Freedom is a controversial topic for today, and as you read this post, ask yourself:
- Are you free?
- Do you think about freedom?
- What does it mean to you?
This current research explored the questions:
- What are people’s personal experience of freedom and what meaning does it hold for them?
- How do people’s views differ and is there any central theme through their meaning and/or experience?
The research came about because of the COVID19 lockdown in March 2020.
I was curious about freedom from the lockdown in March 2020.
I was challenged by the restrictions and how it triggered my own value of freedom.
I was physically restricted.
I was still free to think and feel.
I was free to fly in my imagination.
I was interested in understanding what other people thought and how they experienced freedom.
The research method: Heuristic inquiry (Moustakas, 1990).
Interesting: because it included the researchers own dynamic understanding around freedom, drawing on intuitive insight, and passion for freedom.
The research interviewed 11 individuals (6 male and 5 females)
All participant names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.
The aim was to explore personal freedom: the essential nature and meaning of this unique phenomenon.
The research identified the following three main themes of inquiry:
- Limitations to freedom
- Inner sense of freedom
- Spiritual freedom
- The limitations to freedom: How do we set ourselves free?
Richie thinks: “The way to be free is to confront our fears, our beliefs, the things which trap us, and chain us to certain perspectives”.
Hadia’s view: “The ability to do what we enjoy doing, what makes life worth living, when something is taken away, you suddenly realise how valuable it is”.
Noor felt: “I have a physical sense of being squeezed in and I want to immediately kind of break-out, escape and run away”.
2. The inner sense of freedom: Where do we find it?
I have “that inner sense of freedom, flying free like a bird, that imaginative, playful, feeling of free inside”.
Lily: “Being creative, art that resonates with my true self, having wings, wanting to fly away”.
Max: “I think freedom is the best feeling it’s like a peak experience, the absence of struggle”.
Oscar: “Freedom is being yourself, being able to express who you are”.
3. Spiritual freedom touches the transcendent, by going beyond and the immanent, by being one with nature, or ourselves
Spiritual freedom for me is a journey of awakening, it is about letting go, acceptance and finding connection to my essence, or self-realisation.
Spiritual freedom connects me to the essence that premediates the universe.
The feeling of being one.
Being in the flow, where intuition, imagination, and creativity meet as long-lost lovers to become the union of all there is.
The beauty, power, wisdom, and knowledge, which flows through all living things.
To be kind, to heal and to be loving.
Alignment with Spirit, within and beyond, the feeling of bliss, harmony, and joy.
Isis: “Freedom, it’s the feeling of being one with everything”.
Noor: “That sense of freedom and expanse, connectedness”.
Oscar: “Being in a flow state is a spiritual aspect of life”.
From the three themes, an overarching theme of embodiment, was identified:
To be embodied or not to be embodied!!
The integration of the embodied experiences of myself and the co-researchers is articulated as:
- Freedom is an embodied experience in the present moment.
- A feeling of being at home with yourself.
- An alignment with body, mind, and spirit.
- Expanding awareness
- An awakening to our inner worlds.
- Connect to the Self within and Self beyond.
- Spiritual essence.
- Integration of all aspects of Self (higher), and self (ego).
- Potential for transformation and enlightenment.
Possible direction for future research:
To expand the research on personal freedom to cover wider demographics and age ranges.
To explore people of the world’s views of freedom.
To incorporate elements of social, political, and economic freedom.
To embrace an integrative, transpersonal, and embodied perspective.
Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic Research: Design, methodology, and applications. Sage.
Inner freedom: www.innerfreedominstitute.org.
Matthieu Ricard: Finding Inner Freedom | Sounds True: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X826IlUb_hA
Inner Freedom! What Is It? How Can You Feel it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG9sfdhwISI
Freedom and Anxiety – The Inner God vs The Inner Worm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlBVxzuDveY
Alice Cooper – Freedom (Official Music Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL1kQQbhmY8
Embodied Spirituality: Ferrer, J. N. (2008). What does it mean to live a fully embodied spiritual life? The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27(1), 1-11.