, the same frustration, or the same guilt. We don't have to be slaves to our emotions. We can use our emotions to empower us and channel them into healthier expressions. Again, meditation allows us to become more reflective and less reactive. Today is the day to let go of negative emotions that often control and ruin our lives.
3. LIVE FOR YOU!! That's right! Do what makes YOU happy! Does your life follow the mold of your parents, your familial ancestors, or your society? Is it the life you desire for yourself? If not, take bold moves to follow your own unique path. Let go of other people's expectations and thoughts of you, as well as any need to please other people. Why be concerned with what others may think of us? Regardless of what we do, people are still going to have their opinions and judgments, so, why not do what makes US happy!? No one else has to understand or approve of our lives. Only we do!
4. Take chances! Life isn't discovered in the comfort zone. True growth happens when we take risks and challenges and do what feels completely uncomfortable and unnatural. Just on the other side of our fears and trepidation lies our strength and power. Facing our fears builds so much character and strength and equips us for more greatness along our path.
5. Embrace life's ebbs and flows. Yep..it's gonna go up and down! Even your inspiration and motivation may wax and wane, but keep going. Do something everyday, no matter how small, that inspires you and builds toward your dreams. If we allow life's challenges to knock us down and keep us down then we have surrendered our power and freedom over once again.
6. Cut negative cords! That's right! In order to achieve greatness and personal power we must let go of people that are not part of our building team. I am a firm believer in keeping only a few VERY close. Many will call themselves "friends," but most are simply curious. That may sound like a harsh reality, but in truth, if we want to reach our dreams, we need a strong team that not only inspires us but prays for us even when we don't ask them to. That doesn't mean we cannot practice loving-kindness from a distance. We can. But, having people around our lives that are not our true uplifters and supporters can be a damaging weight to our dream building. If you knew that someone secretly wishes you to fail and has the power to surround your dreams and intentions with negative energy, would you then remove them? Well, people and their thoughts are extremely powerful. If you don't completely trust them, then ask yourself what purpose are they serving in your life? Popularity dies with youth. So, consider more selectivity in your friends and with whom you share your dreams. We are the masters of our domains and we can choose quality over quantity.
7. BE AUTHENTIC! No matter what, we speak and own our truth. The cost of not standing in our authenticity is far too great than owning who we are at all times. When we deny, abandon, or reject parts of ourselves in order to please or make others feel more comfortable, or to preclude our own fears of judgment and vulnerability, then our self-esteem and self-empowerment is gravely affected. Nothing feels worse than when we walk away from an experience knowing we didn't show up as our truest and highest Self! We can own who we are and share ourselves bravely with the world!
So, as we celebrate America's freedom, we can celebrate our own personal power and freedom. Wherever we are along the journey is exactly where we're supposed to be, but we can cultivate new tools to help navigate us with greater peace, power, love, and freedom. There has never been an easy war to freedom. Every country that has won its freedom has had its own heavy burdens, loss, and sacrifice. True freedom comes at a heavy, yet invaluable price, but we can choose "Love" to win our battles.
Happy Independence and may you soar like the butterfly you were created!