MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The 4th of July is America’s Independence Day, a celebration of freedom. That was last week. This morning we’re talking about internal freedom. Nena Nimit with the Meditation Center of Alabama joins us to talk about mental freedom–what is that?
Guest: Mental freedom is a state of being free from our thoughts and emotional afflictions. It is not a state of having no thoughts but instead not being controlled by them. The realization that our thoughts are not true or false but can be harmful or helpful. We sometimes act on our judgments and misperceptions, causing us to speak and act in a way that brings unnecessary suffering to ourselves and loved ones. Mental freedom is being able to step back and have an awareness of this reality of life. You can imagine that your mind is like the wide-open spacious skies and your thoughts are like clouds just passing through the sky. Just observe and allow your thoughts to come and go and come back to the spacious skies. And when we can access this state of mind we will feel more light, spacious, and free, and a sense of inner peace and well-being will arise.
Anchor: How can we achieve a state of mental freedom?
Guest: There are many ways to achieve freedom from the negative emotions and internal stresses of the mind. One of those ways is by cultivating positivity. Loving-kindness, compassion, and gratitude help us to let go of the negative emotions that trap us and cause our minds to be narrow and constricted. With practice, we can train the mind to be more open, spacious, and free. One of the most important tools in cultivating mental freedom is mindfulness. Breathing, taking a step back, and disengaging from our thoughts and emotions. Simply by letting them be. Imagine a glass of clear water. Your mind is like this, originally pure and bright. Over time negative thoughts and emotions begin to cloud the mind like putting drops of mud into the water. And after some time it gets very cloudy, you can’t see clearly anymore. With mindfulness we step back, breathe and let go, put the glass down. Not human doings but human beings. With time the mud will settle and things will be clear again. You can see the problems in your life and the causes of those problems and after meditation you can take steps to do something about it, having gained insight and clarity into the nature of your mind.
Anchor: Why does the human mind sometimes get hung up on worries and fears?
Guest: The human mind has a negative attentional bias. It is normal and evolutionarily advantageous. When we were hunters and gatherers and a saber tooth tiger was coming after us it was a very good thing to have the stress response or sympathetic nervous system turned on, increase your blood pressure to send blood to your organs so you can run away and save your life. But nowadays there is less likely to be a life-threatening situation coming after you, but rather your fight or flight system is constantly being turned on by Facebook, Instagram, a political post that you don’t agree with. And it sticks in your mind, taking away from your happiness and peace of mind. However, it is completely normal and it is the nature of the mind.
Anchor: What good is mental freedom over the long term?
Guest: Mental freedom and mindfulness will help to improve your mental and physical well-being. Science has proven that meditation lowers your blood pressure and heart rate and helps to decrease stress, anxiety, and ruminations in the mind. It improves insomnia and even helps to prevent relapse from depression, in some studies almost as well as antidepressants. Mindfulness induces the relaxation response and because of this helps our body to heal and be as physically and mentally fit as possible.
Ms. Nimit also sent these links for guided meditations