Freedom is a well-documented concept that has become part of our moral fiber. We live in the land of the free after all.
However, in a society that increasingly puts value on what we have or what we have the ability to acquire, the definition of freedom changes. Our stuff is slowly becoming part of our constraints.
Additionally, the desire for others to know about and admire how free we are is becoming a self-inflicted prison. Even if we are someone who does not put value on trying to keep up with a Kardashian, we can fall into other social traps that slowly change how we define being free.
We are in competition with invisible entities. Having outlets like social media can at times trap us in cycles of likes, stalking or just mindless searching—for nothing. Literally nothing. You end up on a stranger’s social media page, which started with a curious notion about someone who liked a friends post. Down a rabbit hole three hours later, you find yourself irritated that the page of someone you have never seen in life is set to private.
And we can’t stop.
Being connected and checking in, even if it is at your weekend meditation retreat, starts to limit how we define being free. We need people to know we do these evolved human being activities and, therefore, are awesome
The phrase, “be in the moment” has become a new standard mantra. It has been most popular in the yoga communities and spread out in our social circles. Other than being liked, we share as well, and this is a great idea to spread in the world. It is an awesome concept that basically means I am free to be here at this time, and I need nothing more. We should meet these moments with appreciation and gratitude.
At times we have began to use the phrase sarcastically when a companion or ourselves can’t disconnect from the distractions of our phones and connectedness.
However, after we have checked in online and subsequently documented every moment for public consumption, can we say we lived in the moment?
Just putting your phone away for a few hours, while a challenge, does not provide us the freedom of the moment we all deserve. We still have self-inflicted limits to our freedom. We are booked and scheduled from morning to night. We have to cut moments short since we have scheduled this moment for two hours and 42 minutes at the most, as we have to make our next engagement. Being free also means being busy and sought after; at least, that’s what we are told.
We are led to believe that sitting and simply engaging with your immediate world in any moment is a waste of time. There are so many things we have committed to doing, there isn’t time to develop appreciation for any. We have forgotten how to see something with our own eyes instead of through our smartphone cameras. We sit watching our children’s special moments through a video as we are recording it—at times thoughtlessly, when we should be watching mindfully with the hope of making eye contact and actually connecting with them. The next potential viral moment could be missed otherwise.
So what does it mean to truly live in the moment?
To redefine our freedom could mean reevaluating our value structure.
We are not free if we can be found every day of every moment. And more importantly, if we feel the need to be found, we are not free. We have slowly closed ourselves in self-inflicted social acceptance jails. Even if we want to be a part of the counterculture, we try to make a point of it so that everyone knows.
Finding freedom is about finding ourselves truly in every moment. Defining our thoughts, our feelings and ourselves. Re-learning how to enjoy a moment that went from day to night without feeling you missed out on an unknown that wasn’t a part of that moment.
That’s the simplicity of appreciation and gratitude—and ultimately being free. Un-scheduling your life at times and allowing yourself the moments that no one knows about. Not just our dirty little secrets we feel the need to hide. We all have something no one knows about, but it’s likely something we find burdensome.
This is not about hiding from the world, but rather making our own worlds more important to ourselves. Finding the gratitude and appreciation for the moments we have and allowing ourselves to do so.
The concept of living in the moment was never meant to turn into a cliché. It was meant to be a reminder to each of us that time is precious. And the time we have with the world around us is fleeting.
Our challenges come and go and our lives ever evolve. Learning from it means paying attention; it means presence in the moment that we need to grow. Being free is about the moments we have to absorb the world around us, for that moment. Life is always changing and teaching us of impermanence. Every situation is temporary; allowing ourselves the freedom to really live is a challenge.
We have to break the mentality that if no one clicks “like,” our world lacks value.
The joy in being free is defining your value by the joy of your heart and allowing that to take precedence in life. If we define freedom as appreciation, gratitude and acceptance, we will feel the binds of our imposed restrictions loosen.
Ultimately, this will lead to us all living in the moment—and finally being free.
Author: Gichele Cocrelle
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Shanon Wise/Flickr