An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #4/4

This is the last part, part four, of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

So, how can one recognise Spiritual Freedom?

As a wise friend shared, Spirit is the oxygen of the soul. For the logical mind, Spiritual Freedom can seem challengingly elusive because it is intangible. Some say spiritual freedom is an experience. And, as frustrating as this may be, unless you’ve had the experience…well, it stays intangible.

Instead of calling it an experience, I would offer that Spiritual Freedom is more of a state. The beauty of it is that there is no fixed formula. You decide what it means to you, what makes it true for you.

As I mentioned earlier, in my view (which is only one model of many), the antithesis to Spiritual Freedom is Fear. Fear of living, fear of being oneself, fear of standing up for and to oneself, and fear of not believing in oneself, to name a few. When it dawned on me that my life lacked Spiritual Freedom, I felt confused. A part of me felt guilty because, really, what did I have to complain about?! I was a free spirit. My life was pretty awesome and comfortable.

To me, Spiritual Freedom is having the freedom to choose, to be who I am, to take responsibility for who I am, to be curious, to operate beyond the constricting boundaries of expectations:

  • It is what fires me up, what makes me want to take action, to change, to grow, to evolve.
  • It is my main motivation in everything I do, who I am, and also why I do what I do.
  • It is connected to instinct and deeper wisdom, inspiration, awareness, and autonomy.
  • It expands my perspective, it keeps me on my toes as it brings self-discovery and evolution into focus.
  • It provides me with the framework to having the courage to lean beyond my comfort zone.
  • It makes me feel freer, agile, alive, inspired, and energised.
  • It helps me fine tune my focus and have trust in turning inward.

Spiritual Freedom involves integrating spiritual practices in everyday life and not being held back by circumstances. It involves being aware of the systems I operate within, deciding who I want to be and how I want to show up.

During my ongoing self-discovery expedition, the following questions have provided direction:

  1. Am I owning my story?
  2. Am I living my values?
  3. Am I showing up fully?

Spiritual Freedom is about listening to our soul’s calling, giving our inner wisdom its opportunity to shine. Feeling contentment, fulfilment, and inner satisfaction. Being confident in who we are and what we have to offer, knowing that we are enough, knowing that our spirit is awake to express itself fully.

To no longer be defined or confined by story is also part of Spiritual Freedom. It’s about being free to own whatever is within you – that which follows you through life, and beyond – your inner core, your joy and freedom.

The three questions about owning my story, living my values, and showing up fully, have been a steady companion for some time. At times I have wondered if they are clear enough, and how and if they connect to Spiritual Freedom. One wise friend recently said, “They do for me. Upon answering these questions with ‘no– no– no’, it tells me why I’m not there yet”.

If your answers to the above questions are “no” – remember, it’s not about blame. It’s about acceptance, recognition, forgiveness, and appreciation. The beauty is, as there is no fixed formula, we all have access to those, and to the freedom they lead to.

My question to you is…is Spiritual Freedom present in your life? If yes, what does it look like? And if not, would you like it to be?

An Open Letter to those in Search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #3

This is part three of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

As I’ve pondered Spiritual Freedom further, I’m nudged to see that it is Timeless, Visceral, and Experiential…all at once.

Being “spiritual” usually comes with a host of connotations. For some it is the equivalent of being religious; for others, it is believing in energy healing, tarot cards, angels, fairies, and other elementals. For some, it involves being reflective, practicing forgiveness, compassion, and non-judgment. No matter which meaning you give it, our society, for the most part, doesn’t consider being spiritual as valuable as the rational mind.

For the mind, “spirituality” is this weird, challenging, and intangible thing. Some would say it is an experience, others that it’s a way of being. And more often than not, it is ridiculed or dismissed because the mind doesn’t know what to do with it, doesn’t know how to understand it.

Religion and spirituality weren’t discussed much around the dinner table when I was growing up. Looking back, I don’t quite know where my beliefs have come from. I felt an affinity for astrology early on, and I was secretly fascinated by the spirit world (to the point of being afraid of the same).

I first came across spirituality, by that name, in my early 20’s. I had recently landed my first job in accounting at a global high-tech electronics company. As I got to know the others in the office, there was one lady who stood out to me as very “colourful”. She was into theatre, dance, and – lo and behold – energy healing (whatever that was!). She was a bit “loud”, and according to my frame of the world at the time, she didn’t seem to “fit in”. I remember vividly, she wore a lot of purple plush and had wacky necklaces. She was good at her job, but I did not take her seriously. Today, I’m smiling at my youthful ignorance and immaturity.

What does the internet say about the word “spirituality”? Here’s a sampling:

From the Oxford dictionary:

(1) Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

– Having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion.

– (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.

(2) Relating to religion or religious belief.

From Wikipedia:

Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”

Upon reading these, I think that one way to give further dimension to “spirituality” and “being spiritual” could be to say that someone “spiritual” is more interested in the WHO than the WHAT. For example, I’m more interested in “WHO I am” than “WHAT I am”, which harkens back to one of my musings in Part #1 – that external labels is not who we are.

In Part #4, the last part of this series, I’ll be summing up my musings around Spiritual Freedom. I hope to meet you there.

An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #2

This is part two of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my burgeoning coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

If you have not read Part #1 you can do that here.

Back in 2005, instinct and deeper inspiration led me to move back to the UK, this time to Hertfordshire. For some time, my life had felt uninspiring, unfulfilling, on autopilot, and stuck in story. I kept asking myself the question, “Surely, this can’t be all there is…?”

New in a town where I knew nobody, I had the space to ponder things. I reflected on my experiences over the past year and a half, especially how—once I decided to leave Sweden and return to the UK—everything came together easily. Even though a move between countries was in the mix!

As I looked into my motivation for moving back to the UK, I made some interesting discoveries. I had always considered myself a free spirit, yet it dawned on me that I didn’t have spiritual freedom. At the time, I didn’t have the language or awareness to understand it in this way; the best description I could come up with was that I felt boxed in, unfulfilled, bored, and uninspired.

Now, I am a work in progress like everyone else. I have spent the past 13 years in a conscious self-discovery mode. At first, I approached the move to the UK as adding new aspects to my life; new learning, new friends, a new location, and my focus was on expanding my perspective—to lean beyond what I was used to.

The expanded perspective was great. I felt a lot freer, agile, alive, inspired, and energised. However, soon enough I felt nudged to fine-tune and be more deliberate in my focus—to turn inward. I recognised that changing only my external circumstances would never be enough— it wouldn’t fix “it”. I also needed to look at how I experienced the world, how I expressed myself in the world, and how I ultimately could create and live with more awareness.

In my experience, the antithesis to Spiritual Freedom is fear of living, fear of being oneself, fear of standing up for—and to—oneself, and fear of not believing in oneself. Ingredients that there are a lot of in this day and age.

Imagine feeling like there is not just one “right” way and you don’t have to comply with any dogma and doctrine. Imagine being genuinely open to possibility, and feeling free from judgment, mockery, and criticism—yours as well as others’.

People may feel fairly comfortable exploring spirituality in their personal lives. But we have a way to go when it comes to mixing our personal practice with our work life. Imagine having a safe place to explore the myths or beliefs that you hold about spirituality, that in turn hold you back. Myths that stop you owning your Spiritual Freedom fully, without shame, without fear of rejection, or criticism.

Imagine experiencing contentment, fulfilment, and inner satisfaction both at work and at home. Being confident in who you are and what you bring into being, regardless of your setting. Imagine knowing you are enough. This is true freedom, and has become my life work: Helping clients discover the Spiritual Freedom of being awake, aware, and fully expressed. And then, most importantly, helping them learn how to live that.

I’ll continue my journey into how to understand Spiritual Freedom in Part #3. I look forward to meeting you there.

An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom Part #1

This is part one of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my burgeoning coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

Ever since I embarked on the journey of stepping out there and doing what truly brings me joy, I have been battling with the formulaic suggestions of the standard marketing principles for identifying my divine audience. The principles make sense. And yet, they don’t.

Whenever I’m asked the question, “So, Maria, who do you work with, who’s your target audience?”, I feel the fire in me starting to dwindle as I verbalise some of the attributes and circumstances that I’ve come up with – “Ooh, she is between 35-55, she lives in a city, she is either in a corporate middle-management position or runs her own business, she doesn’t have children of her own, she feels bored, unfulfilled, and wonders if this is all there is.” Now, don’t get me wrong, this way to describe an audience works well – and – what I notice, is a feeling of the world having shrunk. The external labels are not who we are. Talking about my divine client this way I no longer feel fired up – far from it. Any excitement I had is gone and the whole thing lands like a dead fish by my feet.

I consider myself a free spirit. I live an uncomplicated life; I am liked, respected, and successful in my work; I can come and go as I please… And, as I have learned more about who I am, I have become aware of how important Freedom is to me. Freedom to choose, freedom to be who I am, freedom to take responsibility for who I am, freedom to be curious, freedom to operate beyond the constricting boundaries of expectations – both mine and others’.

So, I’ve been pondering what fundamental aspect of freedom motivates my work. Meaning, what fires me up, what makes me want to take action, to change, to grow, to evolve? The answer that leaps to mind is simply, “Spiritual Freedom”. For myself, my friends, my clients.

Now, I could dive into a story of how this fundamental desire for freedom can be a “limitation” or “problem” in our structured world, but I won’t. I’d rather focus on describing what Freedom means to me, and more precisely Spiritual Freedom – what it isn’t, and how one can recognise it. Continue reading An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom Part #1

Does the idea of being a Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leader stir something in you, but you’re not quite sure what?

Let’s face it…

…Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leadership isn’t something we usually think about when we wake up in the morning. And, if we were being asked to describe it – we wouldn’t necessarily know how to, or what it might look like.

That said, when mentioned…you may feel something stir in you, which, in turn, hopefully awakens your curiosity. ​​If this is the case – read on!

My entire professional career – now spanning 30+ years – ​​I’ve been engaged in the corporate world. In the early 2000’s, I had arrived at a point where work and life no longer felt as fulfilling as it used to. It didn’t feel quite right. My work has always been very important to me and although a part of me still enjoyed it, I felt bored and disconnected from my own life, disempowered, and no longer vibrant and alive. I remember thinking, “Surely, this couldn’t be all there was…?”.

My brain tried to figure it out – where did the feeling come from? Why did I have it? It made no sense.

As a result, I felt ungrateful as I lived an uncomplicated life. I felt guilty as I had had the fortune of living and working in three different countries. I was valued, respected, and appreciated at work and in life. I had an active social life. ​I was a free spirit, I could come and go as I pleased. Come on, what was there not to like?!?

I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Something kept persisting. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss, that there was a part of ME missing somehow, that I didn’t show up fully, that I was stuck in story. It dawned on me that I had seemingly got most boxes ticked and I was a free spirit, but I didn’t have spiritual freedom… Continue reading Does the idea of being a Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leader stir something in you, but you’re not quite sure what?

Identifying Our Soul’s Values – How Do We Actually Do It? (part 2)

4 Steps to defining and connecting with your Soul’s Values

© 2016 Anna Maria Bäck & Sourcing The Way

A quick re-cap from part 1 of this blogpost:

We’re all leaders, regardless of position, life style, or creed. For me, leadership is closely linked to my values and to questions like “Am I the best I can be? Am I taking responsibility for my actions and reactions?”

It’s difficult to answer such questions without knowing what our values or guiding principles are. For the most part, we seem to use values to distinguish between “us” and “them”, or what is considered “good” or “bad”. We’re also used to talking about “moral values” and “ethical values”, but how often are we encouraged to explore our soul’s values?

The cool thing about our soul’s values is that they connect us to something deeper, something bigger than ourselves, and they help us align with actions and expressions that bring meaning and fulfilment to our lives.

Sticking to your Soul’s Values promotes and supports your personal and professional growth. It increases your experience of clarity and sense of freedom and possibility in your work and life.

As a result you will:

  • Feel empowered to up-level your service and contribution in the world, leading you to new beginnings and empowered self-leadership.
  • Experience peace of mind, while being aware that we create our own realities with our thoughts, beliefs and actions.
  • Manifest inner balance and harmony.
  • Build confidence in your innate worth and abilities.
So, what are the steps – how do we actually do it?

Continue reading Identifying Our Soul’s Values – How Do We Actually Do It? (part 2)

Being of Service to Your Soul’s Values – A Tool for Inner Transformation (part 1)

 

Living Your Soul’s Values – A Novel Concept?
    – How to define, connect with, and live one’s values

© 2016 Anna Maria Bäck & Sourcing The Way

 

Leadership is a verb, not a job.

Chris Clark

 

We’re all leaders, regardless of position, life style, or creed. Thinking that we don’t matter, or that our actions or reactions don’t matter, is not only irresponsible, but also a testament to a deep feeling of separation. For me, leadership is closely linked to my values and to questions like “Am I the best I can be? Am I taking responsibility for my actions and reactions?”

It’s difficult to answer such questions without knowing what our values or guiding principles are. We usually enter the conversation about values through one of two doorways. For the most part, we seem to use values to distinguish between “us” and “them”, or what is considered “good” or “bad”. We’re also used to talking about “moral values” and “ethical values”. Both approaches speak to human behavior, but there’s a third doorway – to knowingly embody and consciously live our values. In other words, to ask “Am I “being” my values? Am I being true to them for myself?”

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

John Wooden

To ground and integrate the values we aim to live by, the natural first step is to identify and define our soul’s values — our foundation. But identifying and defining values isn’t enough. For me, it has been equally crucial to connect with my soul’s values – by bringing them into my body and mind, and stay connected to them in my everyday life.

It’s easy to get lost in abstract thinking when talking about values. For a more practical approach I like Jaemin Frazer’s descriptions of the “Be-Do-Have” model and three common approaches to trying to get ahead in life, “The Victim”, “The Worker”, and “The Winner”, excerpted here:

Continue reading Being of Service to Your Soul’s Values – A Tool for Inner Transformation (part 1)