"The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at any given moment." - Gandhi
One's definition of "freedom" depends on which part of the world one calls home. In America, freedom implies independence -- that you can come and go as you please. But in some ancient cultures, freedom is more a perspective than an external condition. The yogis say freedom is a state of mind.
Here are three secrets the yogis have practiced for thousands of years to enhance their sense of freedom.
1. Surf the Wave.
I often use surfing analogies, but to tell you the truth, I've only managed to surf one truly big wave in my 34 years. But those 20 seconds I cruised along the face of that wave were the most amazing, ecstatic, brilliant 20 seconds of my life. It was my Bon Jovi "Blaze of Glory" moment for the ages. Emerson once said, "Adopt the pace of nature," and for those 20 seconds, nature swept me into its speed and rhythm. I was IN (nature's) SPIRIT, or -- one could say -- INSPIRED.
Staying in the moment amidst turbulence and challenge is similar to staying on your surfboard amidst a powerful wave. To the person who is truly present, life becomes a giant wave of meaning and power.
"Every tree and plant in the meadow seemed to be dancing, which average eyes would see as fixed and still." - Rumi
2. Open the Floodgates.
The yogis prescribe occasionally shutting down the mind and opening up to a fresh flow of ideas and energies. This "fresh flow" is called, in Sanskrit, "prerana." You get a hit of prerana when you see great live music, or hang out in nature, or experience an awesome yoga class. In other words, when you shut down the mind and immerse yourself in natural beauty, you open the floodgates to inspiration, freedom, and hope.
"Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope." -Anonymous
3. Run Wild.
I was reading how two tiger kittens were raised in a zoo. When released into the wild, the tigers remembered how to catch their prey and dispense that killer bite ... but then they didn't know to eat the dead animal. Having been fed out of the back of a truck at the zoo, the young tigers suffered a partial disconnect from their instincts.
Humans experience a similar challenge when held captive by constant TV and pop culture entertainment. It's as if we're being hand-fed how to think, just like the kittens were being hand-fed out of the back of that truck. Sometimes it's important to shut down the TV and turn off the computer. We enhance our sense of independence and freedom when we set ourselves free to roam the imagination's wide open terrain.
So be sure to take time to let your mind think creative thoughts and dream wild dreams.
"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery -- none but ourselves can free our mind." - Bob Marley