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Freedom and Self Control

Freedom and Self Control

When we consider self control it often brings up ideas of self deprivation or forced willpower. Although these are forms of controlling yourself, there isn’t really any freedom in them, right? Here, Veronika Tugaleva and Urban Spiritual share a real form of self control that offers freedom as well as results:

One morning I woke up and was plunged into psychological shock. I had forgotten I was free.
― Jack Henry Abbott

There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of self-control conjured within me images of uptight businessmen, lifeless machine-like drones, and judgmental purists.

All my life I yearned for freedom. Self-control, I thought, was most certainly not freedom. How could I be free if I couldn’t do what I wanted?

For many of us, self-control entails fist-clenching, breath-holding, red-faced willpower – eye-to-eye with temptation. And eventually, if that works enough times, a submissive, head-down, tail-between-the-legs, menial existence drowned in the pain of unfulfilled desires.

Self-control through complete denial and repression isn’t really self-control. It’s more like torture.

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A few months before I experienced an intense spiritual transformation, I had decided to quit smoking. At the time, I did not realize that every thought I had, and every action I took was connected; that there was a reason I smoked. There’s always a reason, no matter how buried.

I thought that by quitting, I’d solve many of my issues, but I was only addressing a symptom of some deeper problem, and thus continued to be self-destructive, and feel shameful and inauthentic.

It was like pulling a single strand out of a tangled ball of thread. When I tried to pull one, all the others came with it in stubborn, tight knots. The harder I pulled, the more tangled it all became.

And I relapsed…and relapsed…and relapsed again.

All the while, I would rationalize to myself, Maybe I’m just too broken to quit. Maybe I’ve got an addictive personality. Maybe I have to smoke to be creative.

I’d look at the process of quitting as a process of “self-control” – the torture version. It was miserable. I hated it. I wanted, desperately, to smoke. I believed I needed it. I believed that I was the kind of person who couldn’t really be good or normal. And thus, every moment without a cigarette was excruciating.

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Each time I relapsed, I felt free; free to do as I pleased. I’d tell myself that life without cigarettes was a life of slavery. I could only be free if I was doing what I wanted. Like this, I allowed myself to remain in a cycle of pain and self-destruction.

As the pain of attempted self-control followed by relapse built more and more, I finally had a major breakdown, and I realized how truly enslaved I was, how little freedom I actually had.

From that realization sprung a great epiphany weaved with a hundred tiny strands of thread that I had patiently and painfully unwound from my body, mind, and soul. I realized the truth: self-control means soul-in-control. It means allowing the most authentic, pure part inside all of us to lead. Self-control is simple. It is the only freedom. And the fuel is faith.

In that space, quite suddenly, smoking became unnecessary. As did judgement; as did shame; as did resentment, and self-destruction.

Suddenly, life was simple.

We all deeply crave to live life doing what we want, when we want. I think the reason that self-control seems to be the opposite of that is that many people are not in touch with their deepest desires. So we turn to what seems obvious, and relatively easy – cars, money, clothes, etc. But in the end those things have the potential to take us far from our inner lives.

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We think we want the riches of the material world, but it is fool’s gold. Those things fade and leave us disappointed, yet after we’ve worked so hard to get them, we must reassure ourselves again, and again that it’s what we wanted.

It isn’t until we get to the bottom of the barrel, finding ourselves accidentally in a prison we’ve built for ourselves brick-by-brick, having gone years without actually feeling happy, that we realize: self-control is not the opposite of freedom. Self control is freedom.

It is only when our truest self is in control that we can finally be happy.

In the ocean of life – this exhilarating, mysteriously deep, and sometimes turbulent ocean of existence – the only way to sail freely is to have a well-trained, capable, wise captain who can shelter you from the storms. Hint, hint – the captain is you!

Those who cannot control themselves are slaves. They are slaves to their own pain, to which they are so unconsciously attached. And subsequently, they are slaves to a system that gladly exploits the time and money of those who are willing to trade their lives away for a measure of security. The system works this way only because we allow it to. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s everyone’s responsibility.

It is time for us to awaken, to realize once and for all that the ultimate safety and the most precious security is that of the boundless, eternal self.

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We are already free. Free to choose to be guided by who we really are. We already have freedom of thought, freedom of love, freedom of spirit.

We are free to graciously and compassionately control ourselves in the effort for greater self-realization.

Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, reformed cynic, people lover, and a very different kind of spiritual teacher. Inspiring and wise beyond her years, Vironika Tugaleva helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You’re invited to read more about Vironika by clicking the link below, and get your copy of her complimentary ebook: How to Find Love: A Brief (But Essential) Guide (www.vironika.org/findlove).

The Freedom Of Self Control | Urban Spiritual

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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