Long ago and far away. Freedom from allegiance to Britain. Freedom of common defense. Freedom of friendship among states to include assistance to each other in times of disagreement based on unlawful authority, religion, or trade. These freedoms—taken from specific Articles of Confederation—are part of the Declaration of Independence, officially signed on August 2, 1776. This is our nation’s 243rd birthday celebration.
Amid fireworks that symbolize these outward freedoms, guaranteed in writing, let us acknowledge that, individually, we can take the initiative to pursue an inner freedom from personal distress and pain. Yes, it is possible to experience less stress, pain, and heartache.
Ancient wisdom suggests we create this downward spiral for ourselves. How? By expecting more: more experiences, more options, more knowledge or more “stuff.” The choice of “more” often derails us from dealing with the truth of our challenges. We believe we are effectively becoming more aware yet, we are simply chasing illusions.
When we meet with what we do not expect or want, (terminal health prognosis; a lesser job, no job, or forced retirement; unrequited love; or the struggles of raising a differently abled child), we dig in and oppose. Then, going beyond the initial resistance, we end up fighting what comes to us, “what is.”
It is this internal battle that increases our distress and deepens our unhappiness. Resistance may show up as doubt, insistence of preferences, negative thoughts, a constricted or tight heart, or the belief that we know all the answers.
Spiritual teachings share: “There are four unavoidable physical sufferings: birth, old age, sickness, and death. There are also three forms of mental suffering: separation from the people we love; contact with the people we dislike, and frustration of desires.”
There will always be life challenges—that is the nature of impermanence and humanness. They will never go away. We never will completely solve all problems—not that we should stop trying—yet a more expansive viewpoint could be helpful. Turning to acceptance, the absence of negativity, we begin to be aware of the things we need to release. We will be fine without them—quite possibly, we will live even better. Coming to terms with this revelation is not always easy.
Seeking the little things that bring beauty, pleasure, and connection with a cause greater than ourselves, encourages us to breathe and be in harmony with life. Observing nature, feeling exhilarated from an invigorating walk or run, reconnecting with friends, hearing the story behind a stunning piece of artwork, writing, recreating a family heirloom recipe, or experiencing heartfelt music transcend the mundane.
We experience awe in the moment, no longer overthinking a situation. We accept just this moment, even though it may seem like a limitation. Up close and personal. Within all the freedoms we currently enjoy, we seek some freedom from our situation. Some form of beauty, some small thing that resonates with our heart. We focus and are grateful, stretching out this feeling of beauty and gratitude until we begin to feel calmer and more aligned within. A greater energy moves in, around, and through us.
This is not about “the situation”; rather, it is about each moment that comes to us, as it is, in the thick of things. How do we handle those moments? We practice glimpsing one, small instant and finding awe in it. Gratitude will naturally follow. Then, it’s choosing to find beauty in each moment, over and over, until answers are made known to us.
From a higher vantage: The more we accept the moment, the more stable we are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We feel freedom from much of life’s drama and welcome less personal suffering. We are safe and deeply loved.
© 2019 in the thick of things