Freedom from Suffering

Freedom isn’t free. That’s what we’ve heard all our lives and it’s true – freedom is the result of hard work and sacrifice. What can we do as “normal” people to ensure that we are free in mind, body and spirit?

Humans can be physically restrained with jails, handcuffs and fences. Our civic and personal freedoms are dictated through laws and societal rules. But each individual is responsible for freeing themselves from their own mind and thought patterns.

However, my own freedom should not be at the expense of other beings. I should not create suffering to alleviate my own. It comes back to treating others as I wish to be treated… allowing others the same rights and privileges that I desire for myself. 

Freedom from suffering is a personal effort that takes commitment and determination. Just like physical yoga practice, the practice of yoga of the mind needs that same zeal and effort. Meditation is a good start but bringing that mindfulness into our everyday lives is key.

Vigilance in this effort is vital – and returning to this vigilance when we forget to be mindful and aware is key. This constant practice of noticing and changing our thoughts, words, and deeds helps free us from learned and habitual patterns of behavior that hinder us.

Practicing the bramaviharas – joy, compassion, loving-kindness and equanimity – is a way to incorporate a constant way of being in my everyday life. Bringing the focus away from my ego and to the condition of other beings helps me  to acknowledge them, really see them. In seeing them, I see myself and my own suffering.

Freeing ourselves from suffering frees others from suffering. By reducing or eliminating our own suffering, we reduce the suffering of those around us because we are not inflicting our old ways of being, our personal pain, upon them.

We change the outcomes of our personal interactions with people through mindful practice and awareness of our thoughts, words, and deeds. 

We change how people perceive us. 

We change how we perceive the world.

Freedom from personal suffering isn’t free or easy – but it is possible through yoga of the mind.