– being able to think, choose, and act without constraint, or my simplified definition – the ability to do what you want when you want.
The focus of my work has shifted slowly, but surely towards freedom; no surprise really, as it’s one of my core values. I’ve found myself wanting to go deeper, into what freedom means to others.
I asked online and here’s what came back:
Freedom is. . .
- the release of shoulds
- being free to be yourself at every moment
- giving yourself in service to others
- feeling unconstrained
- being able to choose how to spend my precious time
being able to still the turmoil in my mind
- the ability to be myself in all ways, everywhere
- knowing I am thinking my own thoughts, and not those of others
being able to speak my mind and do what I want, regardless of what anyone else thinks
- doing only things I love and choose
- having options, choices, and the opportunity to exercise one’s own will
Then there’s the more complicated, dictionary view:
Freedom – noun
1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
So what exactly is it?
I asked some respected friends and colleagues this question:
What does freedom mean to you, and how do you nourish it in your life?
Their words, and collective wisdom inspired me; so many flavours of freedom, each appealing in its own way and I realized the problem with freedom is that sometimes we take on someone else’s concept of freedom as our own.
Like letting someone who doesn’t know you pick a flavour of ice cream at random, you’re not likely to get what you want.
It’s why you might have the experience of constraint even when circumstances line up to produce the freedom you thought you were working towards.
So many options, grab a pink spoon and dip into the flavours below.
The Many Flavours of Freedom
To me, freedom means living in a free country (for me, this is the beloved US of A), wearing what I want, going where I desire, speaking my mind, creating the life of my dreams, that is ULTIMATE freedom and something that most may take for granted every day not because they are ungrateful or out of touch with reality, no way, simply because they cannot imagine NOT living in a free country since that is all they have ever known.
For good or for bad, I’ve known otherwise, so I know the taste of this freedom because I’ve known the taste of no freedom growing up in Iran.
Farnoosh Brock, Published Author & Business Coach, FastTrackPromotion.
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” – Nelson Mandela
I’ve never thought of having freedom because I’ve never felt like I was in captivity. But, if anything I do ever starts to feel like I suddenly have less freedom, then I stop doing it immediately.
One of the ways I manage to stay free is by saying no. I say no to almost everything that comes my way. New work requests, collaborations, invitations, interviews, requests to “pick my brain” (if you think about it literally, it’s also kind of gross), etc. Why? Because anything I actually say yes to, I focus on and work at until the task is completed.
The less I say yes to the more free I am. And opening up that freedom allows me to be open to saying yes only to things which I truly don’t mind trading my time and focus for.
Paul Jarvis, Web Designer, Author, & Gentleman of adventure
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison
Freedom is the joy of living infinite possibility; the experience of bliss as I choose to center into presence with love and gratitude, then move through the world creating and connecting from heart-space.
Because I allow my heart whispers to lead, I don’t know where I am going, who will “be there” or what specifically will be created; yet, that uncertainty thrills *and* inspires me to keep exploring. I am learning to celebrate each step – allowing that gratitude to be the current that moves me.
Freedom is the choice to be love and to celebrate that love, regardless of external. It is an overflowing current of peace – a source that can transform anything. Freedom is the desire to open heart to receive, to surrender to joy, to embrace life as I am, as it is, in each moment.
Energetically, freedom is resonance with spirit. I nourish the feel of freedom in my life daily, and throughout each day, as I center into practices of presence to unfolding. These practices include: gratitude, meditation, lots of time spent in nature and silence, varying forms of body movement, vesting in only that which feels enlivening and enriching, holding my heart-space and home-space as a sacred container and honoring transparency in my connections.
Most importantly, freedom is the space to allow these truths of now to evolve into something different with each step – to fully feel and express all that heart wishes to, judgment and barrier-free.
Joy Holland, Intuitive Empath, Energy & Clarity Facilitator, Facets of Joy.com
“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner
Freedom to me is being open and willing to question everything I think I know about the world: a free mind if you like, with attachment to values and opinions, no judgement, no beliefs, yup all those things that make me, well, me. But that’s it, me is Dawn, woman, Scottish, ginger haired, dog loving nut. But that is not who I am. I = love. For me, freedom, real freedom, ultimate freedom is those rare sporadic moments of no thought. Just peace.
Freedom, to me, is no fear. Where fear exists, a mind is imprisoned.
Freedom, is free. I believe, we are born free but the fears in the minds of others (individually or collectively) make us earn and pay for what is our birthright.
I never thought about nurturing freedom before, but as you ask: I would say I am in a constant practice (sometimes battle) to catch and correct the voice that keeps me imprisoned in my own mind (with its made-up misinformation of others telling me this is how the world is). And I suppose you could also call it nurturing when I have those (rare but wonderful) moments when I am able to separate ‘the made up me’ from ‘I’. I’m thinking we’ve all felt the freedom moments, but the world (IMO) keeps trying to teach us otherwise.
Dawn Barclay, Coach, Trainer, would-be Cheerleader/Cocktail Waitress, Living Moxie
“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison
Ahhh…. Freedom. The very word makes my mouth water with its juiciness.
Freedom means different things to different people. Freedom to speak without persecution, freedom to live where you want or freedom to marry who you love. Freedom to travel or just sit on the porch watching the world go by.
The list is endless and so when Sandi asked me the question “What does freedom mean to you, and how do you nourish it in your life?” I really had to look at why my heart beats faster when I hear the word.
Here’s what it comes down to for me:
Freedom means choice. Every moment of every day, I get to choose. I am free to choose to spend my day alone, writing or reading. Or to spend it with friends, nourishing my soul. A little more than a year ago, I chose to leave a 20 year career and follow my soul’s calling. In that moment, I stepped into my Freedom. My world opened, my heart grew and my life became Freedom defined.
Jill Prescott, Harmony Integration Coach & Clinical Hypnotherapist, Tangent Path Personal Coaching
“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be free? (Choose free.)” – Danielle LaPorte
Freedom to me means that you are not controlled by anyone or anything. You have the power to decide all aspects of your life.
I nourish freedom in my life by making thoughtful choices and by making sure that at any time I can go in a different direction that will work better for me and those close to me.
Cathy Taughinbaugh, Coach & Writer, Regain Your Hope
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Gandhi
Freedom to me is choosing to live in a state of love and peace — with myself, others and the world. The key for me is to watch my thoughts. I can easily terrorize myself with my ego or smaller self.
If I’m in a state of peace I am free. I am “love”, being loving. When I’m not at peace, I’m not free. I’m unhappy and miserable.Freedom is internal. It has nothing to do with a job, physical beauty, education, money or success.
I’ve been a student of A Course In Miracles and have participated in study groups for 25 years. I am a runner. I have a morning routine. I use affirmations. And I’ve learned to quickly give up the need to be right.
Tess Marshall, Author, Speaker & Personal Development-industry Entrepreneur, Take Your Fear and Shove It
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl
Freedom is an open, spacious, and loving state of mind independent of externals like possession or circumstances, which can unexpectedly collapse in a flash. Freedom means not being enslaved by my thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. I practice seeing them like clouds passing by in the sky, impermanent and ever-changing, and not the real “me.”
Instead of clinging to whatever rises in my mind, I aspire to remain in my true self, an unchanging pure awareness, and extend a good heart to all. I nourish this sense of freedom through cultivating mindfulness, presence, and awareness in daily meditation and life as well.
Sandra Pawula, Freelance Writer & Inner Explorer, Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress
“The longing for happiness and freedom from suffering expresses the great natural potential of mind.” – Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
Freedom has 2 meanings for me. The first is the legal/societal one.
Thirty years ago, as a woman, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing today. As a matter of fact, 34 years ago, as a very young broadcasting executive who happened to be female and pregnant, I was interviewed on a TV show about working/being pregnant/and planning to come back to work after giving birth.
So as a baby boomer, I very much appreciate the inroads that women of my generation have made so that the women of today have more choices and the freedom to select how they’re going to live.
The second is my inner emotional freedom. This (IS) about my awareness, desire, and persistence in navigating to rid myself of self-imposed constraints on how I see and imagine myself and the world.
It’s about waking up each morning with the knowledge that I have the power about how I journey through the day – that I am in charge of my emotions, activities, and thoughts. I am free to be the real me, to let me (MY) soul shine through, to radiate love and light and to live with integrity.
This is how I infuse it into to my daily life:
- To read, write, row, walk, meditate, play music without any interruption, or someone telling me that I need to be somewhere or do something.
- To smile at other people on the street and send them silent blessings ~
- To be loved and love, to be both vulnerable and strong and to be right and wrong
- To live with ambivalence – knowing that there is no one right solution/answer
Fran Sorin, Author, Gardening expert, deep ecologist, and soul tender
“Freedom always follows truth.” – Danielle LaPorte
I grew up in an orthodox family where money was scarce and love was abundant. Good behavior meant not questioning anything and accepting everything the “elders” said, even if they were not always right. I am lucky to have been raised by my Mother who encouraged me to rebel and insisted I listen to my heart and soul.
True freedom – being free, to me, means practicing:
- self control
- mental discipline
- tolerance of others
- unconditional love
- connecting with my inner teacher
- appreciation of everything I have
- letting go of negative beliefs and thoughts
- exercising the right of choice
- being open to abundance
- being progressive in thought and action
- being fearless
- not looking for approval before acting
- self-expression and speaking up
- consciously giving my best at all times
- not holding grudges, ever
- living in the present moment
- giving back to my society in every way I can
- being true to myself and others I connect with
- trusting my intuition
- never losing hope
- making the right choices
Vidya Sury, Happy Mom, Freelance Writer, Business Blogger, VidyaSury.com
“Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.” – Moshe Dayan
Over to you:
What is your flavour of freedom?