Freedom to be

Written by Russ Benning

Dear Reader, what comes up for you when you hear the word ‘Freedom’?

How important is it to you?

Which arenas of your life does it touch?

I want to challenge you to go deeper. A deeper level that is truly infinite.

Let’s zoom out for a minute and explore what it means for you to be you. Are you aware that the probability of you being born as a human being at all is 400 trillion to one? 400 TRILLION TO ONE! You are an absolute miracle in any and every sense of the word. It seems intrinsically impossible to me, that you, as a life form, let alone a human life, are not incredibly special and therefore incredibly important. INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT! How could such a magnificent, individual, miracle of a being, not deserve to thrive? Not deserve the freedom to design their own life and experience what it means to be human in their own unique way?

Whatever your beliefs, I challenge you to tell me that you haven’t felt a connection to something greater than yourself. Something you can’t comprehensively describe in lay-terms, but you can feel in the core of your ‘self’ as absolutely TRUE.

I believe that deep within us all we know what is true and what It is to be ‘free’.

A couple of months ago I was invited by a friend to experience a ‘breath work’ session for the first time. I’d heard of the practice before but never tried it myself. For those who don’t know, a ‘breath work’ session is where a facilitator will guide you through certain patterns of breathing within a safe and comfortable environment. It sounds very basic, and in a lot of ways it is, however the anchoring into the deliberate breath can bring about some incredible results.

My experience was beyond anything I can explain in a sub paragraph of an article. Let’s just say it was very powerful and allowed me to access parts of me that felt very true, beyond my thinking mind.

The man responsible for my experience is a man I really admire and a man who truly embodies freedom. His name is Brendan Holland and he is this month’s featured guest.

We had such an interesting and powerful conversation for this article. I learned a lot about not just Brendan himself, but about what it means to truly embody freedom.

l listened with curiosity as he told me his story. Born and raised in Newcastle, NSW to a single mother, he shared that from the age of five, they travelled abroad every year of his life.

“I’ve never been a square peg in a square hole. I’m digging my own hole,” Brendan said.

It’s clear that he never aligned with the western way of doing things. Regarding schooling he knew it wasn’t the place for him.

“Do this, do that, now you can eat your lunch, now you can go to the toilet you know?”

Brendan tells me he always had an inkling there was something more.

“There is another layer to reality.”

He left school early and took jobs here and there while he worked out what was next for him. It wasn’t long before the travel bug bit, and he was again overseas, this time on a more indefinite basis.

It started as a working holiday in the USA where he worked in a summer camp program for young boys (5-6 years old), where leading up to the event the facilitators all met online. When he finally met in person one of the others he had been speaking to, a young woman from the UK, he dropped a self-professed “cheesy line” on her at a dive bar around the pool table and that was it. He laughed about how bad the line was but also that it worked! They worked and travelled together for a while and fast forward to today, are happily married with three beautiful kids.

When they decided to move back to Australia to live, Brendan chose a very different career and became a part of the Australian Federal Police. He joined because wanted to serve and protect his community, unfortunately the job was not what he expected.

“It was the worst six years of my life. It wasn’t what I thought it would be,” he said.

Brendan went on to share that the job produced a version of himself that he didn’t like.

“I was angry, overweight and tired. Yeah, I was very toxic. I hated the world, hated myself.”

I found this so hard to believe based on the version of him that I met this year.

The only reason he stayed was that the money was quite good and it allowed them to live a ‘good life’.

“What I mean by a good life is a keeping up with the Joneses life. We had the big house, fast cars, the boat, all that, but we weren’t happy. I certainly wasn’t happy,” he said.

After the AFP job, Brendan and his wife started a cleaning business that they built from the ground up and are now in a position to sustain their liberated lifestyle.

For the last two years they have lived a very nomadic life, their caravan being their new home base. Originally planning to visit Hervey Bay for four days, they ended up staying for four months and solidified the area as a second main hub.

We circled back to the topic of freedom. A topic that we both shared as our number one value. Beautifully put, Brendan shared the following on the topic.

“If you put freedom at the top, everything else falls into place,” he said.

Going back and forth on the power of freedom, we landed on a simple mantra and he tells me.
“Freedom equals power, personal power.”

He explained that each time we get sucked into a screen or even take offence to someone else’s words we are outsourcing our power. We can’t control what happens externally, but we can control how we react to it.

Freedom to be, was the distillation that we continued to return to during several threads of discussions. When I pressed further on what this meant to him, he explained that we are here to experience life. To find out who and what we are; and that we can’t do that while we’re constantly outsourcing our attention, and therefore outsourcing our power and our freedom.

He highlighted the importance of exploration, which I realise was a beautiful double entendre. While he initially referred to exploring in a physical sense, he then went on to describe how exploring locations also allows us to explore ourselves internally. As a species, human beings have become what we are today through curiosity and exploration. Arguably opposable thumbs too, but that’s a discussion for another time!

In my opinion, Brendan Holland, the man of the hour, embodies what true freedom is to the human race, and I love the way he describes why breath work is his calling.

“I want to play my part in the collective healing of humanity,” he said.

When I asked if he had any final thoughts he replied, “Just breathe haha. Breathe it in and let it go.”

So I’ll ask you again; what does freedom mean to you?

Connection with Brendan IG – the_healing_breath