Do you truly experience freedom?
If you can’t answer this question, may I suggest taking a test?
Snowboarding: A Litmus Test For Experiencing Freedom
As I’m tapping away on this keyboard, I have charlie horses, stiffness, and horrible flexibility. Why? Because when I snowboarded this past Saturday, I resisted freedom.
I’ll use “burning loins” to sum up my first few runs.
As I began gliding down the slope, my legs fought against the snow. I decided there was no way I was going to fall. But, due to this phenomenon known as gravity, I would gain speed, and experience an epic wipe out.
I soon found myself separated from my friends and alone on my third lift ride up. I was frustrated. But, as my lift chair passed over some trees, I felt this foreign peace to the moment, and heard Carl Jung’s words,
What you resist, persists.
I relaxed and envisioned the snow and ice crevices beneath my board, and instead of fearing my board would catch them, I enjoyed tracing and moving with the formations. I even accepted and embraced falling.
As my lift chair reached the top, I experienced a newfound freedom. My runs dramatically improved.
I still had some wipeouts, but my attention was now on experiencing the moment.
I find I often live my life the same way I snowboard. I like control. I don’t want to be hurt, so I avoid situations where the likelihood is higher. When I find myself losing ground and descending, I fight it.
I want to talk specifically about shame because when I experience it, I tend to go into avoidance overdrive.
If I do something I know is wrong, I backtrack, cover up, and attempt to justify myself. I tell myself I just have to work a little bit harder. Perhaps I need more accountability? One thing is for sure–I make a resolution I will never do this again!
Carl Jung would say I’m focused too much on the negative, and I’m only allowing it to reproduce. In these moments, it’s time to focus on something positive. As Michael Beckwith says,
Learn to become still. And to take your attention away from what you don’t want, and all the emotional charge around it, and place your attention on what you wish to experience.
And of course, I want to experience success. I want that solid confidence from within. I want to reach the unreachable. And mostly, I want to reach beyond to the heavenly. Michael’s quote reminds me of Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God.
I find a certain peace when I read these words, but putting them into action is another story.
I could could write another list about experiencing freedom, but why recreate the wheel? The original 12 steps adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous can break any shame cycle.
- We admit we are powerless (which means we recognize our resistance).
- Believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us (focus on the higher power).
- Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (surrender our resistance).
- Make a fearless moral inventory of ourselves (recognize our weaknesses).
- Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (by accountable to our shortcomings).
- Be ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of people we have harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continue to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God.
- Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Even with a mask and a hood on, falling while snowboarding is embarrassing. Failure and exposure in real life is traumatic. The fear is real. But resistance will only keep us from experiencing success.