Monday, July 4, 2011

I Want To Be Free From ...

Last night we gathered with a small group of friends for a Freedom Fest.

No fireworks, hot dogs or Tchaikovsky.

Instead, we enjoyed a lively international potluck (each person brought a dish from a favorite trip they’ve taken) and we asked our guests to bring one thing they wanted to be “free from” this summer: a habit, a worry, a situation, a concern, etc.

Curious who the most popular unwanted house guests were? Anxiety and worry, debt, overwhelm, fear about the future, taking on other people’s “stuff,” resistance to self-care, obligation, and pain and suffering were just a few that gathered around our table.

Originally, when I sat with the question, “What do I want to be free from?” what first came to mind, was email (like many, I’m trying to tame the email dragon).

But as I peeled away the layers of the onion and went even deeper, I realized that all of my busy-ness is caused by the need to produce or create.

We all have this drive and there are positive and negative aspects to this ingrained behavior, but some of us are in “over-drive” when it comes to creating and bringing things to fruition (even if it’s for a good cause, for family, in the name of service/healing/world peace or to create community and foster connection). There are many noble reasons to get busy, but even so--sometimes it all becomes too much.

During the soiree, we passed around a basket of freedom questions: What would happen if I was free from ____________? When was a time I felt most free? What does being free mean to me? What would feeling free at work (or in my marriage) look like? and heard some fascinating perspectives around the theme of “breaking free.”

Before we all said goodnight, we wrote down all the things we wanted to be free from and burned these outside in a clay pot as a symbolic release.

All morning long, I’ve been thinking about the theme of “freedom” and keep coming back to the realization that what we all want most is inner freedom. Freedom from our stressful thinking. From our own reoccurring negative thoughts. We want more interior space. We’re tired of living in a shanty with our own fears and insecurities. We want to live in a mansion---a wide open space where we roam free, react less and respond more. And can breathe. Deep, long, spacious breaths.

Interior freedom. Ahhhhh. Yes, I want to experience more of that for sure.

And, right now, the only way I know how to taste this is to meditate each day—-no matter what.

Dropping into stillness, staying with my breath. Surrendering to the present moment. Because even when my 20 minute sit feels like watching a race car circle madly around a track, I still finish feeling better than when I started. And more and more often, my interior space feels more like somewhere I’d want to actually hang out--somewhere I’d like to live.

At the last minute, we found someone to watch our son this morning and my husband was able to join me for a 9:00 a.m. yoga class. At the end of savasana, the thought appeared in my head, "What am I already free from that I'm not seeing?"

I don't think this freedom theme is ready to depart. I'll be sitting with this new question this week.


P.S. I'm out on a writing sabbatical this summer and we're surveying the Emotional and Spiritual Health of Families for my new writing project. If you have 5 minutes to tell me about your family culture, I’d love to get your input (and feel free to share with friends/lists):

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Photo: This sweet guy was swimming in a creek on the Barton Creek greenbelt. My friend, son and I loved watching him dive in the water, enjoying the wide open space.

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