The first time I heard a spiritual teacher discussing true freedom, something about what she said, or better yet—emanated from her being—rang true for me, and it has taken many years for the concept of spiritual freedom to sink into my bones.

At the time I was listening to her, I hadn’t thought about enlightenment as freedom. I hadn’t thought about life as a journey taken to ultimately experience inner freedom.

What surprised me the most in my own journey is that I didn’t expect very much, if any, of my freedom to be the result of being present with the challenges in my life.

But for me, as it is for many of us, this is where the journey to freedom really began. I wanted the journey to be lofty and fun. I wanted happiness, angels, light, and waves of love. And, there was plenty of that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the need to take a conscious, yet loving, look at the messes I was creating.

Like the oil spills in our oceans, freedom occurs after everything gets cleaned up. The real challenge is in responsibly cleaning up the mess without blaming yourself or anyone else in the process.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Yes, but other people need to take their share of responsibility.” And I would agree with you. I would also add that there is a difference between holding one’s self and/or others responsible and blaming with a heart filled with angry judgments.

By assuming responsibility for our own parts in the creation of whatever mess has been made, we are in a better position to expect others to step up to their share of responsibility.

In my quest for spiritual freedom, I found myself and still do find myself, needing to take a look at the reality I create in its entirety, including the habits and choices that are uncomfortable for me to acknowledge. The key to freeing the broken, messy parts of me is to look with loving eyes—to look with kindness.

I have found no greater freeing agent in my own spiritual development than compassion for the ugliest parts of myself. Within my compassion, what I have created that I am most ashamed of, regret, or am embarrassed about, soften in the presence of compassion.

They are no longer messes of energy inside of me that I try to keep hidden from the view of others. They no longer come spontaneously spilling out in moments of anger, frustration or despair. They quietly find their rest in the understanding of my own heart. They simply cease to exist and are replaced by freedom.

In my experience, sometimes we hesitate to assume fair responsibility for our messes because we are afraid of the judgment we will impart upon ourselves or we fear the harsh criticism of others. However, the wonderful result of assuming compassionate, yet honest self-responsibility, is that it typically creates an opening for greater compassion from both yourself and others.

You don’t have to wait for a dark night of the soul or a time of great despair to wrestle with your inner demons in the journey to greater spiritual freedom. You can do it that way, but as many of you know, it is a very hard path.

You can choose to do it daily as you open yourself to greater and greater compassion for yourself and others. Compassion can be generated by catching yourself from saying something judgmental to another or slowly releasing critical judgment of yourself. Compassion can be reflected in a thoughtful e-mail, an honest yet kind word, or a true and caring gesture.

Compassion is something you deepen into over time. You cultivate it within you until it becomes your natural response to difficult situations.

The meditation I most recommend for cultivating compassion for yourself and others is an ancient meditation based in Sacred Feminine, or yin, consciousness. It is called the Holding.

You can download a free recording of it on our home page:

It is the most powerful meditation for compassion that I’ve experienced in 30 years of meditation, and it is available to you for free.

As you become a daily giver and receiver of compassion, and in doing so, become the spiritual freedom that you seek.