July 2016- Subject of the Month- Sat-chit-ananda, Freedom of Choice(lessness)

We are what we choose!
Janis Joplin sang “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”. From a yogic perspective, she is on to something! In our life-long search to feel happy and free, we strive to add on many things, but the real freedom comes in when we begin to let go.

When we are very young, most of our choices are controlled by others. This is for safety, for convenience, and to adhere to the norms of the family, culture and society in which we are raised. Without realizing it, we are deeply assimilating many belief systems on how we should act, look and think. And we begin to fear that we have a whole lot to lose (at least in terms of approval) if we don’t make choices that align with these early lessons, some being beautiful and useful, and some not so much as we continue to grow as individuals.

As we reach our teenage years we begin in a natural way to want to separate from this control, longing for liberation, to be free to choose for ourselves. In the process to establish our own identity, we make some good choices and some bad choices and we begin to understand that with freedom to choose comes responsibility for our choices. This supports growth when we let these lessons inform us and do our best to be accountable for what we have set in motion with our thoughts, actions and words. But many times we find it difficult to fully make or own our choices even as adults, especially when what we truly want clashes or gets buried by these internalized belief systems of what it means to be successful, attractive, intelligent, talented, worthy. As we mature as beings of consciousness, our deeply ingrained desire for approval constantly collides with our longing to experience a self not so defined by expectation and societal/cultural norms.

Far from feeling liberating, freedom to choose now can carry a lot of weight if we keep selecting more and more of the same life experiences that support  how we “should be” over who we “really are”, or not shifting our course when some choices no longer serve. This fear-based process can have us feeling trapped in aspects of the life fabric we have woven for ourselves, and not feeling very happy much of the time. So where do we find that freedom for which we long? Use the getting tired of this constant struggle as a juggernaut to choose a new way of doing things.

Ditching all our responsibilities (though perhaps appealing!) will not give us the long term ease and happiness for which we yearn. As yoga practitioners however, exploring where we  fully show up in life by examining and owning our choices can begin to give some ease in this dynamic as we learn more and more about ourselves and our fears. Defending “my truth” becomes more informed in the space of a more eternal, universal truth. We learn how we might operate more fully present in our lives if we use each choice as an opportunity to learn what scares us, what excites us and what bores us and by not dismissing any of these out of hand. We can simply begin to examine each choice as an opportunity to move closer to what we truly long for, and make that a priority again and again in our words, actions, and yes, even which of our our thoughts we listen to.

It is often not easy as we challenge the constant chatter of these ingrained belief systems, but it is necessary for any true individual growth.  It takes commitment, honesty and maturity, but it is doable as a life game-changer as we identify the fears that limit us, and courageously choose something else that allows us to move toward a fresh and responsive way of living, and ultimately less conflict and more happiness.
Freedom of choice eventually dissolves into the freedom of choicelessness. This liberated state comes as we practice making conscious choices (and seeing where we don’t)  so consistently, that it becomes natural in us. Like a top athlete or musician, seemingly without having to decide, we simply and effortlessly know and do what best serves in the moment (from a yogic perspective, what is most highly aligned with consciousness and serves the greatest good). We still may not get the result we want every time, but we know we did our best in that given situation and are content in that.
Seems impossible? We have all had the experience when in that one certain moment we have instantaneously known just what to say or do and it was exactly what was needed! We all have the capacity in us to operate like this and  share a basic human longing to join these moments in life to a sustained state of happiness and freedom, of sat-chit -ananda. This is loosely translated to be a kind of “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” a pointer to our natural state of being whole, eternal and one with consciousness, free from the fear and struggle from which we used to make our choices. In sat-chit-ananda, we have nothing left to lose …the fear of knowing and expressing ourselves as we are is gone, and our natural radiant state is shining brilliantly through, inclusive, undefended, open-hearted, clear and loving.  We do not merely feel, but truly are, free.
Om Ananda Om Ananda Om Ananda Sat Chit Ananda

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