The freedom to follow your dreams.
The freedom to say no. The freedom to say YES!
The freedom to walk away from things that aren’t a fit in your life anymore.
The freedom to carve your own path.
The freedom to look for the juiciest, most fulfilling way to spent your day.
The freedom to only be concerned with growth, love and serving the world.
For many years freedom was one of the highest values in my life. I love to feel free in mostly everything I do. No strings attached. Here now but might be gone the next moment. Open schedule, available to do whatever feels good in the moment. Following my feelings. As if a big neo sign with blinking lights is always flashing it’s powerful meaning at me and seducing me to go where it’s pointing.
But recently I’ve started to notice something. I didn’t want to see it at first. Who wants to believe their great love has a different side to them? But what has been seen, can’t be unseen. So I had to admit this to myself: freedom has a dark side.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah’s bestie and author of Eat, Love, Pray and recently Big Magic, talked about creativity on her visit to Amsterdam. The kind of creativity we can all add to our lives here and there. Taking up iceskating if that makes you happy. Writing a poem every now and then or throwing colors together on a canvas to see what appears. But really, she talked about living life. Taking it on, even when feeling the fear for failure, being judged, not being seen, being seen etc. She said that, in order for us to get to the juicy stuff in life, we have to go through the boredom. ‘Writing: amazing and often boring. Marriage: wonderful and also very boring. Sex: delicious and sometimes boring! Travel: the best thing there is and at times incredibly boring.’
To get to the beauty, to the satisfaction, to the exhilaration of creation, you have to
1. show up
If a writer is tired of sitting behind the computer, doesn’t feel like writing anymore, and would get up and go do something else every time, no books would ever be finished. No paintings would be created if the painter wouldn’t stay and go through the frustrating moments. No business would ever be successful if the entrepreneur would switch activities every time she got bored. No delicious meal would be made without all the boring chopping beforehand.
I have created so much freedom in my life that I don’t really have to do many things that I find boring. Of course there’s stuff that’s gotta happen. But on the whole I’m pretty free in deciding when, where, how and if. When I experience that feeling of ickyness, I just go do something else for a little bit. It’s easy to move anyway from boredom when you have the freedom to do so. It’s not so easy stay and commit when you could also change focus. But I’ve learned it’s not the external focus that I need to change. It’s my internal perception.
I’m currently doing a Kundalini yoga teacher training. These are not weekends full of relaxing and chilling and being happy. We get up and 4 o’clock, take a cold shower and start the day with a 2,5 hour set of reciting mantra’s and moving the body. Many Kundalini exercises are small movements that you repeat for a certain amount of minutes. Usually no flow or relaxation there. The meditations can be pretty tough as well. Holding your arms up in the air while breathing fiercely for 11 minutes, to give you an example. While the body is perfectly able to do this, it does begin to shake of feel tired. The biggest challenge with this is in the mind. The mind starts thinking of reasons why not to finish the exercise. ‘It’s pointless, it’s too hard.’ And my mind’s favorite: ‘It’s boring.’ What’s yours?
Kundalini teaches us that commitment is the first step to happiness. When you can commit to something, you build character. You’ll be trustworthy to yourself and others. You’ll be able to break through the blocks and reach that juicy point.
Staying when something get’s boring allows you to get to the other side of boring. It’s gives acces to the next level. Think about studying for a test, working out, traveling, moving house, renovating, cleaning. All of these things can be enjoyable. And there might also be moments where you just don’t feel like doing it. But the rewards come when you stay and keep showing up.
‘Keep up and you’ll be kept up.’
~ Yogi Bhajan
So what if the need to experience freedom all the time is holding you back from making commitments? What if freedom itself is limiting you by blocking the possibility to committing to something that will be rewarding in the end? Like a committed loving relationship, having kids, buying a beautiful home, finish writing your book, building meaningful friendships and family relationships, keeping a vegetable garden, running a successful blog, graduating, losing the weight, overcoming anxiety, having a successful career or business.
All these things will give us plenty of opportunity to check out because they will get boring at one point. But it’s what comes after the boring part, that’s magic.
It’s like the seasons. Winter will want to make us escape the cold and look for a ‘better’ place where it’s warm and palmtrees grow. (Only to learn that, after a while, we will long for the beauty of the changing seasons and the fun winter has to offer to us. Palmtrees get boring too.) We forget that new life appears in spring, after winter.
Climbing a mountain might be hard, but the view is so worth it. Getting through a Kundalini class can be challenging, but I feel so great afterwards. Whatever you put in, you get out of it.
Can you sit with yourself, when there is nothing around you to entertain you? When the outside world seems boring and you’re invited to turn inwards? Can you tame your mind so you decide what you’ll be doing, instead of following it’s urges for immediate satisfaction and call it freedom? Can you release the need to get external stimulation all the time? Can you create and hold space for creativity and joy to come in?
Can you get a sense of the type of freedom it takes to commit?