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Freedom; What Does it Mean to You?
By Art Ramsay, PhD

 Freedom is an idea that most people embrace. Who would not want to be free? But free of/from what? Everyone has their own version of what it means to be free, because it is not a 'one size fits all' process. I view freedom as a mindset more than a physical objective.

 If we apply this idea to our bodies, we want to be free of pain, sickness, broken bones, disfigurement, or disease. In our finances, we want to be free of debt, bills, and other such obligations. Relationships giving us the freedom to be who we are, work better than ones where we feel intimidated by our mate to follow his/her path.

 Then there are the more macro freedoms, such as free speech, media, taxation, and other government-oriented controls. The United States supposedly is a 'free' country. What does that mean? I cannot understand what it is to be free unless I know what it means to me. Am I comparing how I live here in the U.S. to some other country, or to some other person or group?

 It seems that the definition of freedom resides in the person being asked. It also depends on how that person describes the idea in terms of the areas mentioned above. You can see that attempting to define freedom from a personal view is a complex task. We must then be more specific with the question, and narrow in on particular areas.

 My own look at freedom

 Since I am asking the question, what does it mean to you, I will first describe what it means to me. As mentioned above, I do not look so much to be free of physical things, unless the following is considered physical. While I would rather return to living in the southwest area of the U.S., living here in Asheville will do for the moment. Weather is one physical thing of which I have both gratitude and difficulty.

 I am free of extremes, yet not living in ‘comfortable’ circumstances all of the time regarding temperature, moisture, and wind. Maybe these are not even ‘freedom from’, but preferences. I would like to be free of taxation, and being controlled by oil, food, pharmaceutical, medical, and the banking industries. The most confining, and very personal, aspect of my life is debt, and the inability to do what I want because of it.

 The above may be both physical and psychological (mindset), but they are my freedom desires at this time in my life. They will change as time moves on as they do for all of us, but it gives you an idea of what I am writing here. The true mindset aspect I spoke of is the heart of where all of the above comes from. If I change my mind about how I view any of it, then the way I allow it to affect me will change as well.

 What needs to change?

 How you view whatever you consider a desire for 'freedom of' originates in your mind. While my desire to be in a warm place to live ties directly to my body’s inability to cope with cold and dampness, it still could be changed by changing my mind. There are people who can change their body temperature at will, for example. All of the above examples I gave for my own desired ‘freedoms’ began in my mind, and still reside there.

 Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, says “Change your thinking, change your life”. This is the crux of our desire for freedom(s). Even some of the people locked away in prison camps, such as during the Holocaust, are able to maintain a clarity about who they are. How you view something is a state-of-mind. You are only in prison if you think you are. Granted, physical torture and horrid living conditions are physical, but even these can be viewed peacefully if we can move beyond thinking that we are only bodies.

  If freedom is only a mindset, then how do we go about changing our minds? While the answer would take many pages, there are basic actions that we can take to do that. Moving from a stressful mindset to a peaceful one is a major step toward freedom, and one that eliminates a whole host of other challenges. My eBook on inner peace, and soon to be released home study course would help there. But I am not writing this to sell something, and you can learn ways to peace through meditation and contemplation as a start.

 Even in a state of peace, there are those gnawing thoughts about being free; they just are not as rampant. Getting a grip on the idea that the physical world, including our bodies, is not who we really are, but merely a vehicle for our spiritual journey, is very helpful, but challenging. The less stress we pile upon ourselves, the more likely we are to feel free. Well, stress free of course, but this leads to freedom in more areas just because we are no longer stressed, inventing prison-like images for ourselves.

 Ways to make changes

 Make a list of freedoms you would like to have that you do not feel you have now. Put it away, and then a few days later make a list of freedoms you enjoy. Put that away. Do this again over a period of a week or two, or even longer. Take out the lists and compare first, the lists made about freedoms you do not have, then the ones you enjoy. How did they change over the time period?

 Now compare the two lists with each other. How did they change? Work with bringing more peace into your life and exploring your freedoms. Repeat the list-making scenario again. Continue to do these activities for a few months and see how it changes, and how you feel about it.

 We can only be free when we feel free. Lack of feeling free comes from long-held beliefs in whatever areas we have difficulty. Remember, it is all in your mind. Whatever is going on in your life will always reflect what is going in your mind, which then surfaces a belief. Work on it and you will feel freer as time goes by.

 

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