When you feel free in life you’re relaxed, happy, and care free. But how do you get to that state of inner-Zen and total serenity? Don’t worry, we’ll get you there.
Freedom. It’s what everyone wants. We want to feel free in relationships. We want to feel free from tension, stress, anxiety, or whatever other feelings we’re experiencing.
The desire for freedom is something we all share.
When you put your runners on and head out on a ten mile run, you’re making yourself feel free. When you head to the yoga studio and focus your mind on those asanas, you’re making yourself feel free. And when you take a couple of weeks off work and hop aboard a flight to the Bahamas, you’re getting away so you can feel free.
We want to feel free, like an eagle soaring over a mountain high above it all. Freedom. It’s the best feeling in the world. But if you don’t have time to go on vacation, and you’re not interested in doing this amazing meditation retreat in your own home. Well… then what are you going to do?
Let’s face it. It can be a challenge to feel free in life
Even if you’re a mentally strong person, life can get you down.
I remember when I was 26 and I wanted to start out on a new journey in life. I’d been an actor and had spent years touring England on stage. One of the best things about touring was when I put on shows for kids. Lots of these kids were in rough areas. And you know that even at a young age those kids have been through things.
Life gets to you even at an early age. I knew every time I performed at a school that lots of the kids in the audience were going through rough times. And I wanted to make those kids laugh, sing, be happy, and feel free, the whole time my shows were on.
Those kids sang, danced, laughed, and had fun—two of them even asked for my autograph. I laughed. “I’m not famous.” They said “One day you might be.” Ha ha!
Entertainment made those kids forget their worries. It made them forget everything and just focus on what was going on: a fun show. In fact, that’s how all entertainment works.
Great entertainment makes you focus on the moment, and when you focus on the moment you always feel great.
I don’t act so much today. Today I get to write about freedom on TheDailyMeditation.com. In some ways writing for a meditation website couldn’t be more different to acting. But there’s is one key similarity: both entertainment and meditation make you put your thoughts aside and focus on the moment. They make you let go of your mental attachments–your thoughts about the mortgage, your job and those other stresses, those other mental attachments.
What is it that stops you from feeling free in life?
Attachments. Things like work, material possessions, ideas of the self…. All of those million things we cling to; those are what stop us from feeling free. Even as long as 600 BC, people knew that mental attachments caused stress.
Take Buddha, for example.
Buddha knew that to be free in life you have to let go of attachments.
Budda had a lot of attachments.Many people now visit the Great Buddha Statues and follow Buddha. But to become Buddha, Guatama Sidhartha had to let go of attachments.
Buddha was born a royal prince in 624 BC in Limbini. He had everything a man could ever want. He was pampered and lived a life of complete luxury and indulgence. But then Buddha realized a vital truth. He realized that all those luxuries and indulgences were holding him back. He knew that there was more to life. And so he set out on a journey of discovery.
Buddha detached himself from everything. He no longer sought material possessions. He sought complete peace of mind.
One day the Buddha sat by a tree called the Bodhi tree. He said he would not move until he found complete peace of mind. He wanted to feel complete freedom in life, just like you and I. He wanted freedom from a very specific thing: Mara.
Mara is the Buddhist devil. While Buddha was meditating by the Bodhi tree, Mara entered Buddha’s mind. He showed the Buddha images of beautiful women, material possessions, indulgences, power, and all those other temptations. You know; the temptations you and I feel every day of the week. Buddha felt those temptations too.
Just like you and I are tempted by sex, wealth, power… so was Buddha. But Buddha knew a valuable secret. He knew that those temptations were what was stopping him from achieving complete peace of mind, and complete freedom in his life.
And so the Buddha sat and refused to move until he had conquered Mara.
Buddha saw Mara’s temptations, he saw the thoughts you and I see. And at first he tried to fight them. He wrestled with Mara. He fought to push Mara back. But every time Buddha pushed Mara back Mara became stronger.
Fighting with temptations makes those temptations stronger. Buddha needed a different strategy. And so he allowed Mara into his mind, and he simply observed Mara. He didn’t fight those temptations. He just allowed them to exist. He was simply mindful of them.
Buddha learned that when you see your thoughts and temptations (when you see Mara) and you focus on Mara with pure consciousness—not fighting those temptations, just mindfully observing them—those temptations (Mara) lose power over you.
Pure consciousness was the weapon with which to defeat Mara.
And it remains the same today.
If you want to be free in life you have to let go
If you want to be free in life you have to let go of all the things you’re clinging on to. Letting go of those things is one of the best ways to quiet your mind.
You have to just accept things the way you are. And you have to see things for what they are.
When you observe your temptations, your desires, your anger, and other mental states with pure consciousness they will lose all power over you.
You don’t have to sit under a tree for days either. Well; if you do sit under a tree for days you will learn a lot.
A couple of years ago I was at a real low point and afraid for my health. You could say Mara had entered my mind. You could say I was just scared. Either way my mind was full of fear. So I took myself out into the pouring rain half-naked and stood for hours in the rain focusing my mind on the present moment. I was also holding my hands in Abhaya Mudra position, which is a hand gesture that is said to defeat fears.
At first the fears came strong. I experienced anxiety and fear filled my mind. But I simply observed the fear mindfully.
After several hours I was able to focus on my fear with pure consciousness. I wasn’t fighting my fear. I wasn’t trying to ignore it. I wasn’t running from it. I was focusing on the reality of fear. And then it happened. I saw my fears in the pure light of day and they evaporated like the puddles at my feet under the pure heat of the rising sun. And that was when I started to live without fear.
When you focus the mind on the actual reality of your existence, you find complete freedom. That’s because focusing on the moment enables your mind to detach from attachments, from your fears, your desires, your anxieties…. Here’s what Jay Dixit said about present moment mindfulness.
Why attachments stop you from feeling free
When I say attachments I mean the things you cling on to in your mind. For instance, you might cling on to a relationship even though it’s over. You might cling on to a career you know just isn’t going to work out.
When you cling on to those “attachments” you’re trying to force your view on the world, rather than just letting things be.
Attachments are a very serious problem.
Attachments are like a disease that consumes the mind. When you’re afraid for your health, for instance, those fears wrap around your mind and change the way you see the world, almost like tinted glasses over your eyes. But when you step back and observe your own mind with pure consciousness, you’re able to detach yourself from negative states of mind.
Strip yourself of attachments and you will find complete freedom in life. Whether you want to feel free in your relationship, or you want to feel free from depression, or you want to feel free from stress, anxiety, tension…. Whatever it is you want to be free from, you will find freedom when you remove attachments, like a ship freed of its anchor.
There is one powerful elixir that will free you of those attachments: The present moment.
When you focus your mind 100% on the present moment you will be free.
The best war to feel free is with present moment mindfulness
Present moment mindfulness is a practice in which you focus your mind on the present moment. And it’s been scientifically proven to boost happiness levels, eradicate stress, and yes, create feelings of complete freedom in life. University of Oregon researchers even discovered that integrative body-mind training can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness.
And all you need to do is focus the mind on the present moment.
The present moment. It’s like a gift that you can open at any time. A gift that will immediately make you peaceful, happy and free. And all you have to do is focus your mind on the present moment and see reality precisely as it is.
Step back from your attachments. Focus the mind on now. That’s the key to complete freedom in life.
But how do you make yourself live in the present moment. Well, this guide to becoming enlightened should help quite a bit, don’t you think?
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