The Story Behind The Free Spirit Project
Why do we ‘work’ on ourselves?
Why do we try to optimise our health, our mood, our mind, our relationships?
Why does it so often feel like a one step forward, two steps back operation?
When we work hard to get rid of the stuff we don’t like—fear, sadness, frustration—we usually just end up with more of it. We get sad about being sad, anxious about being afraid, angry at ourselves for being angry so much of the time.
So why work at all and what are we working towards?
Years of watching people’s journeys has taught me that we make richer progress when we’re working towards getting free, rather than getting better. When we understand that we are in fact free, and live accordingly.
Not free of pain or fear or sadness—they all come as part of the human experience. But free of the struggle, free of the common tyrannies of the mind, with all its rules and shoulds.
Free of suffering.
Free of the crushing idea that we can achieve some kind of permanently ok state—if only we try hard enough/are smart enough/have enough of what we ‘need’.
To get free we need to consistently make some counter-intuitive moves. Experience our feelings rather than fight them; not believe everything that goes through our mind; learn to pause and step back when all our training is screaming at us to launch forward at full throttle and do, do, do.
This practice of committing to being human, of accepting the waves of human experience while pursuing what’s important, is most helpful when seen as a project.
The word project turns the heat down. It reminds us that we will never be finished—that there is actually no ‘there’ there. It helps keep us engaged and interested—focused on the process, rather than on the goal or the problem.
We can have many projects going at the same time. We can jump around and work on different things when we get bogged down, self-critical or frustrated.
Usually we’ll be experiencing movement in one project, while hitting road blocks in another.
A project gives us room to move.
We can also break down what we want to change into clear parts rather than stay mired in the malaise associated with a mountain of ‘just not right’.
This approach to our freedom work becomes light and creative as we focus on our ‘mindfulness project’ or our ‘improved relationship project’ or our ‘self-compassion project’. We are no longer just the beleaguered ego working on itself and always coming up short.
Rather, we are the Spirit, Soul, the Wise Self patiently putting one foot in front of the other in practical ways through projects that will help us recover our expansiveness and freedom.
In this way we experience ourselves as simultaneously the masterpiece and the work in progress, as both contented and unsatisfied.
We can learn to relax with the challenge of this and just move along. And connect with others to share resources, comfort, encouragement and good ideas. A community of escape artists: that’s what we'd like this to be.
Our training at The Free Spirit Project uses only mindfulness and ACT. We embrace an approach that is focused on harnessing natural strengths and abilities, developing self and other compassion and moving in valued directions in order to live a more vital life.