Freedom Personally and Socially

It seems like a good time to write about freedom, with the American Fourth of July Holiday that celebrates America’s independence from the Kingdom of Great Britian just two days away. Freedom is an interesting topic, because when thought about deeply, it reveals some of the Universe’s most profound truths.fireworks and change

Most often, we think of freedom as liberty from external constraint. This was certainly so with America’s founding fathers, who were seeking freedom from oppressive English laws. This sense of personal freedom underlies much of the individual, social and political ideology and behavior in the U.S. Americans value freedom, often above all else, which is one reason the U.S. takes on such a global leadership role attempting to bring democracy to oppressive parts of the world, although other, less noble reasons exist as well.

America is such a diverse country because millions have come here seeking freedom from governments and societies that have far more repressive and controlling laws and social norms. This freedom from external rule provides for greater opportunity to express ourselves as individuals and generate a life we choose to live. Freedom of choice is freedom from external control, and is the essence of what we collectively mean by freedom.

But freedom is not just about liberty in the outer world. It is also about the lack of constraint within. How many of us possess that level of freedom?

personal freedom and changeIn this morning’s mediation, I experienced the deep silent stillness of my inner Being, where spaciousness and choice, freedom and liberty abound. But then, at times, that freedom was disturbed and I’d realize that I was off in a chain of thought. The spaciousness and choice was replaced with the density and constraint of thinking about something I did not actually choose to think about. The thoughts just arose and took over, and I had no awareness of when it happened. I simply “woke up” in them, having them, being controlled by them. I didn’t choose them. I didn’t want them. But in that moment, they were in control of what my consciousness was attending to.

Once again consciously aware, I could witness those thoughts, choose to let go of those them and simply be. When witnessing, and observing my thoughts arise, I could sense the freedom and space in me once again. And the longer I witnessed, the deeper I would sink into the silent freedom within. I could find freedom, but only with conscious intention.

This ego based, conditioned thinking that I was observing this morning occurs in me 24/7/365, and it occurs in you, too. It is the autopilot of my own conditioning expressing; my beliefs, values and worldviews laying themselves on me and the world, governing my emotions, decisions, and actions. I live in America, where I have more external freedoms than most people, but am I truly free? Who is governing me, my ego’s conditioning or my Being’s authentic expression? How many of my thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and actions are really generated by my own freedom to choose, by my Being rather than the conditioning of my mind?

As agents of change, the more we can connect with the spaciousness within our own Beings, the more we can hold the space for the density and complexity of complex change. It is the freedom within that enables the freedom to change ourselves, our organizations, and the world.

How about for you? Are you as free as you want to be? And if not, how can you become more free?


  1. Aug 26, 2012
    7:36 pm

    Ruth Hirsch

    For me freedom will come with my education. As a multiple subject elementary teacher I do not have the choice at what school or what grade I teach, even after 23 years. As I enter my doctorate program, my freedom will come with the opportunities and choices that advanced education provides. However, it will be up to me to go after those opportunities and choices,

  2. Sep 11, 2012
    1:26 am

    S. Hayer

    Freedom, when thinking of it from this internal perspective, is elusive – at best. The conscious attending experience that leads to a true “witnessing” moment is something that requires frequency of practice. While freedom exists in other way, internal freedom, in this form, is a daily work-in-progress in my world. It is something that I certainly will focus upon with much more awareness than ever before.

  3. Sep 19, 2012
    11:29 pm

    Julianne Vela

    Internal freedom is a rare experience. It is difficult to slow down, back it up and decide that after all you are in charge of your life. Sitting still with yourself and pushing institutional/parental and societal norms from your thoughts to openly explore who you are and what you want, exploring your authentic self is elusive to me and at 48, I feel more pressure than ever before to figure out the answers to those questions. Hopefully, this doctoral program I’m in can help me in this journey.

    • Sep 20, 2012
      2:28 pm

      Dean Anderson

      It doesn’t need to be a rare experience. What if we simply didn’t need to push out the institutional / parental thoughts, or societal norms, or even figure out the answers? What if we could simply be, and let all else emerge as it would from there? Would that be a different degree of freedom?

  4. Sep 20, 2012
    12:38 am

    David Howard

    The day is what you make of it. We have the freedom to be confined by external obligations or free to explore what we so choose. I chose to participate in the Ed.D. program and I am free to succeed or fail based on the obligations of the program and how I decided to meet those needs.

  5. Sep 4, 2013
    10:36 pm

    Chris Fuzie

    Freedom, as a state of mind, is also a state of conscious being. With the consciousness of being, i.e. knowing who/what we are, we can choose to do what we want or “be” who we want. The norms of society and the limits of our own inner beliefs, values, personality, and needs will determine how far/in-depth we can go.

  6. Sep 6, 2013
    6:32 pm

    James Starks

    Freedom I believe lives in the true tolerance of diversity and inclusion regarding all things. Each day I live my life in hopes of projecting and expressing the importance of unity and compassion for others. I believe that by adopting this attitude, it will aide in generating the mental space I need to consistently operate within an autopilot conscious awareness state of mind as a leader—True freedom!

  7. Sep 11, 2013
    4:42 am

    Janice Austin

    No. I am not as free as I would like to be. My job requires that I am on call 24/7. I am in process of freeing myself from this by seeking employment else where. My focus is on the successful completion of the Ed.D program & I want to be free mentally to concentrate & participate without worrying about receiving emergency calls from the foster parents & Child Protective Services. Even when the office is closed, I am not free.

  8. Jul 22, 2014
    2:51 pm

    Dave Menshew

    First, interesting thoughts. Here are my responses:
    First, I heartily agree with the author that “freedom from external rule gives us greater opportunities to express ourselves as individuals” I do not see anywhere in his posting, the word “responsibility.” As with many who discuss and even practice their version of freedom here in America, the concept of responsibility is far from the discussion. We as Americans want to practice freedom in all of our many interpretations, but taking and practicing responsibility is not even considered.

    This gap in the author’s discussion reminds me of an issue that came up in one of my classes last year. A few months ago I happened to find myself in Southern California passing the site of the Paul Walker Tragedy. A few days later, I returned home to hear that three local teens had done something very similar, in their case, stole a car and drove it into a tree and burned to death. From a subsequent discussion, one of my students saw only the freedom to do what one wants, not the responsibility to act ethically nor much less measure risk vs. reward.

    So often I look around and see this in my daily experiences with my fellow Americans.

  9. Sep 17, 2014
    7:04 am


    I believe that I am free because after all, I control the choices that I make in my life, whatever the outcome/consequence/reward. For me, the question is not whether or not I am free…the question is how much freedom is afforded with each decision or choice that I make as I move through my life’s journey.

  10. Sep 7, 2015
    4:26 am

    Shawn Carney

    For me, to be able to extend my freedom is through knowledge. Having just started a new journey seeking my Ed.D., learning about new topics of leadership and communication not only allows me to grow as a person, but improve my mental freedom. Mental freedom could be defined as being a state in which a person is knowledgeable to the degree in which he/she is able to consciously define the state in which they are able to be an expert in a particular arena.

  11. Sep 13, 2016
    3:52 am

    Corey A. Givens

    I try my hardest to not ever take anything for granted. I am an active duty military officer and I can tell you that I am as free as I want to be. I am free to worship as I wish, be what I want to be, study what I want to study and the list goes on and on. Only in places like the United States of America can we say that we are truly free. I love this nation and will continue to serve this great land of ours.

  12. Sep 13, 2016
    5:38 pm

    Dean Anderson

    Corey, Thank you for your comments. I completely agree, in the context of the “external” world of politics, justice and law. There is no place on Earth that I’ve been that matches our freedoms. And, on the internal level, freedom is a way of being that can live in any of us in any external context. The more limitations that exist externally certainly ups the challenges of experiencing internal freedom, even exponentially, but the challenge of developing our internal freedom is each of ours despite our external lives. My addition – to speak to the internal world of our mindsets and beliefs, our ego’s conditioning and our Being’s spacious freedoms – is not to diminish or “ya-but” your right-on comments, but simply to expand the perspective / discussion to include both internal and external. Thanks again for contributing your point of view! I personally think it’s one we need to keep front and center.

  13. Sep 20, 2016
    10:33 pm

    Carolyn Dyson

    This doctoral program has affirmed what I already knew. That is, if i am to be a successful change agent within my family, other organizations and the body of Christ, I must be a believable model for change. The bible says ” You shall know them by their fruit” In other words, change agents will be known by what they produce. As an African American woman and a two time breast cancer survivor, my body should be a picture of improved health. It is not. this inconsistency challenges my ability to be a believable agent for change in the areas of prevention, life-style change, diet, exercise and health disparity for African Americans. What drives me, impedes my progress and annoys me? is it what I eat or whats eating me. When I can answer these questions, I can move towards inward change and transformation.

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