Freedom is a funny thing: we don’t notice it except in comparison to its absence.
We have to want it, bad… like we want air. And to want it badly enough, we have to get so stressed out that it finally arrives on our bucket list. We tried to change others, we tried to change the world… now we’re finally ready to change ourselves.
Why does it take so long? Because it’s the more difficult path. To free ourselves, we have to be ready to rebel against more than the entire world. We have to rebel against a far greater enemy: our minds. The greatest freedom, believe it or not, is internal: we must break free from the chain of incessant thoughts that plague us 24/7.
At first we take baby steps. We rebel a little. We try yoga. We listen to our breath. We try a guided meditation. Even a little pause in the hammering is felt as an immense relief… like a computer that’s been on for years before finally finding the off switch. And the more we see how great it feels… the more we want to meditate.
In the space between the breaths, which slow down…
(What a relief!)
The first hurdle is that, as we begin to meditate, our thoughts and problems shout out in unison, “we’re important, how can you leave us?” So the beginner is encouraged to imagine putting all his thoughts and problems in a box for five minutes, up on an imaginary shelf. “They will still be there after five minutes,” we are told. So we ask our minds… “Is that OK? only five minutes?” (That’s how strong the chain is, like a fence around us… if we escape it even for a minute, it starts to lose power over us.)
Then we begin to ask for more. Fifteen minutes. Half-an-hour. Finally two or three hours. We enjoy more and more the feeling — not just the thought, or some future promise — of freedom. We begin to break the chain. And after each session, we find ourselves ever more reluctant to go and pull that noisy box down again.
Then one day… we realize that we don’t need that box in our lives anymore. We feel so much better without it. Things seem to be taking care of themselves, too… without all that worry. It took so much effort, but now we finally seem to be finding that peace we’ve been longing for.
Yes friends, once we remember how much our freedom costs – and what it’s worth! – we’ll never be tempted by the torture of incessant thoughts again!