I am not talking about the freedom to buy nice things, choose between different beautiful places to go on holiday to, or having all the resources to live a healthy life full of learning and the possibility to create whatever you want. It is the freedom to be - who you really are. To be the kind of person you are, once you remove all unnecessary layers. The layers that mask your true nature and prevent you from reaching peace, quiet the mind and feeling at ease with your surroundings.
With the different roles we hold in life - being a man, a woman, husband, wife, senior vice president, or whatever else - we create self-images. We think we have to be a certain way to fit in, to be accepted, or to live safely without suffering any shortage of material convenience. What, on one hand, can be very helpful to get a business career kicked off and gain a reputable and successful life, might, on the other hand, be purely based on ideas that did not come from you. From a materialistic point of view, you are free to buy and move, but emotionally you are cluttered with stuff and expectations of who you have to be. Maybe you are a person who is supposed to have a dog, but it clashes with one of your roles. Or, you want to have more time off work to practice sports in order to look pretty? Well, there I would ask, why do you even want to look pretty? Where does this come from? It might possibly also be emotional clutter.
Freedom of Time
What do you spend most of your time with? How free are you to choose? Do you spend time with what truly matters - to you? If you do not know what matters to you you spend your time randomly or based on the ideas of others, right? You give your time away for emotionally unaudited projects. Usually, a lot of misdirected time goes towards actions feeding the ego: I have to be visible, I am right, I am unguilty, I have to explain, etc. The luxury in a world that recognizes that material things do not lead to true happiness and finding the true oneself is time and space to just Be. The best way to spend your time is being your true self. There is nothing selfish about this. The more in tune you are the better the vibes you give to the outside world. Peace inside us results in peace around us.
True Self and Junk Store Feeling
When I was first confronted with the question of what my true nature and my true self is, I was totally overwhelmed and confused. When I inquired what was left after removing all my to-dos, it felt like I was in a store where everything was sold out. All you end up with is junk lying around. That was depressing and clearly couldn't be what really makes me tick. According to the yoga scriptures, our true nature is unique, wonderful, and always there - for everyone without exception. Our view of it is just not clear and overlaid with the wrong things. That explains the junk-store feeling.
But how do I get to the treasure beneath the layers? Sometimes we hear that we should go back to a time when we did not have many mental constructs and identifications in our heads - when you were a kid. What was important and gave you joy when you were a kid and when you were (fairly) free to choose? This can definitely be very helpful, however in yoga we have a more structured and hands-on guide to move through a powerful transformation which relaxes the body, quiets the mind and brings you freedom with your emotions. “The Eight Limbs of Yoga” from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra help to get to a state of purification. The practices are subsequently and aim to control the body and mind in order to practice meditation as the only practice through which you can reach true happiness. Especially, the first two limbs appear like the ten commandments in christianity. There is however a big difference why we should stick to it. In yoga and buddhism the goal is not like in christianity to prevent and stay away from sins which bring you to hell, but to prepare for meditation.
Eight Limbs of Yoga
Control of behaviour:
1. Yama (attitudes toward our environment): no harm to any living being, no lying, no stealing, no inappropriate sex, no possessiveness.
2. Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves): purity of body and mind, contentment, spiritual
disciplines, spiritual study, prayer and worship
Controle of body:
3. Asana (physical postures)
4. Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath)
5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
Controle of mind:
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (complete integration)
In your opinion, what does a happy person look like? Challenge this opinion: is your belief true for everyone?
To find out what is currently obviously important in your life, check what you spent most of your money for. This is how you can influence the world around you. If you spend for example money on unethical industries you keep them stay alive and grow. This exercise is a tip from Jay Shetty’s book Think Like a Monk.
Question yourself for a week everyday: Who am I, when I do not need to be anybody?