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The Path of Liberation From Fear, Anxiety & Bad Relationships

Already Free by Bruce Tift: Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation

Already Free by Bruce Tift

Read my full book notes on Twos


Our lives are not problems to be solved.

If we can face our worst fears, then maybe they won’t continue to secretly run our life.

Where does real confidence come from if not from knowing that we can handle whatever experience comes our way?

The western view is to improve ourselves and our circumstances.

The Buddhist view is not primarily to improve our experience; instead, it is to invite a shift in perspective so that we are willing and able to fully relate to any experience we might have, regardless of what it may be.

“Enlightenment is an accident — but meditation makes us accident-prone.” — Baker Roshi

It makes sense to be kind to oneself, and to everyone.

The experience of freedom arises not from acquiring our preferred lifestyle and our preferred state of mind but from a willingness to stay with ourselves — to be completely committed to experiencing our lives — regardless of circumstance.

If we start to believe that the past is causing our present circumstances, then we’ve positioned ourselves as powerless victims.

For a month, drop any claim that there’s something wrong. No more complaints, resentments, or blame.

What am I feeling right now that I don’t want to feel?

Stages of dissolving our internal divisions

1. Awaken from our experience and see what’s really going on.

2. Investigate and begin to increase our tolerance for fear and disturbances.

3. Accept and say yes to ourselves and the truth of our experience.

4. Move towards what’s difficult, the disturbance starts to feel more manageable

5. Welcome our disturbance

We want to feel these feelings because they’re us.

6. Commit completely to the truth of our experience

7. Love our worst fears

What a relief to be unconditionally kind to the messy, confused human that we are.

The past profoundly shapes what arises in this present moment, and how we engage in this moment profoundly influences what arises in the future. But our experience is only found in each present moment.

We are already free. Nothing needs to change for us to feel complete and at peace except our own perception of reality.

Basic breathing meditation:

  1. Begin by paying attention to your breathing, without commentary.
  2. Once you feel settled, attend to any experience that arises.
  3. Maintain a sense of open curiosity and awareness.
  4. If you become fascinated with some drama or dialogue, return to your breathing as a way to return to embodied immediacy.
  5. Practice with a sense of nothing to accomplish, only appreciating your irresolvable and unending stream of experience.


Awareness is said to be without bias. We’re just as aware of feeling happy as we are of feeling sad; we’re just as aware of being healthy as we are of dying. Awareness doesn’t have preferences. It’s always there, regardless.

Our work is holding the intention to relax, over and over again, into what is already present.

Every experience arises in a larger experience of awareness. When viewed from the perspective of awareness, our preferences fall away. We no longer have a bias toward joy and away from depression. Regardless of circumstances, our experience is one of freedom. Resting in awareness is resting in a freedom that is not dependent on any conditions. We begin to see that, in the present moment, nothing is incomplete. There’s no deficit; there’s nothing missing. Everything is just what it is, with no comparisons possible until we introduce interpretations


Life is incredibly complex, always changing, and not under our control.

We’re always projecting our preferences onto our experience and assuming our interpretations are a reliable measure of what’s really going on.

“What we resist, persists”

It’s rare that you can suddenly achieve a goal. But you can always commit to a practice that you hope will move you in that direction.

What would it be like if this is it? If life never gets any better than it is at this moment?

As we become less identified with our interpretations of our experience, and participate more in our experience, we may find no inherent evidence that anything we experience is actually about us.

The sense of well-being is forever present — we just have to remember to discipline our attention.

A good state of mind is always available. Nothing is required. We don’t have to do anything at all except look for it because it’s always there.

Anxiety & struggle

We have a collective societal fantasy that we’re not supposed to feel anxious. We relate to our experience of anxiety as evidence that there must be something wrong with us or our lives.

Absent a central struggle, we have no center to our life at all. We just show up each moment and deal with our life as it happens.

Develop confidence in our willingness and ability to experience our fear, anxiety, and negativity and to work with whatever may arise at any moment.

Being present

What more open experience am I refusing to participate in right now?

Until we’re ready to be present, embodied, and kind toward the truth of our experience, we will have an investment in maintaining the neurotic struggle.

Bringing repressed material into awareness allows us to feel more integrated, and less divided.

The point is to stay present with all of my experiences with no agenda of understanding, healing, or resolving; just participating in whatever arises with awareness.

I relate to whatever arises with awareness, embodied immediacy, and unconditional kindness, cultivating a resilient relationship with all experiencing.

Not knowing who we are does not make us dysfunctional. On the contrary, it gives rise to the experience of freedom, unconditional confidence, and open-heartedness.


Bring our attention out of the interpretation and into sensation. When we do this, we are bringing our attention out of our history and into what is most true in the immediate moment.

Focusing on bodily sensations can be a powerful practice in both dissolving unnecessary neurotic suffering and in inviting more frequent moments of open awareness.

7 fundamental states of affective arousal: anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, anxiety, and surprise.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald


Buddhists believe our sense of basic disconnection is illusionary, maintained out of awareness, moment by moment, with great effort and creativity.

All life forms must have both the qualities of separateness and of connection. Any life form must compete for resources and defend itself. And any life form is completely interconnected with its physical and biological environment.

In relationships, it works best to lead with our experience of connection when things are friendly, going well, cooperative.

When both partners are leading with connection, it’s the time for sharing our vulnerabilities, risking discussions about sensitive issues, and exposing aspects of ourselves that we usually keep private.

Every balanced relationship includes both togetherness and separation.

So many people who desire more intimacy and closeness with their partners would actually benefit from stepping back and getting comfortable with feeling alone.

When no one is really available or interested in the child, the last thing that child will do is not assert any separateness. As an adult, this person might mysteriously end up with a partner who is emotionally unavailable — because that’s the kind of relationship the adult knows and understands.

It’s difficult to acknowledge the truth of separateness. It feels like we’re risking loss of the relationship.

Traditionally women have been taught that their worth as persons comes from relationship, from their ability to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Men are taught that their worth comes from their ability to stand up as separate people. If a man shows too much dependency or emotional sensitivity, he’s often criticized as not being manly enough.

Just as personal neurosis can have incredibly damaging effects on one’s sense of self and confidence in the world, so codependency can slowly kill the love between two people. The more each of us blames and feels blamed, without taking care of ourselves, the more damage is caused.

When we’re taking good care of ourselves — paying attention to our own needs and not expecting our partners to do it for us — we are still affected by our mates, but their behavior doesn’t occur as a survival-level threat.

Taking care of ourselves includes setting boundaries and communicating them to our partner.

“The awakened mind is that mind intimate with all things.” — Dōgen

I love you, but I’m not here on the planet to be who you want me to be or to take care of your feelings for you. And I guess you’re not here to be who I want you to be or to take care of my feelings.

Behave as if your partner were your best friend, was on your side, as if you were appreciated of their trying their best.

Focus on what you appreciate about your partner, on all of the evidence that doesn’t support your complaint.

If we were taking really good care of ourselves, we would not have complaints. We’d be taking such good care of ourselves that we wouldn’t need our partners to be any different than they already are.

Whatever complaint you have about another person is actually an indication that somehow they have not taken effective responsibility for your own well-being.

When we do not take good care of ourselves in a relationship, we almost always contract into a state of self-absorption.


The most satisfying life is one that is fully lived, rather than one in which we’ve accumulated the most positive experiences.

Ignoring is the most basic cause of unnecessary suffering.

As we dissolve the vivid appearance of self-absorption, what we experience gradually becomes less about “me” and more about the experience itself.

Discard nothing, appreciate everything. Look for freedom in every moment of our life. If you look for what’s already there, you are likely to find it. The experience of freedom is already there.

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Parker Klein ✌️

Codin' + Oatin'. Former @Google @Qualcomm @PizzaNova. Programmer, reader, writer. Simply remember *things* w/ Twos (