"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Go.
Freedom is one of my core values, and I have given it a lot of thought. Additionally it is a major theme for the collective, especially since the beginning of 2020 . On the surface level it seems that the recent events highlighted and temporarily limited our liberties, such as the ability to travel the world, eat out, or to even simply hang out with ones friends, have a sovereignty over ones body when it comes to medical choices, and so on. But the concept of “freedom” goes much deeper in my opinion. If anything, the unique limitations that were imposed globally, created an opportunity for many to reevaluate their lives, and examine all the ways that they were not free in during the years or decades leading up to now, despite the ability to roam the world freely, having financial means etc .
Before we dive head first into what is true freedom and why, let’s examine the mainstream understanding of what it means to be free. The most commonly used interpretation for the word freedom, lies of course in its physical component. Historically it was not an option for all humans at all times, hence to possess it fully in modern days is definitely a progress. Being able to move freely in the physical world, not being confined to a certain place, is certainly a basic level of freedom, a foundation so to speak. Slavery is one of those darker aspects of our human history, and to this day the consequences of it are playing out in the society.
Next level up in my opinion is the financial freedom. After all, regardless of ones ability to go places, more often than not, one needs money to do so. In our society at least. We need money to feel that we are able to fully explore our physical freedom, in terms of being able to afford food, clothing , travel etc. Maslows hierarchy of needs portrays clearly what has to be in place before we are able to embrace the higher elements of our fulfilment . Financial security is no doubt important, yet it is still a basic level of freedom. And the irony is, that in many cases, once achieved - instead of liberating, it enslaves people by becoming the main value of their lives. Since we are not exactly encouraged by our culture to explore our inner realms, most don’t even suspect that this is where the true treasures are. External freedom becomes the main focus and the greatest distraction of all, driving the consumerism and keeping people stuck in a rat race.
So what is this mysterious true freedom I keep hinting at? Well, it is not as tangible as the previous two levels - you can not touch it or see it, you can only feel it. It is a lived experience, and unless you have tasted it, had a glimpse of what is possible, chances are - you won’t even know about its existence . It is very individual and hidden for the most part, not something you can flash by posting a vacation picture on social media. And a large amount of people live their whole lives having no idea of the fact that they are not free. Not free in their thoughts, their perceptions, their reactions, not free to express their true essence. A significant amount of what appears to be our personal choice, is in fact dictated by our environment. What to wear, where to eat, whom to be attracted to. We are greatly influenced by the opinions of others, the advertisements, the standards of the culture we live in. Since on a physiological level we are mammals, in some ways our brains are wired to associate safety with the belonging to a group in order to ensure our ability to survive, hence why the approval of others is important on a purely biological level. But of course there is a lot more to us, and this is when things start to get interesting.
Our brains are way more complicated than those of an animal, and due to a long term development of the bodies brains of the human child on his way to an adulthood, a lot of programming takes place in our formative years. To say that minds of children are highly impressionable is an understatement. For the first seven years of our lives, we are basically an open subconscious mind, absorbing information from our environment like the sponges, without the ability to filter any of it. Neurologically speaking we operate in Theta brainwaves - which is the same state our brains are in during the hypnosis.
This wouldn’t be a problem if we lived in the ideal world, as then the programming we received would be kind, healthy and empowering. But as we know, this world is far from perfect , and children are oftentimes exposed to all kinds of unfair or even traumatic situations, and pick up some less than healthy beliefs along the way. As well as adopt various strategies, aka coping mechanisms, in order to survive whatever they are faced with. Strategies that make sense for a child, yet significantly limit the adult. Child’s resources and the ability to discern are usually limited, hence why they aren’t able to question whether the adaption is healthy or true, as long as it helps to cope in the moment. But we tend to carry those mechanisms into the adulthood with us, and they tend to become increasingly maladaptive, hindering us in many ways as the time goes by.
Most of those strategies are firmly rooted in our shadow, the subconscious part of our psyche, but even what’s visible on the surface, a lot of the time is hardly a free and authentic part of us. In fact, a big part of what we call a personality, is sort of a defence system, a mask, a construct that limits us on a daily basis without us even being aware of it. Not unless we commit to inner work and the ever growing self- awareness. The truth is - all of us have various limiting beliefs, fears and defence mechanisms created in response to life’s events and the environments we were placed in. A lot of people seem to think that there’s something wrong with those who are on the path of self-development and healing, be it in the form of therapy, spirituality or both, and that unless one has mental health issues, why even bother? And the best answer to this I can think of is summed up in the following quote by one of the greatest philosophers of the last century:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti .
The truth is, while for some the wounding and conditioning was indeed more severe and unhealthy to begin with, manifesting as “mental health issues”, hence leaving no choice but to deal with it one way or another, absolutely everyone has something to address, something to integrate on their path to wholeness and freedom. Luckily, the attitudes are changing and more and more people embrace the transformation as a necessary part of life. The work you invest in yourself is not just about eliminating suffering, but also about welcoming more joy, happiness and freedom. It is about stepping fully into one’s power and capacity as a human being . It is a process, not an overnight process, it is a path that has a lot more to do with the journey, than the destination. The journey of gradually freeing yourself of the invisible chains that weighed you down for too long.
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