freedom with, not from



greetings friends –

this week marked both the fourth of july and the continuation of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the summer of love. so no surprise … i’ve had freedom on my mind.

is freedom really just another word for nothing left to lose, as the inimitable janis joplin sang? what if there was nothing, no part of us, that could be truly lost?

most of my life i’ve considered what i want to be free of (negative thoughts, addictive patterns, hard emotions, clutter, excess weight, worry, physical pain, etc.). i have pursued treatments and methods to get rid of these things, in hopes of inhabiting a freer version of myself. but i’ve learned again and again that what i resist, persists. even if i break the habit or quiet the pain… lose the weight or calm the emotion  – if i haven’t connected with the underlying part of me that was judging, participating in or even creating the challenge, then it’s only a matter of time before the expression of that part reemerges. to try to push pain away without being present with, is to live in bondage to it.

i’ve been wondering instead what it could mean to be free with these parts of myself, rather than free from them. and it turns out there is surprising liberation that comes when welcoming whatever comfortable and uncomfortable sensation, pleasant and unpleasant emotion, preferable and unpreferable situation, helpful and unhelpful thought to simply be there.  attempts to “free myself of” something are impossible arguments with what is in the moment.

the key for me is where the vantage point of my awareness lies. when i’m solely in my judging mind, nothing is ever really settled. in this seat, i always sense the way things *should* be happening and the way things *should not* be happening. here i will always see things in relationship to how they fit, or don’t fit, with the expectations formed by my models and concepts of the world. i am reminded of a line by one of my other favorite musicians, greg brown from his song “dream on”

“…the world ain’t what you think it is, it’s just what it is”

the only place i can sit and see life from this angle, is the seat of my soul. from this place, i can view life – my life, other’s lives, the world – with compassion and spaciousness. in this place i experience the sense of being sweetly wrapped up and held in the mysterious tapestry of the universe. my grief can remind me of how deeply i have been able to love…  my anger can point out where i have betrayed parts of myself… my fear and worry do their best to keep me safe.. my physical pain can act as calls out to bring even more presence, compassion and care to my physical self.

perhaps freedom comes when we realize that we are unbroken and whole just as we are, always have been and always will be. that every challenge or pain, as well as each celebration and pleasant sensation, are all expressions of life, free to be lived.

wishing us all a summer of love and freedom, like we’ve never known it before,


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