Everyone dreams of more freedom in their life. Freedom from pain and suffering, or from financial burden. The freedom to express ourselves. Freedom from hardship or any situation that seems unjust or unfair.
Why is it that when most people dream of bringing more freedom into their lives, it seems to be so hard to achieve? How do you tell if you are on the path to freedom?
Consider the four steps below which may help you to determine if you are even on track to create more freedom in your life?
- Step one is a searching attitude of the mind: When we determine that we don’t feel good about something we ask, ” What is it that is wrong? Where is the mistake? What or who is the cause of my suffering and where are they located?”
- The second step is the decision that things around us are the source of all our troubles: ” It’s my work, or my boss, my partner, my kids, my lack of money, my mortgage, my lack of opportunity, my lack of freedom. All these things are troubling me and annoying me.” “How can I change these things or get rid of them?”
- Step three is the realisation that there is something more involved with all these difficulties, and there is only one common thread that links them all – ME! No matter where I seem to go these difficulties always seem to follow me. And even if things start out as being good, something always changes to make them bad. Such as: “My dream job has turned into a nightmare, and my perfect partner is starting to get on my nerves”. “And my new house is too big to clean and isn’t as good as another smaller house that I have just seen”
- The fourth step arrives for us when we are able to decide that these sensations of feeling good and bad are the result of our way of thinking and that it is our mind that needs to be rectified. If we can change the attitude of the thoughts that we are having towards all these things that are external to us then the path to freedom from suffering becomes apparent.
Recognising that the mind itself is the source of trouble, places us in a position of readiness to affect real change in our lives. The great difficulty that remains is that the power of our subconscious mind far outweighs our current conscious control. This is due in part because every previous thought and perception that we have ever had has been recorded in our subconscious mind and it is this stored information that filters our perception of reality as we view it.
All of our previous experiences have contributed to our current set of beliefs. These beliefs give rise to our current thought patterns. However, the majority of these beliefs were not developed from our own conscious thoughts but rather were merely observed and memorised as we were growing up. Therefore our parents, our teachers and our peers all contributed to our belief set early on and the vast majority of our opinions and perceptions are actually someone else’s opinions that have been stored in our subconscious.
If this is the case, then how are we to be truly free to be ourselves, and to live as individuals having our own unique experiences in life? How much of our current experience is simply a reaction of our subconscious conditioning, and is this old information stored in the subconscious preventing us from the possibility of having truly genuine experiences moment to moment?
How are we ever to overcome a lifetime of unconscious thought patterns? How can we develop a level of conscious awareness that will allow us to override these subconscious tendencies? How do we become super-conscious?!
Luckily the roadmap has been laid out for us by others that have achieved this super-consciousness, and it known as the eight limbs of Yoga.
- Yamas: are moral principles that will create health and balance for not only the individual, but also others and the environment. These principles include compassion, truthfulness, non-stealing, responsible behaviour, and non-hoarding
- Niyamas: are personal disciplines that can help us maintain a state of balance and ease in our life. These disciplines include purity, contentment, austerity, self-reflection, and dedication to a higher principle, all of which represent an attitude that we can adopt for ourselves to create a balanced and healthy life
- Asana: the psychological benefits of practising physical yoga postures with awareness include calming of the mind, a reduction of stress, and a strengthening of the will leading to greater ability to balance our physical and mental experiences in life.
- Pranayama: is the practice of observing, controlling and directing the breath, all of which are very important as our state of mind is linked to the quality of our breath.
- Pratyahara: is the practice of restraining the minds tendency to be controlled by the senses. When we are able to effectively concentrate the mind, the senses can become disengaged from external stimulus overload, freeing up more energy within the mind for inward focus.
- Dharana: is focusing of the mind to hold its attention in one place. This provides a much greater level of efficiency in our mental and physical performance. Focused attention leads to concentration
- Dhyana: or concentrated awareness, is the minds ability to maintain an even flow of single pointed attention and focus.
- Samadhi: is meditative union, or universal awareness moment to moment.
Practicing the eight limbs of yoga every day will help you to overcome your subconscious programming step-by-step, and every step in Yoga is a step forward in the evolution of your own consciousness.