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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Have You Tried the Freedom Practice?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 21st 2011


freedomOnce in a while I find a quote that is meaningful and is worthwhile reminding myself of throughout the days of life. The fact is, whether we struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, or trauma we often feel trapped, stuck and hooked into cycles of suffering that we can’t see to get away from.

Poet and novelist William Faulkner said:

"We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."

Breaking free from the deep grooves of our habitual reactions doesn’t happen through affirmations or through just telling ourselves we’re free, it comes through practice.

The reality is we’re always practicing something and reinforcing the neural connections in our brains whether we know it or not. When we give in to the automaticity of catastrophic thinking, eating that bowl of ice cream or making a racist remark, we are reinforcing its automaticity.

So why not practice freedom?

The freedom practice is actually pretty simple, just not always that easy.

  1. Reflect upon certain styles of thinking or behaving that aren’t serving you.

  2. Recognize them in the moment that they’re occurring. Call it out (e.g., overeating, catastrophic thinking, grumpy, etc…).

  3. Recognize how this moment feels in the body. This grounds us to the reality of the moment.

  4. Release the feeling by saying, “Breathing in, I acknowledge the feeling that’s here, breathing out I release it.”

  5. Redirect your attention to something that is healthier and/or more important to pay attention to.

After you read this, you may want to recognize any resistance or judgments arising in your mind in connection with this practice. Ask yourself if those judgments are moving your closer or further from freeing your mind.

Write down or print out this Freedom Practice and give it a chance, see what happens.

Even a moment of breaking free from an old habit that doesn’t serve you is opening the door to hope that things can change.

As always, share your thoughts, questions and stories below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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