The Year Of Freedom

10425576_10154236863640331_1580966777_nIf 2015 was The Year Of Value then 2016 is The Year Of Freedom. Now that we’ve identified what’s truly of value to each of us, cleaned up our clutter – recycled, re-gifted, reused and returned all that we no longer need - we begin to feel freer.

Freer to move around, perhaps travel with the money we no longer spend on stuff. Freer to be of assistance, using our resources to benefit others. Freer to use our time to learn or experience or teach.

Freer to express ourselves or even so free that we no longer feel the need to express ourselves.

During a weekend morning walk, my husband and I talked about our son’s coming teenage years and navigating the drug/alcohol guidance. I tend to think of most substance use – whether it’s drugs and alcohol or ice cream and chocolate – as a mechanism to deal with struggle and suffering. My husband made an interesting comment on how some people used substances to experience freedom: a way to express themselves when they are too afraid, uncomfortable or uncertain of discovering or revealing who they are.

I contemplated the merits of his observation in my own life. Gateways to perceived freedom. As a kid I found freedom in nature and writing. In my teenage years I explored drinking, quite liberally, as a means to feel free. In my twenties it was exercise – the more people expected of me at work and in my relationships, the more hours I spent in the gym - no wonder I was so fit. In my thirties I moved from exercise to yoga, shamanism and all-things mystical and undefined; there’s freedom in unexplored territory, until it’s explored. Then in my forties I returned to the place of freedom of my childhood: nature and writing.

Maybe we are always looking for ways to feel free, to discover and express who we are. And maybe this journey to freedom has us moving from one promising method to the next.

I don’t drink anymore. Maybe once or twice a year. It’s been this way for many years and I usually tell people when they ask that it’s because I feel better when I don’t drink. It only leaves me feeling dehydrated. What’s interesting about my husband’s remark is that I realized I stopped wanting to socially drink around the same time I became immersed in yoga, meditation and writing: newfound avenues of freedom.

This is not a judgement on drinking or drug use or altered states through plants. It is an observation and contemplation, and an invitation for you to engage in your own inquiry.

Freedom in every moment and freedom found only in the present moment.

Can we feel freedom while we are where we are, who we are? With no need for substance or prop?

When I consider the ways I use to feel free today, I have a few to add to the list: meditation & breath, feeding my demons, and one interesting observation: swearing. There’s something freeing in the use of forbidden words. My kids know it. They light up like Christmas when they get to let one fly. It’s in our family motto, which my 8 year-old loves to share with people: Don’t buy shit you don’t need.

I have phases where I swear-off swearing. Then times when I freely allow the f-bombs to fly. Clearly those are the times I’m needing more freedom and a well-placed expletive offers a crack in the constraints just wide enough to provide room to move.

Where do you seek out freedom in your life? What are the ways you touch that place of expansion? Observe your methods for self-discovery, expression and release. Are they nourishing you or creating further suffering for you and those around you?

We are literally Freedom In Form, holding the belief that we are not free and need to seek it out. Maybe this is the year we realize it.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be free.


*photo credit, Emma Barry