“Why should I not sit every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world?” Mary Oliver
Since July is the month of our nation’s independence, I’m taking this month to reflect on personal independence. When we think of independence, usually freedom and the ability to live, work or function on our own come to mind. But, as self-awareness develops through our mindfulness practice, another level of independence reveals itself. Here are some ideas to get you musing and maybe even journaling:
1. Celebrate interdependence. Know that as much as we all love our independence we will never be completely independent. The word interdependence reminds us we are all part of a whole universe and we need to respect each other and ourselves for the roles we perform. Even if we choose to live off-the-grid, we may be less dependent on man, but more dependent on nature and the land, so still not completely independent. I am dependent on clients needing my personal training services – it’s how I make a living – but they are dependent on me to help them achieve better health and wellness. Think of all the people you depend on for services or daily living, and those who depend on you. Celebrate both.
2. Celebrate liberation. Use your past as a tool to remind you of your victories and the person you are today. If you were in an abusive relationship that you were able to get out of or had an addiction you were able to overcome, remind yourself that you are a survivor and not a victim. This will reinforce your resolve and give your strength to free yourself from other circumstances or people who bind you. Also recall that our past – our need of approval from parents and teachers — can still rule our present. Reflect on whether you rely too often on the approval of others to move ahead or if you sacrifice doing what you like in order to please them. This is dependence on others. Seek independence from that and learn to balance giving and receiving. Stay mindful so you will be aware of habitual speech and actions you still practice that are based on a dated belief system. Liberate yourself from the past so you can remain true to your present self.
3. Declare future independence by taking liberty in the sweet land of the present. How can you assert yourself now that could pave the way towards a more independent future? Often, when we feel stuck, we have feelings of hopelessness that we have to wait until some better future time to get unstuck. Instead, bloom where you are planted. When we feel mired in the muck of life, one small ritual we create can keep our passions and our true self alive to remind us not to give up. Take baby steps towards future goals. Practice speaking up for yourself, even in a small way. Express gratitude daily for what you do enjoy today. The future will blossom if we take care to cultivate and celebrate the present.
4. Practice acceptance of dependence. Perhaps one of life’s most difficult challenges. No one knows what the future holds and none of us are exempt. Accept help from others when needed, or even when not needed, to practice for the future. Express appreciation. Stay present to angry feelings that arise from not being able to do what you used to do on your own. Be aware of the tendency to look away when you see the old, sick or infirm. Instead, visualize yourself in their wheelchair or hospital bed, with the same mind and being, trapped in a body that is dependent on others for daily needs. Express gratitude for all the independence you’ve enjoyed in your lifetime so you can better embrace another cycle of life that many of us may one day endure. Help those with a loving heart and compassion will bloom for yourself as well.
Write your own declaration of independence to state your intentions and stay mindful of your liberties. Here’s mine:
I want to be independent in my thinking and the way I choose to live. To stand up for my beliefs. To trust my intuition. To be myself. To do things (sometimes) for the pure pleasure of pleasing myself, rather than for the sake of pleasing others. I want to make the most of this life and use all my God-given gifts and hope that when the day comes when I need help I will be willing to accept it.
Celebrate & Declare Your Independence!
For more tips on mindfulness, read “Twelve Mindful Months: Cultivating a Balanced & Fit Body, Mind & Spirit” by Carol Tibbetts. Stay on the mindful path with me by signing up to get future blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.