We were supposed to meet for dinner, but then I received his text: I have to cancel. I have to wind down the company as our funding got pulled tonight. He is my friend and the company is an extension of his deep belief that there is a better way to do X. He sees this possibility and so for the last four years has poured himself into making it exist in the world.
And now this. A kind of freedom.
Freedom tastes bitter when it comes unwanted. Your relationship ends. Your position is eliminated. Your funding is pulled. Freedom is sometimes an unexpected loss. The ground drops from beneath your feet, and there’s a weightlessness before the sense of falling kicks in.
Freedom can also taste sweet, expansive, and enormous. It can taste like the walk to Mile Rock Beach: the scent of green growing things, the steps down to the sand, the ocean crashing before you and the warm sun pressing your cheek through the salt air, beneath the drape of clear blue sky.
Meditation, movement, and mindfulness are the tools with which I taste freedom. The sweet and the bitter. I train my attention and my body, so that I may experience Life more fully. I teach meditation, movement, and mindfulness, so that others can taste it for themselves.
Many of my students work in tech companies, or are entrepreneurs. Some teachers. Many are lawyers. My students are ambitious, dedicated, talented, beautiful, and sometimes overwhelmed. They tell me that my class leaves them feeling inspired, accepted, and empowered. This makes me happy. I want to live in a world of people like that.
A point of clarification about this work (meditation, movement, and mindfulness):
Freedom is not the absence of emotion, thoughts, desire, or stress. Rather, freedom is your relationship to all of that. You still have all those human experiences. But you are no longer enchained to them.
It is so important that you know this.
Life is overwhelming. There’s so much of it, and it’s so fluid and powerful. Increase your capacity to be present with the full range of your human experience. Emotions come and go. Thoughts come and go. Pressure and stress and companies and relationships come and go. Yet rather than being dragged around and flung by them, you’re able to remain grounded, centered, and light. When you get knocked down, shaken, or distracted, you come back. When you feel overwhelmed, like you’re being crushed or smothered, or your thoughts are racing so fast you just can’t sleep. . . Come back to breath, to body.
As you practice, you become skillful at noticing your experience, and it changes your relationship to it in a small yet tremendously significant way. That’s the freedom that comes from a meditation, movement, and mindfulness practice.
Lately, I’ve been seeing many stories about people in tech and start-ups struggling with stress, depression and burn-out, and sometimes killing themselves. And I see friends and students coping with the pressure and turbulence of work and love and life. I needed to write this today. I want you to know what freedom tastes like. And I want you to know how to cultivate it for yourself.
Be curious. Savor all of it.