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  • Sherise Schlaht

FUNDAMENTALS OF FREEDOM

I am confident that my brain is still foggy from the food coma that was endured this weekend (as a result of Thanksgiving), so I am a little slow getting back into the swing of life today. Also, points will be awarded to the person who offers an explanation as to why driving long distances is so tiring. This has always been rather perplexing to me because you are sitting, doing virtually nothing, and your mind is freely wandering. What about this scenario is tiring? Perhaps the tiredness is a result of inactivity and boredom? All that I know for certain is that nearly 100% of the time we are driving, we are distracted because the mind is never fully concentrated at the task at hand. It is likely we are attentive only in situations in which we are frightened; incidents as such pull us out of our mind for a split second. It is quite comical to think that we don’t need a cell phone, radio, food, etc. to be distracted. Let’s hope law enforcement doesn’t join the quest for awakening or we will all be in for many unpleasant surprises.

This week’s post is unconventional because from the onset, I have not a clear direction or topic. As the reader, you will have to bear with me as I bounce around until a theme reveals itself. I begin with a conversation that took place this weekend, in which I vocalized the realization that I can fully attribute my position in life today to privilege. Privilege typically arises in conversations about race (which is equally valid), but the context I was using it in for this example was relevant to the privilege of being born as a Millennial or Generation Y. I would like to emphasize that not every Millennial shares the same story of privilege. For my parents’ generation and those before, life was lived on the basis of survival. When survival is the predominant discourse in life, there exists minimal room for freedom and choice. I was born into this life removed from the script of survival. I had the opportunity to explore interests and hobbies, obtain an education, and pursue employment based on curiosity rather than necessity. I acknowledge here that there are numerous other instances that exemplify privilege, but this is lens I am inhabiting today. The main purpose of the sharing of this instance is to demonstrate my immense gratitude for the countless moments in my life in which I had enough space to exercise the use of freedom and choice. Much to my own demise, in the presence of privilege, choice, and freedom, I rarely chose the path of no suffering.

In a moment of clarity this week, it occurred to me that on a subconscious level we are wired to suffer and thus on some level, we choose to suffer. Even though this suffering is often perceived as unpleasant and painful, it is ever-present in our lives. Amidst this philosophising, a question arose: Can we feel without suffering? The response: Absolutely. Here, it occurred to me that the objective of life is to feel every experience, exactly as it is, as it arises. Feelings are not inherently good or bad, pleasant or painful; feelings are simply energetic arisings. These energetic arisings have different potencies (certain energetic arisings can feel like massive waves, while others may be a small ripple). The perception and interpretation of our feelings takes place on the level of mind. On this level, we label and judge each feeling, which eventually creates categories for feeling experiences. The categorizing into good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, is socially constructed. What would a world with complete, non-judgemental acceptance of feelings look like? From my perspective, this world would be beautifully sacred. Every being would have the permission and freedom to honour their emotional encounters in each moment. I believe that this allowance would alleviate much of the long-term suffering we endure; we would be less inclined to stow away our emotional arisings, which when stowed, become painful and festering narratives/stories that are carried with us for the next twenty, thirty, or even forty years of our lives. Repressed emotions are more formally defined as shadow emotions in the counselling world. Robert Bly delves into the shadow realm in his book, “A Little Book on the Human Shadow.” I frequently utilize Bly’s second chapter (The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us) in my practice, as it elegantly portrays the phenomenon following the repression of feelings and attributes. “We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of our self to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again. Sometimes retrieving them feels impossible, as if the bag were sealed. …. The story says that when we put a part of ourselves in the bag, it regresses. It de-evolves into barbarism” (pp. 18-19). Again, playing with the concept of non-judgemental acceptance, the long bag isn't necessary.

As the week progresses, the invitation for moi and you as the reader, if you do feel inclined to participate, is to be more intentional with the use of freedom. In each moment, one can choose acceptance of what arises, or one can choose rejection, which will knowingly lead to prolonged suffering. Whatsoever the decision, go forth with confidence and accountability.


High fives from down low,


Sherise

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