We have a tendency, I think, to force things. To fake them until we make them. To push. To use effort. To use action, action, action and wash it all down with a dose of action.
The Freedom Equation is not something that can be forced. It is not something that is taken on by an act of your will. It is not blazoned confidence and a hail Mary sealed with a wish and a prayer. No, this process is something much deeper and more subtle than that.
The pathway to freedom happens through embodied tenderness. From a strength that comes from living in your own softness. It is a surrender down and in, of feeling into your own inherent stability rather than rising up, out and away, grasping for something outside of you.
Without softness and tenderness, the whole Freedom Equation falls apart. It is the tenderness that allows you to move forward in a way that actually creates lasting change.
Have you ever gone to a yoga class where the teacher took the time to have you stop in mountain pose? Mountain pose is basically standing with awareness, of feeling your feet on the floor, noticing your posture, feeling your breath. We rarely take time to notice just how we’re standing these days. Our culture values movement, action, doing and productivity. Maybe you wanted to rush out of mountain pose – up and out, moving quicker and faster and on to something more entertaining. Such may also be the process with your emotions, with your deepest feelings, and in trying to muster the faith to move on to courage.
Maybe you have your list of honesty, of all those powerful things that show you how your life could change into one that feels free. Perhaps you worked with FAITH last week through bhavana. And then you started formulating a plan, some productive action steps you could take (once the courage was mustered, certainly). You created a story in your head of all the things you need to do, because doing things is what changes things, damnit!
And then you looked at that scary list of conversations you’d need to have and people you’d disappoint and changes you’d have to make and shrunk back. And maybe got kinda angry. Or thought you’d have to become a douche bag in order to change. Or that you’d have to some how put out a public service announcement saying, “Listen up! Things are different over here! It’s about to get really uncomfortable for all of you used to me being a certain way. Let’s get awkward!”
The goal of The Freedom Equation isn’t to create a list of goals and then a corresponding list of action steps. Not yet, anyway. That is not the deep, transformational change that makes you wake up feeling changed. Goals and action steps aren’t bad – it’s great for a lot of things, like your grocery list, weekly to-do’s, and the steps needed to do the laundry and not dye all your whites pink. It’s great for dense things that happen in the dense, physical world. It’s a tool with hard, concrete energy.
Your emotions, needs and desires aren’t hard or concrete. They are impulses. They are energies. They come from deep within.
They are subtle. They are the softest and most truthful parts of yourself. They are the subtle shifts below the sea that create the tsunami that is witnessed by the outside world. They are the stirrings of the flower before it bursts forth from its bud for the world to see.
But you are not an ocean or a flower. You have all kinds of defense mechanisms to keep yourself from creating real changes – like intellectually defending against your feelings, punishing yourself for them, toughening up, distracting, drinking, smoking and becoming a sarcastic asshole (my forte). These things can happen when you devalue your softness and immediately harden.
We all harden from time to time. Hardening is what protects the ego. We’re taught to harden and to be”strong,” so it feels natural.
Allowing your internal desires (your honesty) to make waves first requires that you stay with them. That you meet them, and turn toward them. It requires that you use your sensitivity for yourself.
Your sensitivity, wielded with tenderness, is the way you foster the stirrings of change inside.
As you truly and utterly change what it means to be you on the inside, staying with what is and letting it be okay, you change the way you interact with the external world. Not because you are forcing the external changes but because you, yourSelf, have changed.
As you move through The Freedom Equation, give yourself permission to go through each step, one-by-one, to be the step, rather than do the step. As you simply be with what is there, you give it space to grow, move, change, release or make waves. You give it space to do the work required to make the waves that lead to freedom.