For the longest time, I considered the word freedom to mean my ability to do what I wanted, in all realms of life: vocational, religious, romantic-sexual, social.
But as I grew older I discovered (as I suppose all of us discover) that the need to act in a particular way in fact diminishes my inner freedom. In other words, if I am driven by my desires, compelled to do certain things or be a certain way, then I am most emphatically not free. An upside-down perception that is extremely liberating.
Then the question arises: what constitutes freedom?
My current understanding is that freedom is essentially freedom from inner compulsion. We are, most of our waking lives, slaves to our desires. Meditative philosophies teach us to watch our inner worlds, dissolve them, discover peace and compassion and an other-oriented life.
Freedom, ultimately, might mean freedom from our inner patterns of thought and emotion.