“Jim, how do I become free?”
I am asked the above question a lot. I’ve never given the same answer twice because the context, specifics, and person asking are always different. This morning, a few things particularly came to mind about this question.
“Jim, how do I become free?”
1. Realize you ARE free.
You don’t “become” free. You ARE free. Your fundamental, underlying, unchanging Self is one with God. That Self is whole, free, at peace, and well. That Self is in no need of improvement or enlightenment, and has nothing to gain, earn, attain or become. That Self is never threatened. So, no person needs to “become” free. What we’re talking about is how to stretch out into and walk in the freedom that you already have and are.
2. Stop seeking freedom.
We have made “freedom” into a concept and category with which we have become obsessed. We see the world through eyes of dualism: up/down; right/left; day/night; happy/sad; free/not free. We inflate this concept we call “freedom,” give it a life of its own, and incessantly judge ourselves by it. Think of the flower pedals and the inner dialogue: “He, loves me; he loves me not. He loves me; he loves me not, etc…” In the same way, we say to ourselves: “I am free; I am not free. I am free; I am not free, etc…” Don’t become attached to the idea of “freedom.” Don’t seek it as an outcome. Stop incessantly analyzing your life and whether are not you are “free” and how much.
3. Do what connects you with your true Self.
What stimulates and stirs your awareness of who you are beyond your human mind and body? What opens up for you the direct and unmediated awareness and experience of the way things really are as whole and one? What connects you with the awareness of the infinitude and eternality of who you are and all things? What enables you to sink down into and center yourself into the harmony and wellness of all things?
4. Respond as the situations of your life require.
Sometimes people are trying to work out unhappiness in their lives through spirituality, when the situation requires them to work it out by doing their personal human work. If you are suffering in life because of depression, codependency, addiction, stress, self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors, relationship struggles, health issues… then it is necessary to address these accordingly, which will likely include things like therapy, professional mental health services, support groups, counseling, support network, personal diligence, etc. There is no substitute for this. No amount of “spirituality” can excuse one of the need to do their personal work to address these kinds of issues. In many cases, people are not experiencing “freedom” in their life because they are not doing their personal work.
5. Create a daily intention that resonates with and inspires you.
Quit fretting over whether you are free in your life. Start setting daily intentions that direct your path. Maybe on Monday, you decide you want to approach life from a place of acceptance rather than judgment, including self-acceptance. Perhaps on Thursday, you establish as an intention to be courageously authentic. What way of being resonates with you? What life or self affirmation inspires you?
6. Ask a new question.
Rather than asking, “How can I be free?” ask these kinds of questions:
What makes you come alive?
What satisfies you most deeply?
What fills you up?
What brings you joy?
What centers you?
What is a source of delight and pleasure for you?
What areas, fields, or subjects are you interested in exploring?
What makes you feel connected to yourself?
What forms of self-expression are the most gratifying?
What would your sense of adventure tell you to do?
What way of being in the world resonates most deeply with your heart?
Where does your sense of curiosity take you?
How are you most compelled to aid the liberation of others?
Where in life are you inspired to be a tangible expression of love, acceptance, and compassion?
What nurtures a greater love for yourself and others?