A post on freedom

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
— Jim Morrison

This life of a homeless wanderer often leads us to ask many inward questions. Lately the main question I have been asking myself is "what do I want?". And when I think about it, this question is one that I have been asking myself for a very long time.

The very first thing that comes to mind is so simple and common - I want freedom. Then I laugh a little as I wonder what a weird thought, because I mean, I have freedom.. Don't I? I was raised in a country with so many opportunities available to me, growing up near the beach with fresh salty air and an ocean to swim in as I desired. Being able to chose what I wanted to study, where I wanted to live, and what I wanted to eat, say or wear. I am so incredibly blessed in this life I am living, yet the first answer to "what do I want?" remains, freedom. So this leads me to question myself some more, if I am so free, then why do I feel so trapped? 

My mind starts wandering back, was I really free to chose to study, or what eat, say and wear? Every day we are influenced so much by what is considered 'right' in our societies eyes. Going to school, then university, wearing what is in fashion, saying something funny, smart, 'cool', is all somewhat predetermined and is not really freedom at all*. But it is so subtle that we probably don't even recognise it until we reflect and try to understand any discontent that we feel. In Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael (a must read if you haven't), they ask the question, "how things came to be this way?" and when you take it back and back, it becomes so apparent that actually society, and our culture makes most of the decisions for us. We are told from such a young age what is appropriate and "normal" and if we do not fit into this mold then we are labeled as outsiders, or weirdo's. I mean now, sure I dont mind this label, but growing up, it is the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted to fit in, to be accepted, to be apart of the mainstream. We as a culture criticize the different, label them and ostracize them, consciously or not it happens on some level.

So this took the thought path down the road of attempting to understand the mind, and how we can break down this conditioning after a lifetime of influence. Leading me to an understanding of my answer to this old age question of "what do I want?", and that voice that pipes up, saying 'freedom', it is talking from the soul, the soul that is just craving to be liberated from the boundaries and walls that I have built up through out my life. If the mind is not free, then no matter where we are, what we do, we will feel trapped and imprisoned. Which will lead to feeling confused as to why we are toppless on a beach in portugal bathing under the sun, but still discontented (yes it happens!). Thinking a thousand different thoughts, unable to fully be present in the moment.  

“Wherever you go, there you are”
— Confucius

But how then can we break out of this prison? Each time I am in deep meditation I catch glimpses of truth, of true freedom, but it doesn't last. I suppose when it does that is what we call total liberation, enlightenment. But must we attain this state to discover true freedom? Or is there other ways of "just being happy"? What I have found to work best, is the practice of mindfulness, concentrating on exactly the task at hand and giving is all of your attention. The practice of yoga, to learn to control the mind, and notice when you are losing grasp on the light. To know when the darkness is taking over and doing our best to come back to balance. Also I think acceptance, accepting that this life, is a combination of ups and downs, of highs and lows, and just having faith in the path. Trusting that it is all happening so we can learn and so one day we can comprehend true freedom. 

When we feel that we are straying from the path, we must remember that there is no such thing as straying, each decision, each action is all apart of it, and it is all happening the way it is supposed to. Trust. Someone recently told me, "don't question so much", and I suppose he was right to a degree. I mean questioning and reflecting and attempting to better oneself is important, but we must also remember not to take it so seriously. And if this reflecting feels overwhelming as it often does when the answers don't come, or they come and don't make sense, we can keep it simple and remember:

The meaning of life is just to be alive.
— Alan Watts

In the end I chose to live the way I want, I chose to travel and explore, and I am lucky enough to make that choice. That is the freedom I do have, and it is a hell of a lot more than some! Or I can also just accept that maybe this is just the stage of life for confusion, to learn lessons, and to question so I can grow..

If you are reading this and can relate in some way please let me know your experiences, and your tips on how you continue to break out of the confines of the mind. 

But for now, be mindful, be grateful, and do your practice. 

With love and light,

Tineke xx

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*Compared to many people in many countries yes, freedom is totally mine, but in this situation I am referring to my particular experiences in this life. Xx