Sarah Shannon Yoga



Finding Freedom


Little adventures around Ireland


Ever since reading the book ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed I have had a hankering to really go off-piste when I travel. Get my feet dirty. A wild and feral adventure. In the book, Cheryl hikes the Pacific Coast Trail over 1,100 miles alone and in dangerous conditions. She faces extreme weather and wild animals. She learns survival in the wilderness, confronts her internal struggles and overcomes them. It is one woman’s story of self-discovery and survival.  

I headed off to Navan last week to a shamanism retreat. Buoyed by my shamanic connection to nature, I decided to stay in the midlands for a few days and go camping alone in the Boyne Valley. And while it wasn’t the Pacific Coast Trail, instead it was a 4 kilometer hike up Loughcrew. And there were no dangerous wild animals, besides the French children playing in the tent near me. It was a beautiful time. A time I felt completely free and in nature.

When I go off on a spontaneous adventure like this, it brings back all the feelings of my adventures over the last three years. They have been some of the best times of my life. I have come to realise that I need these adventures every few months. To check back in with myself. To fall deeper in love with life.  To see new places. Meet fantastic people. And most importantly to feel free.

We all want to feel free. And we are, we just forget how free we are sometimes. It is a feeling I relish. If someone asked me what kind of life you want to live? My answer would be a life of freedom.

Once I tap into this feeling I feel filled up. It is a feeling that is all mine, that no-one can take away from me unless I let them. It is always there and when I feel free I am completely myself.

Freedom means different things to different people. It might mean taking the afternoon off work and heading into town to aimlessly wander. It might be a holiday. A swim in the sea. Rock climbing. Running. A weekend at a festival. A yoga class. Freedom is a personal feeling that we have all felt at some stage in our lives. We have just been guilted by the mind into thinking that it is a bit self-indulgent to embrace our freedom all of the time.

Freedom is something we need to actively engage with. I left a career in law in search of freedom. Freedom to do something I love and be master of my own life. Yet still there are times I feel trapped or unfree.

My corporate trained mind can overtake sometimes saying you need to do this, achieve that, contact this person, go to that place, do more training. I start to plan too much, make too many promises and then I’m rushing everywhere. My mind tries to take control and interfere with my freedom. It says, you don’t have time for a swim in the sea on a Tuesday morning. You should be working.

This is when I need an adventure. In this way freedom, I have come to realise, is a defiant act. It’s a bit of a feck this, I’m free to do whatever I want, when I want. My freedom is heading off travelling alone with no plan except to travel.

The first time I did this was three years ago when I booked a one way flight to Indonesia with no plan, agenda or return flight home. I spent nine months moving to the beat of my own drum, doing what I wanted, and I felt blissfully free. Since then I have been hooked on the feeling.

I tap into the feeling with shorter trips now. And not as far flung. And this is how I am spending the rest of the Summer. I am picking places in Ireland. Hopping in the car and just seeing where the adventure takes me. Last week was camping in the Boyne Valley. This week I am in the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Next week, not yet decided.

I love the unknown, the uncertainty of the trips. I love the experiences I have and the people I get to know. I love my small red backpack that only takes me twenty minutes to pack. I love that I bring the same thing each time. And that I need very little. No hair dryer or make up. I love all the gear I have accumulated. Travel towels, a mini torch, all-purpose soap. My pop up tent. A lightweight micro fleece. All such clever, convenient items.  I love that I don’t have to lug too much around with me. This all heightens my sense of freedom. Free from material items for a few days.  

My hiking boots. My kindle. My journal to write. There is never a dull moment when I have these things with me.  On the Beara where I’m staying, there is a Tibetan Buddhist Centre with daily meditation gatherings. There are the pubs in Allihies. The sea. Sorted for the next few days.   

Freedom is good. We all have freedom. We just need to remember to tap into it as much as we can.

And when we feel free, embrace those moments. Jump up and down in your lightweight fleece or whatever freedom feels like to you. Because that is when we feel alive.