We Want Freedom but Can’t Control Life. Can Meditation Help?
Loss of Control often Causes Anxiety
Over my decades of meditation I have made it a priority to study myself, my behaviors and human behavior in general. I have always felt a deep longing to maximize the good parts of life and minimize the bad. One glaring truth has come to the surface. People crave freedom!
I have also realized that people define freedom in different ways. One very popular definition of freedom is the notion that I can do anything I want whenever I want. On first glance, this seems like an ideal life. But in reality, living that kind of free life is bound to affect the freedom of others.
For example, if I want to blast music at 3 am regardless of people around me, I might feel free. But what about my family and my neighbors? My freedom of expression interferes with their freedom to sleep peacefully.
It appears that true freedom means taking into account the freedom of others, not just my own. In this way, the spiritual teaching that we are all connected comes into play. My choices and my actions affect others. If I pursue an action that excludes an awareness of others, I am actually limiting the freedom of my fellow brothers and sisters.
This creates a dilemma as I can’t help but feel there are many factors out of my control. With the lack of control, I may conclude that my freedom is not complete. I would say that there is truth in that statement.
In the early phases of spiritual development, this causes tremendous conflict as we want to be totally free but also we don’t want others to have their freedom limited by our actions.
What about when a romance is coming to an end? Most of the time, one of the partners wants to break up because they want more freedom to do something else or see other people. The one being left will feel that life is out of control because they still want the relationship to continue. In this case, one partner’s freedom means the other partner is restricted. How can this be resolved?
It can be resolved using meditation. Meditation is the act of entering a deeply relaxed state of consciousness followed by an active choice of where you will put your attention. As you progress, you gain greater control of your thoughts and thus you can choose what you want to do with your mind once you have relaxed.
Let’s say you wish to explore the relationship to your own personal freedom. You may ask yourself questions such as;
Do I feel completely free in my life?
Does my freedom infringe on the freedom of others?
Am I trying too hard to control my life and others in order to feel free?
It is rare that a person will say they feel completely free. I believe this is because of two things. First, we are not taught what freedom is in terms of a collective group such as the souls on our planet. We are fed the idea that freedom is the ability to do whatever we want when we want with no negative consequences.
In this model, I should be free to drive home a little drunk because I want to. But if I hurt someone or damage property, someone else’s freedom is affected.
Or this notion that life would be perfect if I didn’t have to work. I would be free if I had a ton of money and could live a life of leisure. Ironically, if you investigate the lives of people who don’t have to work and have an abundance of leisure time, most of them are restless, not content and often become extremely self-centered.
It is pretty well known that most lottery winners don’t do well with the sudden influx of huge amounts of cash. In contrast, people who find a type of work that engages them are more likely to feel fulfilled and this is because working and contributing to society is one of the secrets that leads to feeling free.
The second reason is that we don’t know how to integrate the balance of aspects of life that we can control and those aspects we can’t control.
Getting back to meditation, begin to explore this idea of your own freedom. Start by defining what you believe ultimate freedom is and also explore if your ultimate freedom infringes on others. Most of us are not close to finding a clear path to freedom.
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