Freedom is a highly coveted result of our human endeavors. Arguably, we spend most of our lives trying to achieve and maintain our freedom. Even the idea of making a lot of money is generally linked to freedom, since having money gives us more choices. Money itself does not ensure freedom however, real freedom comes from being free of entanglements.

Entanglement is a process by which we willingly compromise our freedom. We experience entanglement when we give others claims on our energy, our time, our attention, our investments, or any other aspect of our self we deem important. If we are not careful, we can spend much of our lives serving our entanglements, and very little of our lives as free and “sovereign” beings.

Most entanglements are actually rooted in contracts or agreements. Entanglements might take the form of verbal agreements, written agreements, or even implied or assumed agreements. For example, when we buy a house and get a mortgage, we are entering into an entanglement from which we can not easily exit.

While some entanglements (eg. a mortgage) are obvious and possibly necessary, other entanglements are not obvious and may not be necessary.

Entanglements can be as simple as an email subscription (wink, wink). We sign up for some free email newsletter, and now those emails start entering our inbox. Each time an email arrives in our inbox, it takes a small bit of our attention. If we open and then read the email, it takes a bit more of our attention. If the information in the email makes us think about something specific through the day, we have now effectively “spent” (or wasted) that cognitive energy.

In today’s age of social media, we might receive all kinds of notifications throughout the day so we become “entangled” in social media.

Busy people have a lot of entanglements. They have their job, their social circles, their community, and their investments. Life, for most people, is about juggling their entanglements. Most people are defined by their entanglements.

But what is life like without entanglements? When we go on vacation, the whole idea is to be free of our entanglements, or at least ignore them for a short time.

Disentanglement is similar to the idea of minimalism, except minimalism is about living with a minimum number of things, while disentanglement is about living with a minimum number of claims on our time. A mortgage is an enormous claim on our time, since it will require time to earn money to make those mortgage payments.

As with minimalism, when we eliminate the need for more “stuff” we can actually feel “freer”, partially because to live with minimal stuff is less expensive and cumbersome. Similarly, with disentanglement, we have freedom of mind, of thought, and of consequence. We can even free ourselves from guilt, obligation, and fear. Of course we can’t eliminate all of our worldly responsibilities, but we can ensure the commitments we do have are worthy of our time.

Meditation is the practice of disentangling our minds from thoughts. Most thoughts are worries about the future or dwelling in the past. But what are our minds for if not to think about the past and future? Our minds are best used for imagination, creation, and joyful observation. A peaceful mind, free of entanglements, helps us enjoy our lives.