Be Brave, Be Free: 2 Yogis’ Philosophy on Achieving Inner Freedom

By Carolyn Anne Budgell
Published: July 4, 2017
Key Takeaways

Learning to practice radical acceptance of our life and take responsibility for our choices leads to a sense of inner freedom and joy.

A wise man once praised the virtues of witnessing the workings of our minds, thoughts and emotions. Such a task requires bravery, but the result is inner freedom. Here I’ll share with you what two leading modern-day yogis — B.K.S. Iyengar and Tara Brach — have to say on this subject of ultimate spiritual independence.


B.K.S. Iyengar: Watch Your Mind

B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014), founder of Iyengar yoga, had a stern and encouraging voice that still booms inside my head whenever I think about persistent effort and dedication as the only path to changing our habits and reactions, our samskara. (Find out more if you’re wondering “Who Was B.K.S. Iyengar?“)

“You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general. All behavior both constructive and deconstructive is dependent on our thoughts. By understanding how our thinking works, we discover nothing less than the very secrets of human psychology. With this right perception and understanding of our minds, the door opens to our liberation, as we go through the veil of illusion into the bright day of clarity and wisdom. The study of mind and consciousness, therefore, lies at the heart of yoga.” -B.K.S. Iyengar


In theory, this sounds easy. Watch your mind and you will gain an understanding of all that you are and your life will improve. Personally, allowing myself to feel and acknowledge my thoughts and patterns feels draining. It seems self-centered. There is pain in listening to the drone of my thought patterns and it doesn’t feel great to admit how much time I’ve lost in obsessive thoughts or dwelling in anger. (Learn about Quieting the Commentary of Your Mind.)

Truthfully, identifying my emotions, reactions and triggers has got me feeling blue and defeated. So, why do I choose this grueling method of coping and why do I wholeheartedly encourage others to do it as well? Because, despite feeling defeated, it also gives me a sense of freedom. I no longer see my life as glass half empty.

Tara Brach: ‘Radical Acceptance’

In the past, I used to be in denial. Now I’m starting to see that my denial held me prisoner. In one blessed instance, I chose to look within and work on changing myself. No more blaming, no more resentments, no more drama. The name of my new game is now “Radical Acceptance,” as coined by Tara Brach, a Buddhist yogini who founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC. Iyengar, too, speaks about the process of creating change in a rational way and Brach supports the heart of this philosophy. (Learn why radical acceptance requires Ahimsa: A Self-Practice.)


Living in the present moment and in the immediacy of our emotions, without stories or justifications, requires radical acceptance. It is radical to accept our circumstances because the tendency our mind and ego is to long for the future, the past, or for something different entirely. It is radical to change our habits so drastically, but it is worth it. We begin to see how quickly our feelings shift. Our thoughts shift. The weather shifts. Relationships shift. The reality is that nothing is constant. In radical acceptance of this constant change, I realize I’m not in control of anything but my own reactions. Now that is a happy and empowering discovery! (Learn more about how fundamental accepting constant change is in The Message of the Gurus.)

I do not want to remain stuck in one place, in one state of mind and being; so, the way out is in honoring flux, evolution and growth. Now I simply hear it, I watch it, I feel it. And in an instant, it vanishes, leaving me feeling lighter and free.

“The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing our DNA. We are undoing a pattern…we’re naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms – withdrawal from always thinking that there’s a problem and that someone, somewhere needs to fix it.

The middle way is wide open, but it’s tough going, because it goes against the grain of an ancient neurotic pattern that we all share. When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is move to the right or the left. We don’t want to sit and feel what we feel. We don’t want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that. It encourages us to awaken the bravery that exists in everyone.

That’s the beginning of growing up. As long as we don’t want to be honest and kind with ourselves, then we are always going to be infants. When we begin just to try to accept ourselves, the ancient burden of self-importance lightens considerably. Finally, there’s room for genuine inquisitiveness, and we find we have an appetite for what’s out there.” -Tara Brach

During These Times of Stress and Uncertainty Your Doshas May Be Unbalanced.

To help you bring attention to your doshas and to identify what your predominant dosha is, we created the following quiz.

Try not to stress over every question, but simply answer based off your intuition. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.

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Carolyn Anne Budgell

Carolyn fell into yoga in 1999, while living the ski bum dream in Whistler. It initially provided agility for her snowboarding, skateboarding and trail running.

Now, as a teacher in Vancouver, she continually learns how to connect with others and feel at home in one’s skin.The magic of yoga surprisingly grows quieter; towards a place where the physical, the internal, the spectacle and the witness are all one. Carolyn’s past career was outdoors, in environmental restoration.

Since completing her first 200 hour YTT in 2008, she has an extensive CV: as a contributing writer for My Yoga Online and Halfmoon Yoga, filming videos with lululemon and Mala Collective, a presenter at Wanderlust Whistler Festivals, as an educator for international Teacher Trainings with Lila Vinyasa School of Yoga and Semperviva Yoga, managing yoga studios and guiding students through the mind blowing practice of just being while in silent meditation intensives.

She completed a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with Lori Lucas in 2016 and the Kula Yoga Project 75 hour advanced training with Schuyler Grant in 2013. Carolyn’s vinyasa classes are chock-full of unique alignment cues, smart sequencing, helpful touch and lighthearted jokes to which she pays gratitude to Schuyler Grant, Ana Forrest and Clara Roberts-Oss.

Her passion for silent meditation in forests is thanks to Adyashanti and Michelle St Pierre. The many years of ‘being on stage’ teach her the importance of stepping back in order to let life happen… to do the work, change the scenery by going upside down, be emotional and then let life continue to happen… and to remember, it’s all okay.

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