Tag Archives: Freedom

Longing, Belonging and Freedom

ListenIntuitives have been talking lately about the cleansing energy that has been blasting through our inner lives over the past weeks and months. Old stuff, ancient stuff is rising up and being blown about. The corners are being swept. That has certainly been true for me. I don’t have a handle on this newest revelation yet, so my writing about it may feel jumbled, unclear, but I am coming to you live from inner space, and here is what it looks like at the moment.

Crestview2I just returned home from a week-long trip down south, my birthplace. While there visiting with my family, I also looked at a piece of property that literally wept with nostalgia – thirteen acres of pasture, forest, private lake, barn (complete with a tractor and two horses), and a ramshackle house that was begging for love, my love…the kind of treasure completely out of reach here in California. This place got under my skin, as well as my husband’s and daughter’s…so much so that if the house hadn’t needed quite so much attention, we would be ranch owners right now.

So my visit was thrown into a tailspin of pondering. Could we relocate back to my Mississippi roots, after almost forty years in the liberal, urban sprawl of Los Angeles? Could we embrace the idyllic geography, spend the next and final years looking at the stars, listening to the crickets, catching fish and growing vegetables, feeling the deep belonging of brothers and cousins, nieces and nephews, and old high school friends who knew me when? Could our wide-world mindset find its place in the old-world leanings of the south? Could we survive the heat and humidity? 😉

Oh, how I struggle when I go back there! My mom is in her latter years, and it hurts to witness her decline, experience the tenderness between us, then say goodbye each visit. It hurts to connect with my brothers and their children, feel that potent pull of belonging, then depart. But then I arrive back at LAX…and there is something in the air that feels good. Really good. It smells like jet fuel, it looks like concrete and cars and palm trees, but it feels like freedom. I can breathe deeply here in the City of Angels.

I’ve been reading another John O’Donohue book. This one is called Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong. The timing could not be more perfect. And the corners that are getting swept, the ancient stuff that is coming up for me to heal, is another piece of self-acceptance: accepting this throb in the center of my chest that pulses so intensely it hurts. This yearning heart, which often embarrasses me, is my life-force, my very best feature!

I’m also being asked to look at the continuum of belonging and freedom, and embrace the fluctuating position I find myself in along that continuum.  Pure belonging is impossible without the sacrifice of individuality, the gift of freedom. Pure freedom is a lonely, lonely place.  I had never thought about this before, about the dynamism of these twin calls in our lives, and our negotiation of those energies. Somehow, naming them helps me dance instead of wrestle between, even as the as-yet-unknown future unfurls.

Here is a lovely blessing by O’Donohue that I offer as prayer for myself and for you, as you, too, are blown about in your own winds of change:

May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be large enough for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart that something good is going to happen to you.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place.
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt, fear, disappointment, and despair.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

–John O’Donohue

 

Freedom of Thought

FreedomThroughout the holiday weekend, in the midst of preparations and celebrations, I pondered the subject of freedom, as we do on the 4th of July. We are blessed with so many liberties here in the United States, but there is one that is universal, no matter what country or political landscape we are in: our freedom of thought, to which we are often blind. We are free to think as we please, and our perception of the world (and thus our experience of the world) is the outcome of that thinking. Granted, the societies we live in try to influence our thinking in various ways and through various mediums, but ultimately it is up to us whether to believe all that input or not. This is what I think it means to spiritually grow up, or awaken. We learn to witness our own thoughts, and choose whether or not they are indeed true and valuable, or whether they are causing us unnecessary suffering and divisiveness. As we do this, through meditation, prayer and contemplation, we start to see the barrage of thought, the barrage of input upon our thought.

How many days have I spent lost in worry? How many hours have I spent held captive by blame turned inwardly or outwardly, held captive by anger, greed, small-mindedness, jealousy, self-righteousness, victimhood? These subtle but big-blanket thoughts are usually running underneath our consciousness, influencing our words and actions without our awareness. They appear less as actual thoughts and more like feeling-tones, inner landscapes. They are like tinted glasses we wear and forget we are wearing them.

We often think that meditation is all about having a peaceful experience, but I’ve learned that this is not true. We may be moving toward peace, but much of the meditative process is coming face to face with our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, and then witnessing just how much these experiences are calling the shots in our life. This can be painful, but it is a cleansing pain, a liberating pain, if it is done with compassion.

Freedom of thought is our greatest gift and our greatest responsibility.  It is the work of our lifetime.

Here is an excerpt from Pema Chodron’s book The Places That Scare You, that illustrates the basic choice we make in our thinking each day:

“When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhichitta [open-heart] teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved, and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, ‘Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.’ Right there I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

It takes courage and tenacity to look inward.  As human beings, we naturally resist what might hurt, and it can definitely hurt to see ourselves clearly. It can be quite challenging to let go of a thought, too, even though we know it is causing us harm.  Some, like greed, revenge, or even worry have an addictive quality, a magnetic quality. I can’t tell you how difficult I find it to let go of worry! It seems on the surface like a loving thing to do! But I know this isn’t true. Worry benefits no one and causes great harm.

As  you move into the second half of 2015 (I tend to think of July 4 as the dividing line), and as you catch yourself thinking thoughts that are not lifting you up, be kind with yourself, be forgiving. But right there, on the spot, to the best of your ability, liberate yourself. CHOOSE AGAIN! I promise to do this to the best of my ability, too. We are in this together!

Blessings.