The nature of freedom – and how it’s only a step away!

The last few months have been absolutely frantic for Dan and I as we have gone back to being students of a new healing modality called D codes. This has been a wonderful learning curve and added a new dimension to our healing work. It hasn’t been easy though. The energy demands although they weren’t huge, were enough to send me into complete overwhelm after week 1!

This meant that I couldn’t interact or engage as much as I would have liked and as time crept on, the pressure only increased what with the course being shortened by a month halfway through, and assessments coming upon us faster than we had anticipated.

Now, as every good D coder knows, you need to be flexible enough to roll with change. And yes, we rolled accordingly – but outside of  D-codes other demands and responsibilities were piling up even higher and heavier than before.

By mid-January, I emerged from overwhelm enough to throw myself into the last four weeks of the course. I learnt a s##t ton and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but it was a massive relief when it ended. Woo hoo and FREEDOM!

Except – NOPE! – outside pressures were still nearly flattening us and then… war started up. Wow! By this time, I was squashed flat under the weight of circumstances and the horrific events happening in the outside world just made it worse.  As for feeling free… it was a very distant memory.

However, I had been listening to various You Tube talks by Thich Nhat Hanh during this time and was very aware of my lack of meditation practice and the need to get grounded and back to the present moment.

He advocates something called walking meditation; walking slowly and deliberately, in silence, feeling the ground under your feet. On one of our local walks there was a time when Dan was talking but I (for once!) was not. Yes folks, it can happen! Anyway – I decided to concentrate on taking one step at a time and appreciating the world around me, instead of letting my mind (or mouth!) wander.

I was 4 steps in when I got distracted. Yes I am a terrible student of mindfulness! 😉 BUT that’s all it took for me to notice a difference. Thich Nhat Hanh was right. Freedom is possible if you dwell in the present moment, rather than the past or the future. Somehow in those few moments of mindfully taking each step I experienced the feeling of pure and absolute freedom. It was a revelation!

It was the understanding that right in that present moment – “the only moment” as ‘Thay’ would tell us – that I realised that nothing else existed. Not my worries about the future, or the heavy weight I was carrying – not my criticisms of self, or the stress of the world situation. Right in that moment I was completely free. And every time I wanted to feel that, I just had to be present for the next moment, and the one after that and the – wait – was that a squirrel?!

But anyway, the great thing about the present moment is that you can keep coming back to it over and over again and something like walking, which is repetitive, can help to remind you to return back to it with each step.

For all the Buddhists and mindfulness students out there, this may not be news! But for me it was an ephiphany. Freedom was right there within my grasp all the time. However heavy the burdens you carry, however big your problems, you can still escape it all for a moment, in each moment, in every moment.

When we exist in the present moment, we are completely free. It is what some might call the zero point field. The space where everything exists as potential and everything is possible. That is the true nature of reality.

It’s hard to remember when things are tough, so get into the habit of including some mindful steps when you’re out and about; it’s an easy way to connect with self and with the limitless field of potential that you really are.

The art of self-forgiveness

Image: Pexels.com

Self-forgiveness is an important subject that sometimes gets overlooked, especially in a world where we often have much to forgive others for!

It was Thich Nhat Hanh’s 94th birthday (or more properly – Continuation Day) on 12th October this year. He was asking people to carry on his teachings of mindfulness and forgiveness. I thought I would try to give him a present that he would like by forgiving someone.

As part of Vishen Lakhiani’s 6-phase meditation (see You Tube, Mind Valley) you have to forgive someone each time, so naturally I started with a long list! I gradually worked through them til I was really struggling and started to leave out that part. However, when it came to Thay’s ‘birthday’ I considered forgiveness again and realised I should include myself on that list!

It came to my attention again when my partner, Dan (who has the patience of a saint, and is generally the soul of compassion!) was out driving and getting very angry when someone was driving right up his boot. Dan being angry is a rare event, so I thought we should look into it to see what he was really mad about.

He said he was angry that people (who were driving up his boot) didn’t give others any space or consideration, and that they had no patience for others.

What you are angry at externally is usually something to do with yourself, so we considered his answer in that light and came up with: perhaps he was really angry that he didn’t give himself enough consideration and that he was very impatient with himself. This turned out to be spot on.

The reason I have told this story is to illustrate that very often when we think we are mad at others, we are actually mad at ourselves, and it is something that can get overlooked. In the main, people do tend to be too hard on themselves and need to cut themselves some slack.

We inhabit physical bodies and part of being human is that we are not perfect. We are not here to attain perfection either! We are here to try and improve ourselves, and to learn and grow within the limitations of a physical form.

So, starting from that premise, you’re human – you will make mistakes! However highly advanced you are spiritually, however many lives you’ve had and whatever ‘heights’ you have previously achieved, that is still the case. So let up on yourself! As long as you are not deliberately causing harm to others you can breathe easy, look at whatever the mistake was, decide not to repeat it and forgive yourself for your human ‘frailty’.

We are here to learn and grow. If there is no growth there is no life, or no point to life. Growth doesn’t have to be huge. Experiencing a sunrise can be growth! We are all growing and changing through our experiences and our interactions with each other. We learn what does, and doesn’t, piss each other off! And we learn how it feels when we behave in a certain way, and whether or not that is fulfilling or helpful for us.

Fully embracing the physical form and all the experiences that are available to us on this beautiful planet is something we will each do in our own unique way. Some will stumble more than others on the path. There is no one perfect strategy for being human or living our lives.

You can only try to do your best, monitor your actions and feelings and try not to repeat your mistakes. Physical incarnation brings its challenges, and it’s supposed to.

Thich Nhat Hanh would have us show compassion and love and forgive one another. This is a very worthy aim, but it is easy to forget that in order to forgive others, it is helpful to first forgive ourselves.

So lighten up. You’re going to make mistakes, but don’t brood over them. Pick yourself up and move forward. Show yourself the same love and compassion as you would show a child who is still only learning how things work. There is so much to know about life. We are still only learning, whatever age we are. Mistakes are part of that, and we should try and embrace them, and ourselves, with compassion and understanding. After all – charity starts at home, right?