During my Full Moon meditation (February 23), Spirit asked me: “What does it mean to be free”? “What do you mean by freedom?” For me, to be Free is to be without Fear.
to understand that
and that not being able to do the first leads to
Reaction instead of Action is what happens when we respond to fear. Reacting often comes from a place of frustration, ego, anxiety/anger – an immediate response when we have not developed the ability to stop mid-word, sentence, movement and breathe, think, ask for guidance in the moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that if we find ourselves about to argue with someone that we should breathe, stop, and simply say: I am unable to discuss this calmly at the moment, may we take a moment (or two, or an hour) and return to this issue when we are both able to discuss it.
This gives us the time to allow our breath to settle us and for us to enter a silence that may reveal ourselves (or the other person) in an unexpected way. Being able to act out of love and compassion towards ourselves, the other person, and the situation in which you find yourselves can lead to healing you could not have planned.
Each of us will understand "freedom" and being "free" in different ways depending on our backgrounds and where we are this moment in time. I came to understand these words in a profound way in 1994 when watching a news story on Rwanda by Jim Wooten. It was about young girl whose mother had to bury her on the "airport road" - a mass grave - as she was fleeing for her life. Afterwards, I could not stop hearing the little girl's voice.
It took me many months to stop running away (literally) from her voice and her story. However, what began as a terrifying experience for me - not nearly what it had been for her or her mother, ended in a poem in her voice so she, a young ancestor, would not be forgotten. Nor would her message: death and dying bring their own freedom and understanding of what it means to be free. She wanted to share this message with her mother and release her from the deep feeling of failure of responsibility that she must have felt.
She says in the poem's last stanza:
"No memory of me exists in this grave
of generations heaped upon another
without ceremony, without ritual.
But the sun doesn't burn my forehead
anymore and I am not hungry
although I long for the taste of her milk
I want to touch her and tell her,
Mama, this is what they mean by freedom."
Because releasing our expectations and fears often feel like dying, this message remains for me a lesson in letting go, becoming unattached to the outcome, and knowing to whom and to what I am responsible in the process of doing so.