A Practice In Freedom: How I Set Myself Free.

Everywhere I look, I see the shackles of slavery… bound by the past and present, knotted by the subtle elements of our universe and our mundane daily existence, restricted in our individual experience and collective potential.

Whether we enslave ourselves or we are victims of slavery, the whole of humanity seems bound in one way or another. This view has arisen from the events of the last year which have stripped me of the comfort of, well, comfort!

Let’s start further back — maybe 10 years ago — when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which I am told was triggered by various challenging life experiences.

These included, among other things, having my power and body taken through dominant phallic forces and being a slave to unconscious inducing substances, bound by self-loathing and suffering.

The definition I was given of this diagnosis was that people with BPD are fringe dwellers on the spectrum of sanity. We have not dropped off into the abyss of crazy, yet we are far from the epicenter of normal.

We live right on the edge, between all worlds, but in none.

As a result, over the years I have wrestled with this border, boundary and defining limit which has contained, restricted and enslaved my personality. These days I dance freely over the edges of definition and enjoy the vast range of my human expressions.

Then I consciously explored the concept of bondage and slavery, living outside the boundary of normal, unconfined by social entrapment.

So, quite literally, I became a Mistress, albeit one with a weak stomach for brutality, abuse and humiliation along with a gentle heart which ached at the suffering perceived behind my clients’ desires.

As a result, I creatively mastered the art of dominating others, where I forced those that demanded pain to feel softness, and those that had power were relieved of the burden.

I enjoyed exploring the spectrum and drivers behind desires and found a rise in awareness and sometimes even transformation within my boys.

And most recently, I have just left an ashram in India, where I lived for eight months — literally behind a solid, high and ever present boundary wall, a place bound by the rules, discipline and structure of ancient traditions.

A self-imposed physical bondage, where I became aware of my inner enslavement due to my yearning for transformation, understanding and ultimate liberation.

In seeking freedom, the dominator became the submissive, and while at times there was rebellion, overwhelmingly, I found peace in allowing a wiser force to take a hold of my body, emotions, mind and beyond.

An abundantly benevolent, divine and gracious quality arose from within, which indeed has liberated my shackles of identity, loosened my attachment to others and the slavish bonds of my many desires.

As a result, overwhelming gratitude is flooding the vast inner spaces which were once tightly bound and compressed by oppression.

Now I am but a willing servant of this liberator, this lover of humanity that saved a wretch like me.

Freedom doesn’t seem to fit comfortably, easily or naturally on my frame just yet, as I have been bound for so long in one form of slavery or another. I have to learn to live in freedom, with undefined everything, everywhere, asking myself now daily, “What am I to do with this freedom?”

Just before I left the ashram, I received a subtle message which was as loud as thunder and continues to ring in my ears, “Don’t ever get too comfortable — when there is no challenge, create it”, as I saw simultaneous visions of the cost one pays for too much comfort: slavery.

So let’s take up a practice in freedom — see if you can free yourself by asking the following:

Where am I enslaved? 

How am I bound?

Who is dominating me from within?


What comforts can I regulate? 

And if you are free, do you ask — What am I doing with my freedom?

Me? Well, I now just want to free others!

Let’s all take to the practice of freedom.


NicoletteBellNicolette Bell (AtmaNidhi) is a raving punk, a loving rebel, an innovative teacher, a Yoga whore and a wild contradictory mess of goodness. She adores her humanness and soaking up all that life has to offer in the hope that she may get nearer to the grace and source of it all. She writes a weekly blog, teaches her ‘Sadhana Series’ around Sydney, Australia, and is working on her life’s passion project of bringing the light of Yoga into the shadows of our society. She is passionate about raising funds and awareness for issues around the Sex Trafficking of Children and started a Practice in Freedom fundraiser which is supported by the 1 Billion Rising project, and involves collectively chanting the Tara Mantra 1 Million times in 3 months. Working with the subtle and not so subtle!


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