“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” – Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, Yoga mantra
It is Independence Day in America, and it was Independence Day for Canada just this past weekend. As a recent expat from America now residing in Australia, this is the first time I am deeply aware of my roots. Call it homesickness, I am reflecting upon what it means to be celebrating this day of Independence from literally the other side of the world. And what it means to celebrate freedom.
What does it mean to be free? And how do we ourselves enjoy the same freedom as America (and other countries) celebrate? Because I don’t know about you, but I often feel chained. Do you feel chained to a job, to a home, or to a lifestyle or habit perhaps? Sometimes I very much feel held back by limitations in this world.Although being held back may feel external, I know that the shackles holding me are actually very much internal. Because what is actually holding us back from our freedom, from our power, from our celebration is what binds us inside. And it’s not the job, it’s not the home, or the lifestyle or habit; what binds us is not necessarily the external factor, but really is our reaction to it.
So how we do rise above the shackles? Dig deep. We first must figure out what we are bound to. Because it more than likely is not the job, the home or the lifestyle or habit. It’s usually something deeper. Ask yourself, are you bound to fear? Are you bound to not feeling good enough? Do you feel shackled to feeling unloved?
Therein lies our freedom. To discover what binds us, become aware of how it plays into our world, and moment by moment, thought by thought, think of ways to overcome it.
One way to overcome it is by projecting into the world what you feels binds you. For instance, in my own life, I feel shackled by never feeling good enough. I fear putting myself out there in a big way, because I greatly fear that I will be criticized and told I’m not good enough to shine. This is a huge realization for me. Perhaps this may awaken a realization in you or, perhaps what binds you (if at all) is something different. But what I recognize is that because I feel not good enough, I’m going to do everything in my power to help others recognize they are good enough. To shine a spotlight on them and let them know how important they are in this world, how good they are in this world. Because perhaps if I see it in others, then I can start to see it in myself.
This works with anything, truly. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Are you chained to the fear of not having enough money? Perhaps turn it around, and ask yourself, how can I help others feel secure financially? Donate or volunteer your time.
Are you chained to feeling unloved? Ask yourself, how can I love more? How can I project my own love into this world? Call someone up and tell them how much they mean to you. Write a love letter a day for a full year, to every person you know. Even celebrities, family members, friends, even enemies (a-ha!).
Are you scared of being lonely? Then help others feel less alone. Adopt a pet, call a friend you haven’t talked to in some time, or chat it up with a person sitting alone during your lunch break.
Above all else, remember that you internally choose your freedom. Freedom doesn’t choose us. We as individuals have the power to be free within our own minds. We just have to become aware of what truly binds us, and from there we can choose to free ourselves of it.