Freedom is the space between every judgmental or righteous thought

“It is the stillness within that will save and change the world.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Life is hard. At times impenetrable. How can we use our spirituality to navigate the density of life?

This question inspired this article. And my navigation tool is almost effortless; I feel compelled to share it.

When my mind is agitated and burning with thoughts and fears and worries, I go to a quiet place and become still and watch my mind. I wait for the tiny gap between each thought. Bingo.

This space, this small gap, is freedom in its truest, purest form. It is the birthplace of peace. And every time I walk into this room, I’m at war with nothing. Despite all the madness that surrounds me, this place always remains untouched. It’s like an infinite reservoir of power and love – one that feels like freedom.

How I came to find this reservoir is a long and nuanced story (that’s why I wrote a whole book about it), but I’ll try to give you the short version.

To even find it, I first had to get to the point where I was so disillusioned – with my cancer, with the people, with the system, with greed, with the chores, with the destruction of the planet, with the war, and with life point.

I didn’t know it then, but this disillusionment was the gateway to freedom.

For so long I have looked to the “other” as the source of my disappointment.

Sometimes “the other” was a person, sometimes a situation – my cancer, the pandemic, the person I believed had wronged me, the political party; anything or anyone that disturbed my happiness fell into that bucket.

Of course, it felt good to blame cancer, that person, or the pandemic for my ailments, at least superficially. But the blame game was also at the root of my suffering. The biggest wars I’ve had in my own life have been trying to get “the others” to give in/change/admit they did something wrong so I could live in peace.

But the real source of my disillusionment was never with them. As I stopped waiting for the situation to change and turned my attention to my sanity, I noticed something that struck me at first: my own righteousness.

Staring back in the mirror, my tendencies were to be correct, to envy, to judge, to complain, and to win. This mirror revealed a simple truth: I contributed to the war I desperately wanted to end. I had gotten to a point where I was just fed up – not fed up with life anymore, but fed up with the suffering my own mind was causing.

Life’s challenges and obstacles may have brought you to a similar point – the point where you’ve had enough. Before freedom is even possible, this phase is necessary, even essential.

The world is unsatisfactory. So what now? This is the front door of freedom. It is the opening to the core of your being. When we get tired of looking outside for contentment, we only look inside. This is where the rubber meets the road.

But we must go deeper – beyond the mind, beyond our thoughts of what is right vs wrong, left vs right – to our essential oneness.

And I think as a collective we get there by asking ourselves a simple question: Do I want peace or war?

If it is peace, we must begin with peace in our mind. In all the frenzy, it’s possible to just stop and step into the space between each thought. Linger there for a few anxious moments. Feel how lightness floods every cell of our being. Keep coming back to it. Life doesn’t have to be different to enter this space.

This space is freedom. And true freedom is not tied to any person or situation. Freedom is what sits beneath war. It is found in the tiny gap between every righteous and non-righteous thought; it happens through silence.

From that silence I learned (yes, the hard way) that we can speak our truth, but now we speak it without having to control any outcome.

For example, instead of trying to force my husband to read a spiritual book instead of opting for Netflix – as if I know what’s right and best for him – I can respect him for where he is on his inner journey stands. I still act. I still recommend books. But my happiness does not depend on his choice.

Instead of being angry at a friend who hurt me, I can step out of my righteousness and have empathy for where she is in her life. I’m still reaching out. I’m still trying resolution. But my peace does not depend on her answer.

I cast my seeds of truth, dug from the bottom of my heart, out into my family and the world. Sometimes they end up on the fertile soil of the “other”, sometimes not. So be it. It is action without criticism, judgment, blame or control – without the war. I had found a place within myself where I could look at “the other” and feel compassion and even love instead of anger and resentment.

Eckhart Tolle says: “It is the inner stillness that will save and change the world.”

I couldn’t agree more. Because from there, from the stillness inside, the war will not escalate but be averted.

So, for anyone who’s feeling disillusioned, I want to honor you and say one thing: the freedom your soul craves is within reach. It’s as close as your breath, as close as the space between your every thought.

Freedom is the space between every judgmental or righteous thought

About Lara Charles

Lara Charles is an Australian writer and mother living in New Zealand with her husband and four children. Lara writes at the intersection of spirituality, motherhood and modern life. Her work has been published in national and international media. Her first book, a treatise on longing to know if there is more to life and the process of awakening in the midst of everyday life, will be ready for publication in 2022. Read her reflections at laracharles.com.

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