In our structured societies we have laws, rules, and regulations that are necessary to keep us safe and working towards common goals. Often these rules can quickly turn from well intentioned guidelines and tools for order, into actions, coming from a desire to control and maintain power.
In some ways we are completely free, while in many ways we are not, and all humans yearn to be free.
As very young children, we are typically given the permission to be free. We are allowed to play, to make mistakes, use our imagination, and learn.
Before too long, many of us are made to follow rules, wear clothes, conform to gender roles, and take life more seriously. I believe that through “growing up” into any given society, people lose their sense of freedom that can contribute to a spiritual emptiness for many.
This is why creating freedom is so vital to maintaining a happy spirit and supporting overall mental health. (Learn more in The Freedom in Letting Go.)
We can get in touch with our truly free selves through tools that include creative practices, connecting with our inner children through playfulness, and re-establishing a sense of human autonomy.
Let the Creative Juices Flow
Creativity can allow you to flow without measuring your output to some predetermined metric of success or completion.
For many people, creativity is music and art. The ability to open the flow of your own creativity is a talent but also a skill that grows stronger with practice. The more you allow yourself to sing, dance, jam on an instrument, paint or draw - without constraints - the more you will relax into the process.
This process allows you to release rigid control or expectations, and thus, you feel free.
Creativity is not limited to art, either. Anytime you are creating something new you are tapping into the flow of your creative juices. This could be cooking a meal, organizing an event, decorating a living space, planning a trip, or any number of things.
In your creativity, you can tap into your heart and spirit and allow it to guide you instead of living up to preconceived hopes or expectations. (Learn more in Practicing Aparigraha (Non-Attachment).)
Let Your Inner Child Out
Everyone has an inner child and many people lose touch with them. In some schools of healing, your inner child is believed to be your closest connection to your True Self and link to Source. (Learn more in How to Be Mindfully Aware of the Authentic Self.)
Your inner child is carefree and not afraid to make mistakes. They yearn to be themselves - playful and free.
We can connect with our inner children by practising play in our lives. It is a practice, since most of us have been conditioned to keep ourselves in order, but not everything has to be taken so seriously. Of course, as adults, there are times for important decisions and for adherence to rules, but, in between those times, we often forget that we can lighten up.
Reconnecting with your sense of freedom can come through childlike play. For example, you may think you are too old for certain games or activities. Loosen this control and give yourself permission to engage in free play.
Sometimes people connect with this free inner child in their adult romantic relationships, and at times it is not received. Embrace your partner’s and your own inner child that comes out and allow them to play. You can play games or play with sensation, which does not need to be sexual - it can be innocent.
You can explore and look at the world through fresh eyes with childlike wonder, without the need to judge or control what you are experiencing. Find safe places and safe relationships to be free to connect with your perhaps lost sense of childlike wonder.
Research about play actually shows that it is an efficient way for the brain to acquire and retain information. Not only do you learn better through play, but it has been shown to improve overall physical and emotional well-being. The more tasks that you take time to perform that are not mundane or repetitive, but instead make you feel happy, the less stressed you will be. It is proposed in the research that play is a vital human need just like sleep.
Your most free self is a wild and untamed self. One great way to connect with this sense of freedom is in nature. Being in nature connects us to our ancestors and to a time, when we were historically more free, without as many all pervasive constructs of society conditioning us, and dictating our thoughts or behaviors. (Learn more in Wisdom of the Elements: Learn the Qualities of Life Through Mother Nature.)
To go even further, living in community and in harmony with nature can be an incredible way to reconnect with your sense of freedom as a human being. For example, creating our own food to eat in a self-sustaining community is one way to do this, but you can start by simply planting your own garden.
Any sense of self-sustainability connects you to your inner free and wild human self that is not reliant on the bigger capitalistic (and often corrupt) institutions.
The more autonomy you can feel as a human being on Earth, who is looking out for their own well-being, and perhaps the well-being of their community as well, the more you may feel free to choose to engage in community and society. When we feel like we do not have a choice, we feel trapped in a system and not free to make our own choices.
Remember you were wild once, and this still capability lies within your spirit and genes.
Create, Play, and Let Go
Creativity, play, and freedom are three states of being that generally reinforce one another. The more you play, the more creative you are and vice versa.
Creativity and playfulness can also allow you to experience a sort of free flow whereby you are in a meditative state. This is the ultimate freedom.
When judgments, thoughts, worries, expectations, and anticipation ceases to be present - you are free. Let go and melt into the present moment.
Allow your inner child, your wild self, and your creative expressions to be seen.
Set yourself free.