Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day in the US which always makes me ponder how a country full of self-proclaimed free people can be SO not independent.
I’m not talking about independence in the sense of “I don’t need anyone” but more in the sense of autonomy where you are truly self-governing with the ability to act freely in accordance to who you really are at your core. Are you truly living this way?
There is a Zen story about a lion who was raised by sheep. His life was fine among the sheep – nothing to complain about. Then one day an old lion comes upon him and takes him to a pond. There he shows our sheep/lion his reflection. For the very first time our sheep/lion friend realizes he is not who he thought he was. For although he had been living as a sheep he was in fact a lion.
We can be a little (or a lot) like this lion when the image we have of ourselves comes not from our own direct experience of ourselves but more from outside opinions or circumstances. We are so conditioned to taking cues from outside of us rather than from inside that it is too easy to lose sight of our true reflection.
For the most part, society wants compliance not autonomy. While our country was originally founded on the concepts of independence and sovereignty, people who are absolutely dedicated to freedom are not that easy to control.
Here is a quick exercise for you to create freedom for yourself around a challenging situation or circumstance:
- Think of the greatest challenge to your well-being right now.
- Imagine you can step outside of yourself, away from having a vested interest in the situation.
- Notice how difficult it is to resist feeling the pull of your emotions and attachment to the situation.
- Continue working to separate your true essence and self from the situation to the point where they exist completely separately from one another, side by side but not attached.
- The level to which you can separate from the situation or circumstance will reveal the level of your true independence.
When your innate value and who you are is no longer determined by any other person, situation or circumstance, then and only then will you truly be free.
Here’s to your freedom!