Liberty is a state of being free from oppressive restrictions over your way of life and having the power to pursue your own interests.
Liberty is one of our society's core values, but do we enjoy it?
Are our own hearts and minds free from oppressive restrictions? What's holding us back? What is getting in the way of our ability to chart our own course and pursue our own happiness?
Our society is struggling with a mental health crisis. Opioid addiction is running rampant throughout the nation. Our communities are polarized, subject to extreme views and divisive actions. We are all busy, overworked and struggling to find meaning and purpose in our lives. Our attention is literally consumed by the vast amount of news and information barraging us each and every day.
Is this liberty? Is this what we stand for and aspire to?
We all aspire to have a healthy mind and an open heart. We want to embody sacred human values, we want to have composure, presence and a joyful mind. We want to feel a sense of balance and ease in our life. We also want to be prepared for action, ready to act when called on.
Being in a state of presence and preparedness, that is what it means to have a firm hold on liberty.
A life of liberty is lived in the pursuit of truth and serving humanity. It is a life centered on practice. Just as a soldier trains to be ready to fight, so too we all must train to be ready to act for the benefit of others. Training is our job. It's not easy. It's not always fun. It is our work, the most important work worth doing. We train to be present and ready, even if the battle never comes.
The challenge that we are faced with is to see the gap. Is there a gap between where we are and what we aspire to be? What are we striving for? What does doing it right look like? Does failure mean we lost or that we have room to improve? Where are you getting stuck- emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally?
Change is possible. We can leave behind our small self. We can leave behind the self caged in the confines of its own limited self-talk. We can recognize our birth right, our innate potential, and follow that which is authentic and genuine.
The first step on this path of reclaiming our liberty starts with self-awareness. For too long we have been not listening, not seeing, not acknowledging and not understanding. We have been blinded by our indifference to our own oppressive restrictions. Self-awareness starts with seeing who we are, what do we value and how exactly do our actions align with those values?
Self-awareness leads to composure, to self-worth and to confidence. Self-awareness illuminates the nature of who we are and gives us a ground to stand on as we learn to adopt a posture of compassion.
With self-awareness we are able to manage our own thoughts and emotions. We are able to navigate the tension between how we feel and how we act. We can accept ourselves, which means we can start to accept others. We start to grow and change, and things start to make more sense.
This change won't happen overnight. It will ebb and flow, but through practice it will become more stable. A life centered on practice always moves through periods of learning, growth and change.
And this is enough. The challenge is to bring all situations onto the path. To be present and ready, to have the power to choose and the power to act.
This is how we reclaim our liberty.