Notice the presence of absence

Notice the presence of absence.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Tim Chow

In the practice of meditation, we train ourselves to notice our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The intention is that these efforts will carry forward, so we can pursue our daily activities with greater awareness and ease.

Being more present to our inner and outer worlds offers us a deeper and fuller experience of living.

For most of us, our constant inner dialogues and emotional ups and downs keep us  occupied, both on and off the cushion.

What if we could easily and regularly have these thoughts and sensations dissolve and dissipate as if they were water evaporating from the sidewalk on a warm sunny day?

What levels of freedom, peace, and tranquility might be left without all the chatter?

What else could be present in the absence?

EXERCISE:

Create a space in your home where you remove as many distractions as possible. Do your best to eliminate all sensory inputs and sit for at least ten minutes with only your breath and heartbeat for company.

Friday Review: Freedom

FRIDAY REVIEW: FREEDOM

How do you define freedom in the various aspects of your life? Here are a few related posts you may have missed.

By letting things unfold and relinquishing control we discover freedom.

 

 

 

“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.”

 

 

 

“If you want to be free, learn to live simply.”

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.”

—Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, author, and Holocaust survivor

Image from Unsplash by Miltiadis Fragkidis

As a relatively new grandparent, I’ve become interested in parenting approaches in today’s rapidly changing world. When I think of the phrase “Teach your children well,” I recall my own upbringing and our efforts with our two adult children, now in their mid-thirties.

Even if you are not a parent or grandparent, consider your own upbringing. How much liberty and how much responsibility were taught and modeled by your elders?

As we fast forward to today, what lessons do our children — and for that matter all of us — need to live healthy,  happy, and responsible lives within our various communities?

EXERCISE:

Where do you stand on the pursuit of freedom and liberty in the world? What is your perspective on the benefits of greater responsibility? What steps are needed coast-to-coast and throughout the world?

By letting things unfold and relinquishing control we discover freedom

By letting things unfold and relinquishing control we discover freedom.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Susan Wilkinson

Trusting things to unfold naturally without always needing to control others and events is a skill worth practicing.

Notice what happens when you let others in your personal and professional worlds do things in their own way and in their own time.

Offering those around you this freedom and autonomy will likely please them very much and endear you to them.

EXERCISE:

Where in your life can you more fully trust things to unfold naturally?

“Although he may not always recognize his bondage, modern man lives under a tyranny of numbers.”

“Although he may not always recognize his bondage, modern man lives under a tyranny of numbers.”

—Nicholas Eberstadt, American political economist

Image from Unsplash by Stephen Dawson

What time is it? What did you weigh when you stood on the bathroom scale this morning?
How fast or slow is traffic moving on your commute to work? How much money do you earn and how much have you saved?

What are some other ways you measure your life and whether you are successful?

To what degree do you feel the bondage and tyranny of our world of metrics, milestones, and the quantification of everything?

Where in your life do you experience the freedom and simple pleasures of the subjective, qualitative, and more soulful aspects of life?

EXERCISE:

Consider discussing these questions with friends and family. What are the most appropriate and useful ways for you to measure your life?

The one thing I love most

“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.”

—Ryan Gosling, Canadian Actor and Musician

Image of a bowl of Halloween candy

mage from Flickr by Sean Freese

 

Looking back to my childhood, Halloween was perhaps my favorite holiday. The process of selecting our costumes to be hand-made by mom, and the pillow cases we used to collect our booty, still brings a fond smile.

In those years, we went out early and stayed out pretty late, and it was common to head home to drop off a load of the sweet stuff and head back out for more. That night, and for a few short weeks after, we had the freedom to eat our fill and not hear “No!” too often.

This freedom to choose our actions was something I cherished and it has been a core value of mine ever since.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you experience even more of the sweetness of life by embracing and exercising the personal freedoms we sometimes take for granted?

Doing what you like is freedom

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

—Frank Tyger, late American Editorial Cartoonist and Humorist

Image of an elderly couple sitting on a bench

Image from Unsplash by Matthew Bennett

I am often asked by my contemporaries when I plan to retire. I’ve been coaching for 26 years, and find myself only a handful of years away from collecting Social Security and qualifying for Medicare. I love what I do. The idea of a traditional retirement has very little appeal.

I have, however, observed many people my age pining for the freedom to do their own thing and escape the daily grind of “working for the man,” or simply not enjoying their vocations.

Upon retirement, some individuals find their freedom isn’t always associated with the happiness they expected.

EXERCISE:

As you pursue your personal and professional objectives and purpose, how can you find freedom and happiness by doing more of what you like, and liking more of what you do?

The Safest Way to Double Your Money

“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.”

—Kin Hubbard, 20th Century American Journalist

Image of folded hundred dollar bills

Image from Fight4Survival

For many people, money represents freedom, independence, security, and peace of mind. The topic of money can cause all kinds of trouble, and often has great impact on our relationships.

The simple advice to “make more and spend less” doesn’t always cut it, and we often find ourselves continually stressing over our finances.

As we age, many of us begin to appreciate more fully the saying, “The best things in life are not things.” We begin to look closely at how we spend our time, not just our money.

EXERCISE:

Where might taking “The Best Things in Life are Free” approach help you gain greater pleasure and allow you to pocket a bit more of the freedom, independence, security, and peace of mind you desire?

economize or agonize

“He who will not economize will have to agonize.”

—Confucius, ancient Chinese Philosopher

Image of rocks balanced on a plane

Image from LinkedIn

Over many years of coaching, I’ve noticed several interesting trends.

In general, my clients in their twenties, thirties, and forties are most often on a highly intentional growth trajectory. They want to build wealth, pursue success, and increase their standard of living. This almost always involves accumulating possessions, and often increases the demands and complexity of their lives.

As they reach their fifties, sixties, and seventies, they seem to be more focused on scaling back, simplification, and greater balance. It is often because their many years of living in the fast lane, carrying too much stuff and stress, has become more of a burden than they care to shoulder going forward.

EXERCISE:

Where would a “less is more” strategy, regardless of your stage of life, provide you the added freedom and peace of mind you desire?

If You Want to Be Free

“If you want to be free, learn to live simply.”

—John Heider, The Tao of Leadership

Image of a bird on a wire, with today's quote

In the last few months, I have posted several times regarding minimalism and essentialism, which point to the value and freedom associated with a simple life.

What areas of your world would benefit most by slowing down, paring back, downsizing, or even eliminating completely? Explore this list as possible places to start:

Relationships Career Media Consumption Diet
Wardrobe Living/Working Environments Schedule Health & Spiritual Practice

EXERCISE:

What one action can and will you take (or stop taking) to gain a bit more freedom in your life?

Consider making this exercise a daily practice and let me know what you discover.