I woke up today thinking about this thing called “Independence.” As a person with roots in two historically marginalized ethnic groups (African American and Native American) I find the concept of celebrating America’s “Independence” ironic, if not short sighted.
Still I think that each of use should have our own “Independence Day,” a day to free ourselves from the past. One of the reasons that people find religions like Christianity and Islam attractive is because both faiths offer a break from the previous self, and provide guidance on how to become a “new” person. Particularly in Protestant Christianity, people can become “born again” if they believe that Jesus is their savior.
I believe that no matter your personal history or spiritual path, you can always be born again. You can always start anew. The present is all that really exist, right? Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. Starting over doesn’t just work for bad things. Getting hung up on the good things in our past can be harmful too. Be thankful for the blessings in your past, but don’t get stuck on them. Each day brings with it unlimited possibilities, as long as you don’t limited yourself by referencing your past experiences.
Shaking the past is one of my greatest personal challenges. I have come up with a ritual for starting over that helps me re-frame the current moment as a completely new experience.
Freedom’s Starting-Over Ritual:
1. Get the old feeling out by writing: I like to use a program like Journler to write out my feelings on my laptop, but paper is just as good. Personally, I like keeping my thoughts in one place, and I like the privacy that a computer program offers.
2. Move: If you feel mentally stagnant, you are physically stagnant.Â Run, walk, dance, punch air. Do something physical to change your current mental state.
3. Breath it out: In Kundalini yoga, there’s a technique called “Fire breathing,” which requires that you take a deep breath, stick out your tongue, and pant fast and hard like a dog. Once your lungs are completely our of air, repeat. It feels incredibly silly, but it works. For me, it actually feels like the old emotions are coming out. I do this for 10-15 minutes.
4. Bring something new into your space/experience. This can be something small, like a flower or a new food. Feel free to use this time to indulge yourself in something you’ve wanted for a while, as long as it truly adds to the quality of your life. For me, I’ve wanted an Ipod speaker docking station with an alarm clock for months, and I finally got one yesterday. So far, it has added to my life by allowing me to play music in my room while I’m cleaning, and I can wake up to songs or podcasts instead of the beeping on my cell phone.
5. Be the”new” you. Start acting the way you want to be. This may feel phony at first, but it is key that you start reconditioning yourself with your new emotions. Studies have shown that clinically depressed people who smiling for no reason for 20 minutes each day become less dependent on anti-depressive medication.
This is my personal routine, but I encourage you to come up with one of your own. Whatever you do, make sure that your routine has movement, visual changes and action.
Enjoy your independence day, and remember: You can always start over. Always.
NOTE: This post was inspired by the work of Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and the Chopra Wellness Center podcast, available on Itunes.