Sunday, January 25, 2009

Perception = Reality

I asked a while back: Do you really make the world with your thoughts? The more I think about this question, the more I realize that to a very, very large extent, we do. The way we react and interact with the world and all the people and things in it is totally based on what we perceive. So, perception really does equal our reality.

For example, if your perception is that resources are scarce, that is indeed your reality and you will behave accordingly. And you know what? No one can to tell you that your reality is not the truth because all your senses (ways of knowing) have affirmed that to you. Now, you can always reflect on why you are perceiving things the way you are and sometimes you will realize that your perception was false. Sometimes gentle, loving people that you might meet in your life might help you with those realizations. Other times, however, it just strikes you because you realize how limiting your perception is and you just want to be free. I know that personally I have done a lot of spiritual and mental work to change my perceptions in the interest of being truly free and happy.

But I still have work to do.

Yesterday evening I had a severe allergy attack. Sneezing. Itchy, watery, swollen eyes. It was awful. I managed to get everyone ready for bed but I couldn't really sleep. Eventually I gave in and took my allergy medication. The stuff knocked me out cold and when the alarm rang at 5:00Am, I was hardly ready to get up so I re-set it for 6. I woke at 5:45. Everyone was still sound asleep so I thought I'd try to get some meditation in and workout. I started to write in my journal and realized I felt so very rush. My perception was that there was just not enough time to meditate the way I needed to and exercise. So I was hurriedly writing in my journal, rushing, rushing, rushing to get my thoughts out and time just seemed to be flying by. I then opened Meditations to Heal Your Life, almost convinced that exercise just wouldn't happen today, and landed on the entry called "Time".

Full Stop.

My perception was that there was not enough time to do what I had to do so I felt rushed. And time was therefore rushing by. My perception right there was dictating what I was experiencing. So I took a deep breath and repeated "I have enough time to do what I need to do." I spoke those words into myself. And I did have enough time to chant the way I wanted, write what I wanted, exercise how I wanted and even get a minute to read blogs. My children stayed peacefully asleep while I did what I had to do. Now, tomorrow I'll probably be up by 5 and do what I need to do before 6:30 but today was a day when I could have easily ended up feeling crunched, frustrated and disappointed but a shift in my perception gave me the freedom to do all the things I needed to do to start the day off properly. To be a smiling, content, balanced, and ready mother and wife this day.

Now, in my life I have had many instances when people have tried to tell me that my perception was wrong. That what I saw wasn't really what I saw. And what I heard wasn't really what I heard. But I'm so convinced that perception equals reality. If what I saw I perceived as abuse, it was abuse. If what I felt I perceived as neglect, it was neglect. If what I perceived was that I was being looked down upon, I was being looked down upon. In this regard, the only thing that matters, the only thing that's real is what I perceive. In all honesty, no one has the right to tell me how to feel or to tell me how I feel, what I perceive is wrong even if in his/her mind, my perception is a flat out lie. My perception comes from somewhere! What's been said. What's been done. My own personal history and how I've learned to negotiate the world and behave in relationships. So it's legitimate and the truth to me. Still, the onus is entirely on me to constantly check how I am perceiving things. Self-reflect. Ask myself honest questions. Dig deep to find the answers. Don't be afraid to just ask folks even if it offends or hurts feelings to make sure that I am perceiving things correctly. (Note to self: I should call that the mama I met in the park that I perceived didn't call me because she thinks it's weird that I cloth diaper and don't comb my kids' hair . . . she might have just misplaced my number.) It's so important because what's real to me is what I perceive and if my perception is wrong, well, then my reality is a sham. When others confront me when they have issues with me, I try to keep this in mind. What someone might be perceiving as me being conceited or haughty when I keep to myself might actually be me being shy or preoccupied. I should hope that before they walk away with that perception, they give me a chance to influence it. I should hope that I'm able to listen carefully and with humility so I can either give them a thumbs up on their perception or tell them they are actually mis-perceiving (in a way that doesn't reinforce the mis-perception, of course).

Which brings about my next point. We all have different perceptions and so we all have different realities. How do we live together if we are all essentially living in different worlds? I think the key is to acknowledge that we all perceive things in different ways while doing our best to erase mis-perceptions about ourselves and the groups we choose to belong to and realizing that the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality, the truest perception is somewhere over our heads. Somewhere we can't really get to while limited by this flesh.

Anyway, with each passing day the Buddha's words make more sense to me:
With our thoughts we make the world.


Smokie said...

This is something I'm working on: always being mindful of another's perception. Good post. I'll have to read it again.

Miriam said...

I learned something similar! That what we verbally say makes the world we live in.

Thanks for this.

DeStouet said...

You're a very good woman, Chi-Chi.

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

Thanks Smokie. It's so important to be mindful of other's perceptions even as we focus on ours.

Miriam, I totally agree . . . there's power in your word.

DeStouet, thank you. I feel the exact same way about you.

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