“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
(LOOK how DRAMATIC that title is!! OH, I am laughing so hard right now at myself. Of course I KNOW you all (my myriads of blog readers) have just been waiting with baited breath for my word, worried over my recent panic about it…oh god! I am so full of myself, hysterical!)
Several weeks ago, in my 11th step yoga practice, the word FREE came to me clear as a bell, hand-delivered via meditation, perfect. I knew it was perfect. Yet I allowed my little monkey mind to attempt to talk me out of it, make it seem less perfect than it was, second-guess myself right into insanity and panic. The first rule of thumb in picking a word should be the ease with which it comes, I KNOW that. I don’t know what happened other than I got the idea in my head that my 2013 word, OPEN, was so powerful and amazing and that the follow-up had to be, at the very least, almost as good. (AS an aside: I just looked back at my post for last year and saw the the word OPEN came to me exactly the same way…lying in shevasana in 11th step yoga. T0 further highlight the yoga/meditation connection, I apparently have been leaning toward this word for a while, as I wrote a post about it one August night after yoga entitled Being Free)
I woke up in the morning of December 17, after writing my panic post the night before, and decided to pick up a book I am reading prior to getting out of bed. It’s nice to loll around and quietly wake up. And the first chapter I read had this quote in it, from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones:,
“I used to think freedom meant doing whatever you want. It means knowing who you are, what you are supposed to be doing on this earth and then simply doing it.”
I don’t know how much clearer and true that can be. THAT! That is what I want and that is why I chose FREE for my word of the year.
I like these words from the Buddha. No efforts to freedom, just, finally, seeing the truth. The truth of this existence, the truth of the paths we are all on.
Of course, I still believe that there can’t really be freedom without struggle. I’m not saying I had to liberate myself from any kind of outside tyranny; but my own mind and the thoughts it generates is enough of a prison for me. I choose that over freedom a lot. Why? The question of the ages folks. I’m tired though, so very tired of it all. Something needs to change, has already begun to change actually. I have been meditating on this word now for a while, trying it on, discarding it and then taking it back. That’s the thing about the word for the year, it works you. It’s hard to explain the concept if you haven’t experienced it, but being cognizant of the word is the only actual work you have to do. I have been back settled on this since the 17th and I think my last few posts have shown that word working me.
“I am blown away by your epiphany at, of all places, a church. Wow Universe. Just wow”…Lynn, Texas Pal, vie text message. (And yes, people often have descriptive phrases alongside their names in my text line-up. Sue me!)
Lynn is referring to my Christmas Eve post. I don’t know what compelled me to go to Church that night other than the idea that I wanted to hear a choir on Christmas Eve. Yep, wow Universe. Even the fact I went was meaningful…I haven’t been for 7 years.
Is it ok to quote myself? What the hell…..”I want to be free of this…these feelings of guilt, self pity, sadness that ruin everything big for me, that stop my life, that stop my going forward into the world. I have done a lot of work and will continue too, but I have to work to be free of the sense that it can’t get better…it already IS better.”
Universe asks Michele :”how free did you want to be, sweetie? ” Michele answers Universe: “willing to go to any lengths free”.
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutra
“Plague everyone with joy”…don’t you love that? Of course, the pivotal sentence for me is “we are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds”. I included the picture of the Phoenix ornament I bought for myself this Xmas. It represents change; the Phoenix rising from the ashes, regenerating itself constantly. Free, free as a bird. (I have a phoenix tattoo on my back; it all aligns beautifully when I allow myself to see it).
“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
― Albert Einstein
I like to write a sentence/blessing that my friend Jo says a lot : May all beings be free, no exception. When we are free we CAN widen that circle, grow outward with love and compassion and not only embrace but work on freeing the rest of the universe. Freedom begins at home, right? “But we can’t transmit something we haven’t got….”
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
When I was in Italy I was fascinated by all the unfinished statues by Michaelangelo in the hall leading up to his David. I was reading The Agony And The Ecstasy on that trip and using it as a sort of tour guide (hint for anyone traveling to Italy!). Michelangelo started carving and then saw that none of these wanted to be free, like the angel he speaks of, above, or the David, or the other pieces he sculpted. There is a voice he heard in the marble of his finished work, screaming to be free. That voice is in all of us, in me certainly. It gets drowned out by the voices that want to keep me small and contained, but what if that voice won, what if, as Marianne Wiliamson says, I “stopped playing small”? Maybe I’d find that thing I was supposed to do and simply do it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
“Liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. Not that I’m that important, but that when I get out of my own way I make space for others to get out of theirs; when I am free I can allow you to be too.
Taking the idea farther, freedom, true freedom is a rebellion against all the ways that the world holds us back, or we perceive that it holds us back. Except the world really doesn’t does it? We do it to ourselves. I do it to myself, and that needs to change. “Liberated from fear” is a lofty goal, but an essential one. Every single thing that I count as something that I don’t like about myself, or that keeps me useless, is based on fear.
“Instructions for freedom”:
1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.
2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.
3. The day is ending, it’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You are being here is God’s response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.
5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.
6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.
7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.
8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.
9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It’s safe, let go.
10. When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.”
Let go seems to be the operative lesson here, yes? I loved this when I saw it. I have loved a quote I found after Tom died, written in his hand, ” When you come to the end of all you know, you must believe in one of two things; there will be earth upon which to stand, or you will be given wings”. This quote by Elizabeth Gilbert reminded me of that one but has me looking at it differently. She says “….let go, then climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy”. It struck me, for the first time, that that is what I am to do, clamber down from the mountain and move ahead, live my life. I don’t get the wings to fly; Tom took those. I get to stand on the earth, I get to live, whether I always want to or not. That is my job now, to live freely and with joy , to have my intention be freedom from useless suffering. Only love remains.
I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.
I am the worlds worst texter, actually typist (noting all the typos I am constantly fixing and still see later after I have already published). But texting is really crazy because of auto-correct. Last year I texted a friend and ended it with xoxxo..but what came out was an Auto-Corrected “Cocoon”. Ever since then we often sign off with that as our goodbye. Last year my word was OPEN, and the next logical word is FREE, right? The cocoon opens and the butterfly is loosed upon the world. I knew that when it came to me in meditation, flowing smoothy into my mind while it was at rest. And let me add this from my Imaginary friend Christy (also via text, and yes, that is how she is entered in my phone):
” ……it’s a perfect transition from OPEN. The cocoon must open first for the butterfly to gain her freedom. Freedom, as happiness, is a choice. And you are saying yes”.
“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We will know a new freedom and happiness.”
Big Book page 83
Let me close with a prayer, a beautiful metta meditation from Tara Brach, someone whose teaching and wisdom has made a difference in my life this year. The metta meditation practice in itself is amazing, it is so freeing. It is a loving gesture out toward others, even those we resent, and there is nothing more freeing than letting go of a good resentment.There are different ways to do it, and many different words can be used. Hand on heart, I like to start with praying for myself, then move to someone I dearly love, then to an acquaintance, then someone I do not like or have problems with and finally end with everyone, everywhere.
May all beings be free, no exception. Including me, especially me. FREE. This is my practice for 2014
May all beings realize their essence as loving awareness.
May all beings live their lives from this awakened heart.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings touch great, natural peace.
May there be peace on earth, peace everywhere.
May all beings awaken and be free.
~ True Refuge