The Freedom in Devotion


When you look back at experiences from your childhood, you can glean a pretty clear understanding of what makes up who you are – the way you naturally lean, the undercurrent of desire that pulls you. And also: the opportunities to grow.

On a crusty old home video buried * somewhere * at one of my parent’s places, there’s footage of me as a 3 year old, standing in the loungeroom as my mother tries in vain to dress me in my pajamas. The only problem is I won’t have bar of it – I’m twirling around the loungeroom singing (whining) ‘I’ll do it, I’ll do it!’ until finally mum swings the clothes my way with a sigh and I proceed to try and dress myself.

It’s a funny little scene because it ends with me running around the lounge Beavis and Butthead-style with my PJ top stuck halfway over my head and the arms flailing. What you see very clearly is the burning desire for independence and freedom. I’m 3 but don’t contain me. Please.

That’s just one occurrence.

There were the (many, many) times in my early teens when I’d zoom off into the morning sun on my bike and ride as far away as I could with friends, returning at dusk with a sunburnt glow, weary legs and a stack of crazy adventures tucked in my backpack.

There was the time I went on a trip to the U.S and Ireland at age 14 – by myself. (I met relatives in each city, but there was plenty of transport-customs-connecting-flight navigation in between…. and I loved every second of it.).

As a tried-and-true Sagittarian I have never seen a description of my sign that hasn’t contained the words ‘freedom-loving’ peppered in somewhere. It’s always been a big life theme and I have no doubt, always will be.

But I’ve come to a realisation over the past little while, while exploring and experimenting and figuring out what works best in this entrepreneurial, self-managed life o’ mine, and it’s this:

Discipline, dedication and devotion ARE freedom.  

Yep. A bit of structure is a mighty fine thing, and rather than taking away from those deliciously fulfilling ‘footloose and fancy free’ times, I find it actually paves the way for more of them.

Ever experienced true time expansion?

When commitment leads the way, you can say a big hello to more of that because your schedule becomes one that you actually have control over. I find that when I don’t create any parameters around my work, for example, it’s really easy to get swept up in a spur-of-the-moment YES that might be fun but inevitably leaves me lagging a day behind. When I do allocate my time, however, I find myself in a beautiful state of flow and I finish the day wondering how I fit so much in. That’s the kind of day that has you saying ‘Yep, more of that.’

We have to power to choose the meaning the words we speak – whether positive, negative or neither here nor there – and while the usual definition of ‘discipline’ seems a touch restrictive, let’s layer it with a load of loving intention and choose to see it as something powerful and meaningful.

Let’s declare, that by drawing a perimeter around a dedicated block of time for our craft/ our spiritual practice/ our work/ exercise/ the things that truly bring us alive – and then showing up consistently – we encourage soul growth at a rocked-out rate and the kind of fulfillment that seems just out of reach when there are no guides in place.

I’ve found that the opposite of focused intention is unfocused attention and while I’m still definitely learning, it’s becoming clear to me that when I set down times to write, exercise, create and meditate, the ideas, the form, the energy and life itself rise up to meet me.

What’s your relationship to discipline, dedication and devotion? Like me, do you find having a bit of structure gives you freedom outside of that structure?

Can’t wait to hear from you below!

Image: Sophia Kim

32 Comments to “The Freedom in Devotion”

  1. I needed this one today too!

    I have only this morning set out to have more structure to my day regarding work and study. I was hugely resisting the whole “structure thing” as I felt it would suffocate me a little – but I know it’s what I need, and will end up giving me the freedom for more of the good stuff.

    Thank you honey! xx

  2. Ah I love your website, it’s beautiful along with your words. I spent at least a hour on Saturday delving into your past posts. Amazing.

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. I woke up with the thought that I needed to shuffle something’s around to have blocks of time for my desire to create things, planning my week, working on my business, working in my business, self care etc and this has just reconfirmed it for me.

    I always leave a day free to make up as I please, but generally feel that I need to block my time to be productive.

    Thanks so much for sharing x

  3. Ah Rach – true true true babe!
    I can easily let a whole day bypass me if I don’t sit down in the morning and state what I want to get done today. It’s like I need to let the universe (and myself) know what I want to achieve during the day, and when I do this I usually cross everything off the list without consciously realising. When I fail to do this – a day is gone without actually doing anything.
    Since committing to do this, my days have become so much more fulfilling and productive. Of course you need the odd day to do nothing, but not everyday!
    Love this post.

  4. Such a beautiful post, Rach.

    I’m all for fashioning a loving container for creation. I think creating structure allows us to go even more wild and with our flow, far more so than if we’re just doing it ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ style.

    I also think it’s a clear indicator to our muses, the universe, and inspiration to travel through the ether straight to us. We’re saying, ‘Bring. It.’. We’re in a purposeful posture of receiving, ready to catch the delicious morsels being sent our way.

    C xx

    Freedom is having the ability to choose the things that make you come alive on a daily basis!
    Structuring all those things into your day is a must!
    Thanks for your inspiration Rach!!!!

  6. I have a funny relationship with structure and routine. I absolutely crave it, especially when other aspects of life are spinning wildly out of control, but when I have it in my grasp, I then find I’m a bit over it ;) I think it has a lot to do with the semi enforced routine you end up having when you’ve got a kidlet. I do find though that having the kind of structure we do gives us time to fit in plenty if good stuff.. and when the usual routine goes skewiff, there’s often more time, but less quality of experience (if that makes sense.)

  7. Hey Rach,

    I am a Saggi who is only just learning as to why it is that I crave freedom so much.

    Since working with amazing mentors and also doing A LOT of self acceptance work I am learning so much about myself and the biggest thing that has been coming up for me (especially lately) is my resistance to structure.

    I love how you mentioned above ‘Discipline, dedication and devotion ARE freedom.’ I can and WILL use this new belief. It JUMPED out of the screen at me… thank you

    Thank you for this post and your example of you as a child was just adorable! xxx

  8. So well said rachel, and such optimal timing as I struggled this morning to sit down and work through what I had planned. Why such resistance to something I value so highly!?

  9. This post really speaks to me as I LOVE freedom and following my intuition all the time. I know that this doesn’t necessarily work very well when I have work to do and get to set my own deadlines. Structure is definitely needed and I am still learning to find a good balance with enough structure to get me moving but not too much so I feel like running away. This is MY business after all ; ).

    Great inspiration! Big hugs, Karina

  10. Tanya: Thank you so much lovely! I think a blend of ‘devoted time’ mixed in with plenty of white space to be flexible/ make room for spontaneity is a winning combo. Love that you’ve got that free day in there :) x

  11. Nic: Intention is everything. I mentioned ‘the blend’ above – I reckon that’s where the magic – and the true sense of fulfillment – lies! x

  12. Carly: “A loving container for creation” – how beautiful. And I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for your addition here gorgeous xx

  13. Naomi: Makes total sense – and is a perfect addition to the post, thank you lovely! We all want more undistracted, meaningful time (to do whatever takes our fancy) and I think a little bit of structure can really open up the space for that.

    Personally, I find if I don’t go into SOME of my days with a bit of a plan, I can quite easily fritter the hours away but never really let myself be immersed completely, as I’m thinking of the ‘other stuff.’ xx

  14. Ash: Hello my Saggi sista! Oh god, it’s a deep yearning, isn’t it?!
    Let me know how you go with that new mantra lighting the way… and thank you for being here. xo

  15. Sharon: And there’s the answer ;) What we fear/ resist doing most is usually what we most need to do. xx

  16. Karina: It’s definitely a fine line and I would say, a moving target. Reframing the ‘sitting down and getting it done’ has really helped me embrace a more structured approach (with lots of free, unplanned time in between). xx

  17. Too funny – I currently have a blog post scheduled for next week, about the word ‘discipline’ and how it is often called a dirty word.

    Not as beautifully crafted as yours but in a similar vein.

  18. I appreciate your distinction between focused intention and unfocused attention! I find that when I have structure + intention, I have a clear end goal and better finished work. When I’m working from a place of unfocused attention, I don’t feel like I’m completing anything in a satisfactory manner, but I also don’t feel like I’m relaxing and having free-spirited fun either.

  19. I love this idea. It seems so simple that you would set aside time for the things that are important to you and then do them. But somehow something else always arises. I never really realize how right and essential it is to honor my time. Until I’ve missed it…

  20. Iris: Thank you for sharing, I wholeheartedly agree with you. To rituals and falling in love with your practices! x

  21. kirri: Look forward to reading it lovely – I know it will be gorgeous x

  22. So true. I’m a teacher, and on holidays at the moment, and was saying this exact thing to a friend yesterday.
    During the term I wake up to my alarm, and go for a walk by the beach and do some yoga, eat breakfast at the same time, I eat fruit for morning tea and drink a smoothie in the afternoon. In the holidays my routines fall away-I’m still (usually) doing things to nourish my mind and body-I stay in bed to read etc, but find that unless I put in place routines (yesterday I sat at my desk and did school work from 8 in the morning-like a school day) things don’t get done.

  23. Great post! My Piscean self definitely resists structure, but I really need it in some form to get stuff done. I find that dumping all my thoughts out on a page and rearranging them into areas or categories helps me get clarity and start moving on things!

    Good on you for the early teen overseas travel! That’s huge! I thought going on my own at 20 was a big deal ;)

  24. As in…I have learnt this too. I definitely don’t honour it all the time but slowly and surely I am doing it more and more and gosh I love the flow! Amen to the flow.

  25. Ness: Enjoy those holidays lovely – with just a teensy bit of structured time (sounds like you’ve got plenty when you’re in work mode). x

    Katherine: Clarity first is crucial. What I’m learning is what us freedom-seekers are actually looking for is FULL freedom, as opposed to freedom with a side of guilt (around what we should be doing). That feels like the opposite of freedom to me, because not only do I not get the fulfillment, but I’m not completely present.

    And ha, thank you! Looking back it was pretty great of my parents – and in fact, it was my Dad’s idea. Winner. x

    Lori Jai: A-freaking-MEN! x

  26. Yes! This is so true – I always feel like freedom initiates responsibility…often times when I am “too free” and without some type of discipline or structure, I just float around aimlessly – whereas when I have a focus, I am much more available for the flow of creativity to come through the vessel (structure) that is me! Thank you for this Rach!

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