The Freedom to be Free
The Closing Circle
I was at an event yesterday that concluded with a Group Circle.
Usually we sit around the outside of the room
and either meditate or chant together.
There were approximately 80 people in this big circle.
The facilitator said that she had a couple of
requests to do the circle standing.
Normally we are always sitting during this time.
The Hesitation To Change
I have been going for 10 years every week and
we have never stood for the closing circle.
At first people seem hesitant because we were all tired
and also it was something new.
It took a minute for people to wrap their heads
around this new idea, but eventually
people started standing up.
The Resistor Rears His Head
As they did this one guy started to exclaim:
“No no no. I don’t want to stand up.”
He started going on and on loud enough
for everyone in the room to hear.
“I’m not going to stand up.
We’re all very comfortable sitting.
Why should we stand up?”
He was looking around the room and
imploring others telling them that they
also didn’t have to stand up.
We were all a little stunned at the outburst
Everybody kind of just stopped and let him go on
until he was done and then
the facilitator led us in the closing.
A Divine Gift
I was absolutely fascinated with this guy and his antics.
So much so that before he even finished his rant
I knew I would be writing about him today!
Pain Just Beneath The Surface
Underneath his aggressive outburst
I could feel his pain, his longing and his fear.
He Was Free
The fact is, he was always completely free
to remain seated.
There were no security guards coming to make him stand up.
There was no peer pressure other than
the pressure he put on himself.
Nobody was staring at him, pointing fingers
and trying to get him to stand up.
Even if all those things did happen
he still had the freedom to sit
when everyone else was standing.
He was free, but he didn’t know it.
He didn’t have the freedom to be free.
He felt he had to proclaim his freedom
in order for it to be valid.
He also needed others to join in
so he could feel acceptable in doing
what he felt was right for him.
It was his inner child rebelling
Writing and speaking about parenting as much as I do
the connection to childhood was very clear to me.
This man was not given the freedom to be free
when he was young.
So in order to take his own space he felt
he needed to push back against
the perceived authority.
Children are not Encouraged to be Free
In my observation most children are not
encouraged to be free.
They are instead pushed to follow rules and
obey the authority of their parents.
Under the threat of physical, emotional or
spiritual pain they are made to fear their own will,
their own needs and desires .
Instead they are programmed to
place the desires of the authority figure
above their own.
A Lifetime of Limiting Effects
This plays out in many ways
throughout a person’s lifetime.
Some are subtle and some are obvious.
Some are even dangerous.
I wanted my Daughter to have the Freedom to be Free
From the day my daughter was born
I wanted her to follow her own heart
more than anything else.
I wanted her to know that
her needs and desires had value. That she didn’t have to sacrifice her integrity
to appease authority.
I didn’t want her thinking that it was necessary
to deny herrself in order to feel loved and accepted.
Obedience, Punishment and Consequences Erode Confidence
These are the messages that kids receive
through authoritarian, controlling
and obedience based parenting.
Punishment and consequences reinforce the idea
that their freedom is not valued.
True inner freedom does not need to proclaim itself
If this fellow had the inner confidence that
he was worthy of taking up his own space
he would not have felt the need
to make such a show.
He could simply have stayed seated and
been comfortable doing his own thing.
But this was simply not possible for him.
It is Possible to Reclaim our Freedom to be Free
It is something I have worked very hard on
over the past 20 years.
I have done so because I knew that if I wanted to
pass on that quality to my daughter
I had to be developing it in myself.
Over the years the two of us have learned together
to listen to and follow our hearts.
Letting Go Of Obedience
Of course I realized if I was sincere in my desire
to have my kid follow their own intuition
over the pressure of society or authority
then I could never insist that she obey me.
This was one of the hardest things to let go of.
And yet I also knew early on that it was
Changing my habitual programs was a challenging and painful process
I will say it took a couple of years of
consistently working on myself, watching my reactions
and modifying my thought and feeling patterns
for me to really embrace the idea.
Once I did though it brought so much peace and
harmony to our relationship.
This is because she could truly feel that my desire
was for her to be authentic and to honor herself
above all else.
As a result now we have a very close friendship. There is a deep care and respect between us.
Contrary to popular belief freedom and kindness do not create arrogance
My daughter is a very kind and generous person.
She thinks of others before herself all the time.
I mention this because there can be a tendency to think
that if we teach kids to honor themselves they will
become selfish and entitled.
The fact is selfishness, arrogance and entitlement
come from insecurity, not true confidence.
Knowing that she is truly and unconditionally worthy
of love and acceptance means she doesn’t have to
prove it to anyone including herself.
Generous, Confident and Strong
A teacher once told me when she was in middle school
that she was the most cooperative person.
That if somebody would bud in front her in line
or take a turn that was hers
she wouldn’t even care.
She would just shrug it off.
He also said he has seen moments when
somebody pushed her too far
and she just put her foot down.
In that moment she was very strong and
stood up for herself in a clear and confident manner.
He said basically she is kind and loving,
but don’t try and push her around!
This seems like a pretty good combination to me.
A Foundation of Confidence
When you are interacting with your kids on a day to day basis
try and think about the long term effects
of how you are treating them.
Think deeply if the decisions you are making
are going to give them the
quiet, strong confidence
that will carry them throughout their lives.
Even though this will be difficult at times
you will know that you are instilling in them
the Freedom to be Free