This morning at 6:15 a.m., I was sitting cross-legged in a dimly lit living room in one of the houses at my ashram with 20 other yogis. I was stiff; I was tired. I was grateful to be there. (Little did I know.)
Swami began our meditation this morning with a single statement: What I most want is . . . blank.
It came ringing up from me without hesitation.
What I most want is Freedom.
I’ve been looking for a long time. And I’ve been looking in the wrong place. Even after a decade of yoga and meditation, I’ve been looking in the wrong place.
I’ve been looking for Freedom from my professional life. I’ve equated Freedom with self-expression and a fulfilled professional purpose.
You see, professional achievement is part of my identity. So, surely, if I could just get that right, I’d be free of how confined, how constricted, I feel.
Initially, I wanted to be free of the culture of legal and corporate work. That would surely give me freedom.
Then, I wanted to be free of the conflict I’d created in myself by rejecting the corporate culture of legal work.
And, finally, without having fully thrown off the legal culture or the internal conflict, I’ve wanted to be free of financial struggle.
This is a big one.
It’s constant. And like any good entrepreneur, I’ve turned to my business model to provide it for me.
My business model, if I get it right, will provide me the money I need to feel safe and valuable, to be fully self-expressed and fulfill my professional purpose, to allow me a lifestyle not tied to geography or time at the office—and that will give me Freedom.
I see my desire for this freedom reflected back to me in communities of entrepreneurs. There is a promise of it: financial freedom.
The beauty of a spiritual teacher is that she steps in and turns your entrenched thinking on its head.
What I want most is Freedom. . . and there it was for me. There in the silence of that dawn meditation.
And I realized: I’ve been going about Freedom in exactly the wrong way. My business model cannot give me Freedom. Nor is my Freedom something to put off until my business model makes my business the intended and desired amount of money.
So, I’ve turned my approach on its head:
I’m cultivating Freedom first.
And from that space, designing (and redesigning) my business model for what it is. A business model.
Because I, like so many others, am demanding something—Freedom—that my business model can’t give.