What Makes You Free? What Makes You Not-Free?

Working with a partner, take a moment to reflect on the nature of freedom & lack of freedom.
Show your partner his or her reflection in a mirror.
Ask your partner, "What makes you free?"
Ask your partner, "What makes you not-free?"

[Now switch roles - you're answering, and your partner is asking.]

Show your partner a reflection of the boundless sky in the same mirror.
Same mirror, same truth.
Ask your partner, "What makes you free?"
Ask your partner, "What makes you not-free?"

[Now switch roles - you're answering, and your partner is asking.]

Finally, based on what you've each heard, make up blessing prayers for one another & take turns tying freedom strings around each other's wrists. Your freedom string is a reminder that you & all human beings are capable of choosing to incline towards freedom, or away from it, for themselves, and for others.

***

May all beings be free of suffering.
May all beings know happiness and the roots of happiness.
May all beings live at ease in the well being of their own true nature.

***

[Update: 5/20/14]
What makes you free? A big part of the answer to that question, in this fragmented in-the-box world, is GOING OUTSIDE and talking with people you don't know. We set up an encampment on a tiny bit of grass on the main drag in Northampton, MA and started asking people if they wanted to talk about freedom. Sure! Then everything opens up. What makes you free? Having a mental illness. Not being afraid of prison. What makes you not-free? Having a mental illness. Having been to prison.

As it started to get dark & cold, a group of men wearing white clothes and leather shinguards with bells appeared. Things got more and more interesting: an accordion, big sticks, and dancing, leaping, smacking. Morris Dancers, apparently, and joyful ones at that. We were invited to dance, and of course we danced.

What makes you free? Being willing to look in the mirror. Saying yes when friendly giants offer you a dance in the middle of town. Yes.

 

[September 14, 2013]
On Marissa Alexander's birthday, Zsuszsa Mitro and Julie Püttgen set up an encampment on the Green in Hanover NH. It was a day when lots of protests were happening, to ask that she be freed from prison. We decided to offer a meditation on freedom instead. We photographed participants' hands, and sent the photos to Marissa in jail. I [Julie] had been writing to her anyway, and something she said in a letter - about being more free than some people on the "outside" inspired me.

***

[below] participants' hands with "freedom strings," tied on with the blessing, "always remember that you were born, and so you are free. remember that your freedom is a gift to yourself as to others."

[that last one's actually of Zsuzsa liberating a salamander. no string was involved, though the salamander knows that it is free.]