After I had written on my to-do list about 5 times “write new blog” I realized I was spending more time thinking about writing than I was writing. I was allowing one of the 5 “obstacles” to creativity to get in the way of giving the gift of my heart and receiving the gifts of heartfelt creativity. When we are “thinking” about doing something, sometimes its just easier to roll up our sleeves and start working. Its amazing what happens in those moments. Inspiration from deep within bubbles up. Or, at least I hope that is how it works as I don’t really have any well thought out plan here. What I do have is one IMMENSE question. What is true Freedom? I was at a church service last weekend and the pastor was trying to answer that question. So, I started thinking…..
At the same time, I watched part of the debates last week and have followed political dialogues over the last few years on Freedom. I am not a politician, but I can tell you that Democratic freedom is wonderful and yet it does not guarantee the internal personal freedom I will describe. Having said that we live in an amazing culture where we get the freedom to discuss this and to “pursue happiness.” That is cool. However, political and economic systems will not inherently get us there. Some are better than others in helping people be happy and this has been demonstrated through the scientific review of happiness. Yet, there is something more. There is something that transcends time, belief, ideology, political party and economy.
To me, Freedom is an internal state where are at peace with our life’s unresolved challenges. We are inherently happy regardless of the external circumstances of our lives. Seng-tsan – a Zen master said that real freedom, TRUE freedom was a state of being “without anxiety about imperfection.” Real freedom is that we are free from anxiety about the stuff of life that is “imperfect”. Our schedules. Our work. Our yards. Our dishes. Our undone to-do items. Our bodies. We are without anxiety about the elections and about the future of the real estate market. We are without anxiety about the European Debt crisis. We are without anxiety about the inevitable, and necessary, turbulence of life. We are connected to some deep, intrinsic awareness of something that is fundamentally whole and good – we are connected to the essence of our hearts. We are connected, daily, moment by moment to that innate vital pulse of life that is our True Nature. We have realized that life is much more than any external circumstance could ever be, and that all our external challenges are there to force us to grow to our full potential so that we may contribute more wholly to others.
Life’s inherent imperfections are simply another way of looking at life’s inherent perfections – this moment, this breath, this song, this cup of tea, this pair of eyes staring back at me, this amazing life that I live, this beating heart. The perfection of the tides. Of the seasons. Of the sun warming us and giving us life. The inherent perfection of the amazing sea of synchronicity that is even leading you to read this blog. The ocean of serendipity that has brought you to where you are this moment. Wow. That’s big.
Its not that we do not care deeply about our lives, about what is happening, about the state of the world. Rather, we are free from the neurotic fear-mongering that appears to be the norm in our electronic, manic social media world. We are free of destructive and addictive patterns of stress, anxiety, and the resulting reactions to life that keep the cycle going on and on and on. Without green trees, you will never see a green forest. Without truly whole, connected and happy people, we will never know a truly happy and whole society, regardless of economic or political leaning. The more whole we are, the more we are connected to this vast compassion and inner fortitude, the more we actually authentically care and the more we can actually respond with focused energy and productive solutions. We become more responsible, more response-able. Unfettered by the past, and untouched by the future, we are filled with a luminous glow of energy that is remarkably resourceful, potent, vital, and creative. We embody true creativity and true expansive intellect. I fully believe that this is the great potential of every human being.
When I was a child – in pre school and elementary school – I had terrible anxiety. I worried about everything. I worried so much I was diagnosed with a couple of different things that don’t exactly bolster self-esteem. I was writing letters to Ronald Reagan to end the Nuclear Arms Race, I was ill with frustration and worry about the Apartheid situation in South Africa. I worried about my parents unhappiness. I worried about my health. I am so grateful for this time in my life as it pushed my by the sheer pain it created to face at a very early age the stark possibility that either I awaken to something more true or I would live a life of deep unhappiness. A couple of years later, I had a “mind-shattering” spiritual experience at the age of 9 that began to shift everything for me. It was not until I was 15 that the deep practices that blasted my heart open took hold and I began the amazing and grace-filled path of waking up. So, I get it. I know what it is like to be completely bound and unhinged. And like you, I would not be satisfied with fluffy new-age talk or pithy sermons. I wanted to know for myself what was Real – and to know who, What, I truly was. And that can only happen through direct experience.
When we are thus anchored in this deep inner peace, this deep inner joy, we are FREE to take action, we are free to set goals, and we are free to work persistently, diligently, playfully, and patiently towards the work of our life. We are less and less identified with the personality and our “sensitive-selves” so we can show up as courageous warriors. We are able to engage in the relative world with ease and dignity because we are tapped in to the Heart of who we are. We are thus free from anxiety about life’s imperfections. We get it – we get the great cosmic joke that every imperfection in our life is actually a gateway into healing. Every challenge we have had, every wound we bore had a hidden medicinal value – to heal us at the core of our being. Every dream passion we have is a calling to live our life purpose and hold nothing back. In following those dreams, by playing full out fearlessly, we will encounter the very life curriculum that has been designed to set us free.
When we are free from anxiety about life’s imperfections we can embody the most powerful emotion known to man – COURAGE. In many situations, most people feel they lack something. In truth there is one emotion that will help us cross the great chasm of doubt and lack and that is courage. The heartfelt courage born of failure, challenge, trust, and that deep knowing. We know, like we did when we were kids and we stared with awe at the star-filled night that there was some Mighty Force moving in us and in the Universe and that there was no possible way we were alone. It is the greatest joy we could ever know. Courage helps us show up day in and day out, give our absolute best, commit to life 100%, and playfully manifest or Highest Self in the midst of life’s imperfections. We become grateful for our challenges, for life’s imperfections, because without them we would be without the fuel to change. Just like a car without gasoline, without imperfection and challenge we would have nothing to actually move us forward in life. And to not grow is to die – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, you are saying, “great for you Dr. Lyon, you got it all together. What about me? I don’t even know where to start. I am stuck in my life.” First, I don’t have it all together. That is the point. That very stuck-ness you may feel and that very ‘not-knowing’ are the very imperfections I am talking about. That is where we begin. We always begin right where we are. And we put our big boy and big girl pants on and we step up with courage. We endeavor that, no matter what the cost to our egos, we will wake up. We will live our life purpose, and if we are clueless about that, we will work diligently and patiently to uncover it. We will endeavor to grow, to serve, and to create the loving relationships that foster this great awakening. As my first Zen teacher told me when I was in high school, “Matt, you must search for the truth like a man whose hair is on fire looking for a pond.” Willingness opens more doors than your intellect ever could. Grace is the currency that makes you rich. And courage helps us step with dignity and purposefulness into our greatness. This is the ultimate health.
Now the reality is, we have to have an integral approach to this, and many of my articles before have addressed this. In short, we must attend to the Spirit in the ways that call us – with discipline and persistence. It is imperative to heal the body, nervous system and brain of its patterns of stress and reactivity through evidence based practices like we do at the Network Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC. Its critical to exercise our body with movement and to exercise our mind by learning, reading, goals, and daily silence. The body must be fed with living foods that give us the energy to push ahead. We need to cultivate deep personal relationships. We must practice gratitude. We must create a map of our life and dreams so that we can take congruent actions. Without action, this is all fluff as action forms your destiny.
Follow your heart, trust your gut, and get good people in your life that will push you forward in every dimension. And when it comes time to commit, commit. Don’t hold back anymore – if you really think about it, you “deserve” so much more than you allow yourself to experience and be. The great thing about a decision is that it only comes alive when we take action. So decide now what it is you want and go for it. And find out for yourself what it means to embody true freedom. Find out for yourself how sweet it is to be without anxiety about life’s imperfections. And find out the great gift that you are, to be unwrapped as you live an unbounded life in the midst of imperfection.
Dr. Matt Lyon
Charlotte, NC Chiropractor + Coach
Network Spinal Analysis
Somato Respiratory Integration
Strategic Intervention Coaching