Liberation. I've long had a fascination with what liberation really is. It’s a word that often gets tossed out as the goal in psychotherapy, yoga, meditation. Liberation. Whatever the reason, we all crave liberation, freedom. We want the freedom to do, be and have. We crave freedom from pain and suffering AND the freedom to express that elaborately unique expression of consciousness that moves through us as us.
Our clients want the same freedom. And therein lies the rub for many who work in social justice. Due to misguided policies that have led to institutionalized racism, misogyny and more, not everyone begins on an equal playing field. Yet the desire for freedom is the same for all of us.
Freedom is deeply encoded in our being. We can all turn towards liberation within, seeking a freedom inside, from all the ways we stay bound. Though it sounds enchanting and is delightful on the tongue, liberation, it can also seem so unattainable and intimidating that we turn away from freedom as a real goal or don’t give it much thought. It's just easier to stay caught up in the dramas and stories of life.
You might go to a yoga class, enjoy the practice and leave behind the real promise and goal of yoga. Or maybe you get lost in the pain behind your client's stories, forgetting what the real goal is. Like clients, maybe you believe that you don’t have it in you to do what you think is required. Or maybe, you think that even if you tried, liberation is probably not yours, not in this lifetime.
Like many of our clients, maybe you are someone who thinks of liberation as something that happens to you. You are liberated by some force of Consciousness. It’s not in your hands. Yet, you are the only one with the power to turn towards and express liberation in your life. It’s really no wonder that there’s intimidation and lack of clarity about liberation as the definition itself can be varied and vague.
I tend to think of liberation as being more of a continuum rather than one big event. I believe that there are shades of liberation. We work toward it as we work toward any goal, realizing along the way, the goal and the path are one. In this way, I see liberation as both the journey and the destination.
One of the guiding definitions of liberation for me is the freedom to choose. I can freely choose my thoughts, words, and deeds. In these choices, I move myself into being, doing and having. Further, the only real point of freedom for any of us is freedom in the present moment.
AND, our only real sphere of influence for choosing in the present moment are the choices we make in thought, word and deed. There we have freedom. In our thoughts, words, and deeds, we can begin turning towards liberation.
Yet, many of us don’t use that freedom well. We are deeply influenced by unconscious impressions that store our memories, habits, and patterns. In this way, our reactions tend to be more unconscious than conscious. Even when we do bring our unconscious impressions to the conscious mind, the thoughts and opinions can still be so centered in the conditioned self that our responses are driven by compulsion rather than true freedom.
This alignment with conditioning causes pain. Pain, in this sense, is the ego dutifully playing its role, veiling our truest essence, the truth about others and the nature of life. Pain is inevitable in life. Pain comes even to the most ascended human beings.
Yet, that very pain is golden. Within that pain and the healing release of that pain, we can find freedom – freedom from unconsciously choosing what that pain would lead us to choose. Pain holds a golden key for us and it’s what we do with pain that tells us whether we are turning toward liberation or if we are aligned and identified with the ego.
Pain is a great teacher. Pain tells us where our unconscious stuff is getting triggered. Trying to protect ourselves and those we love from pain is an impossible feat. But if you lean into the pain, with the right support, if you allow pain to reveal those places where you are thinking, speaking or doing from conditioning rather than from heart, pain can give you an expanded awareness that grants you more room. Room to be and room to choose. FREEDOM. Space begins to open up around the habitual conditioning, those unconscious impulses. In that spaciousness, you can choose more freely from an expanded awareness and broadened perspective.
Choices become more conscious. Essentially, one shade of liberation is being free of the unconscious and compulsive choices of the egoic conditioning. In this way, we can cultivate a life lived from pure awareness.
Consciously choosing your thoughts, words, and deeds comes not from ego but from the spaciousness of your deepest Essence, the Divine living in you, through you, as you is the very soul of FREEDOM. With AAIT, liberation becomes something you do, something you turn towards.
Turning towards freedom is a conscious act.
PM me if you are ready to take your healing arts practice to a whole new level. The next cohort of trainees begin in August.
P.S. Photo credit to David Patterson. He took this lovely shot on a morning run in DC.