Q: Is Pain a Necessary Part of Experiencing Freedom? – Brandi S.
A: I’m so glad you asked this question because I’ve been giving it A LOT of thought.
Yoga Philosophy says that we are limitless beings (free) but in order to see ourselves this way we must go through the process of peeling back the labels we use to define ourselves. We are attached to so many external things— our possessions, relationships, careers, everything— but because they are external they are all temporary and can therefore only provide temporary happiness. Which means, when we lose them or our relationship to them changes, because we are human, there will likely be some pain and suffering.
As children, we are provided with guidelines on how to live from the people that show up the most in our young lives. And as we age, may of us will begin to fear we have something to lose because we’ve attached so much of our own worth and value to these people and the things they’ve instilled in us. The thought of living without certain people and things can become more painful than the act of truly losing them.
But the hard fact is: Everything is temporary. So freedom requires changing the way that we look at our lives. It’s helpful to adopt a lasting sense of gratitude for the external things, but always keep in mind that if all of it were to be taken away, true contentment comes from the fact that everything we need is already within. These are painful musings for most people– Could you still be happy if everything and everyone in your life as you know it were taken away from you? What would be left? Could you still find meaning and purpose?
Understanding freedom in the yogic sense does require change since this knowledge is generally not shared as part of our upbringing. Any sort of significant change is often painful. People fear it. Yet, freedom cannot live where fear dwells. So it may serve us well as yogis to give ourselves permission to “go there” occasionally and experience moments of quiet solitude (like meditation, ding ding ding!), to be alone and grow to be sure of the light in our own hearts, be sure of that sense of ourselves that is unchanging and has been the same since we came into existence in this human form. We have the opportunity to co-exist with some beautiful people and things in this lifetime, but we come in as we are and we leave as we are, without any of these attachments. Accepting this and applying that knowledge to our lives requires a strong trust in our own intuition and vast amounts of self-love.
And yes, sometimes this inner knowing includes temporary feelings of pain. But isn’t it more painful to be constantly pushed and pulled around by our attachments and desires? That roller coaster is exhausting and we have the power to get off the ride whenever we choose.
Thank the Universe there is a practice like yoga which provides ample tools to help us along this path!
Thanks for reading! ~ Megan
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