Most Americans grew up with the notion that our flag represents freedom and independence. But what do Freedom and Independence mean at the core?
As a child, I remember asking my mom
Do you prefer Freedom or Security?
She said Security.
Economics and social studies have taught us that humans seek security fighting for borders & building walls, establishing conventions which become marketed and passed down as traditions & culture, creating laws & governing bodies to keep everything under control. But are we in control?
We have been told that nature lives by Survival of the Fittest leaving animals with little security. But are their lives filled with constant fear, anxiety and stress? I set out to find out for myself studying biology then philosophy in undergrad searching for answers then onto grad school exploring the world of behavioral ecology.
After spending close to a decade observing animals in their natural habitat, I’ve come to conclusion that they live more peacefully than we do. I witness more animosity and violence among humans in one day than I have in all my time-budgeted hours of field research.
That’s what our parents and teachers would say when we were distracted as children. We start off life with Beginners Mind brimming with curiosity & awe but as adults, we seem to have regressed into a life of distraction — forever lost reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Our minds continue on trains of thought remembering to control our bodies like puppets only when awoken at the new destination.
We have become so disconnected with ourselves, medicated and floating lifeless in a sea of conformity that we get aroused whenever we hear about a new disease named which might explain our mental illness. But these names are merely labels or classifications invented by our minds to fit within the Matrix.
Racers learn to continually scan the vanishing point while maintaining perspective with all our senses.
The higher the speed, the further we must gaze to give our bodies time to react. Time allows us to relax and go with the flow along the ideal racing line. We become fully absorbed in the present moment, our brains on stand-by but not consciously in control. We are not thinking simply because there is no time and “muscle memory” takes over. ‘The greater the challenge, the higher the focus, the quieter the mind must be’ says the Yoda within each of us.
I think therefore I am
— René Descartes, philosopher, mathematician and scientist
When I stop thinking then I really am
—Dada Gunamuktananda, Yogi and meditation teacher
We see this concept in people with mental disability. Through exercise our minds become quieter and more integrated with our bodies so that we can express nature’s intelligence.
It’s easy to praise or blame others for their actions in the world. But unless we know their intention, the motivation behind those actions, we really know nothing at all. We live in a culture where praise and blame are encouraged. It’s really another way of talking about judgment.
— Andy Puddicombe
Judgment is measuring actions along a linear scale to feed binary decisions. Do I like this or not? We have architected our world into theMatrix with logical rules explaining the world down to a level are minds can grasp. All the information present in nature overwhelms our brains and we strain to fathom the dynamic network of relationships we have with each other and other species from mutualism to parasitism. We all want the former, not the latter.
This Meditation Exercise Builds Mental Muscle and Cures Procrastination
Imagine always having the strongest mind in the room.
Coach Tony describes meditation practice as a mental push-up. The breath provides an anchor and lifeline back to reality reconnecting the mind with the body. Shoshin (初心) is the official word for what Zen Buddhists call Beginner’s Mind and meditation is the practice that helps us tap into this energy allowing us to trust ourselves. Trust is what allows us to let go of thoughts - past analysis or future predictions generating the emotions which make us sick. By simply letting the mind do whatever it wants to do, we re-discover our authentic selves which still hold our childhood curiosity & awe. Becoming aware of habitual thought patterns is the first step to letting our minds breathe and giving our brains a rest.
Freedom and Independence
The next time you walk your dogs, try letting them lead. Be curious to see what happens.
Every day is an opportunity for inspiration. Watch how they exchange notes on interesting smells. Be amazed with how they record the exact location on the trail where you said Drop it! after discovering they brought out their toys from the house and how they always remember to pick them up on the return trip. Be touched when you discovered them patiently waiting for you after you get distracted by technology. Let them teach you flow & grace and why you should be grateful.
It is Your Choice
I would rather forego Security and choose Freedom. Embrace your inner child. Work your mind less and let it rest. Go outside and explore. Witness how the world is ever changing. Give people around you freedom to change. Adapt your outlook and let go of judgment.