The Power of Perception

Your mind can be a stubborn and difficult taskmaster. One of its jobs is to assure your survival and so it wants to protect you by limiting your perceptions. When the ego mind can keep you on a straight and narrow path you are less likely to encounter danger. The mind will tell you not to try something new because you may not succeed. It may cost you something: your job, friends, money or love. Yet, you are drawn to novel experiences. You long to experience new things so there is a struggle to overcome. But when you get too close to the edge the taskmaster will pull you back. They might get ahead of you and leave you behind. How will you survive then? The mind doesn’t want you to change.

Change is energy and energy is always moving like electrons swirling about the nucleus. Electricity vibrates and moves. It doesn’t stay still. A body of water that has no movement quickly becomes stagnant and toxic. When you try to hold the world in stasis you become like a dam holding back the water. When the pressure becomes too great, the dam will break, and the water will move beyond its boundaries and flood the low-lying areas. After the initial wave subsides, the water will return to its normal flow.

I want to share a story about the power of perception. I was in my second year of University and my work in cognitive science. One of my psychology instructors gave me a lead to a job working as a counselor in a residential mental health facility. I thought what a perfect fit, this is going to be a great job! I worked for 3 days straight from Friday to Sunday and I was able to keep my schedule open for classes. I would go in Friday afternoon and leave Sunday night. I lived at the Center along with the clients. There were cabins in the mountains, and I had a cabin where I spent the night, I was on call for any emergency that might come up during the night and so I never really had a deep sleep.

The Center worked with people that suffered from severe trauma and addiction. I felt that I needed to protect myself from the traumatic emotions and experiences of the clients. I thought if I really let them into my heart, I would become traumatized as well. It took a lot of energy to wall myself off and to protect myself. I had only been on the job about 6 weeks and I was feeling so drained. What I thought was going to be an incredible job was turning into a nightmare. I would leave exhausted. I thought to myself if something doesn’t shift, I cannot stay in this job. The next weekend while sleeping at the Center I had a very vivid dream. I was underwater and I was contained within a bubble. I was watching the big sharks and other monsters moving around the bubble. At first, I was glad that I was walled off and protected but then I began to suffocate. I wasn’t getting any oxygen. I was dying. I blacked out from lack of oxygen. In a few minutes I came to and I was delighted to see the water passing through the barrier. The barrier had turned into a net so that the water could move freely through the net and that bubbles filled with oxygen passed through. I was able to breathe and witness all the amazing and wondrous “monsters” that became beautifully colored sea creatures. The big sharks, the monster memories, were still circling about but I was protected by the net. I was in awe of watching this beautiful underwater world. I felt refreshed, amazed and touched by wonder.

When I woke up, I understood that I was killing myself by walling off my emotions. The power of perception allowed me to embrace and see a new possibility, a fresh way to interact. When I allowed the energy to move through me and around me, and to let my energy move freely out into the water I was saved. I not only stayed in the job, but I worked there for a decade and developed my spiritual workshops and creativity groups. A dream saved my life, but it was just a new way to perceive the same energy. Rather than using all my energy to become the dam and block the natural flow of the water I dismantled the barrier and let the stream flow around me. When the water rose, I was able to float with it. Life became more joyful and I was able to help many people move beyond their fears and stuck perceptions. They in turn enriched my life.

I use these same ideas in looking at perception in creating my art. Am I getting stuck in my view or perception of what I want to paint or sculpt? Am I allowing the muse to have her say in the process? Do I judge the work by the shadow gremlins that speak for the ego mind? Do I let fear keep my from trying something new? How can I let my perceptions change and allow a new way of seeing to emerge? Follow your perceptions and ask yourself these questions. Would you rather be safe or floating free and filled with the wonder of the imagination? Allow your perceptions to expand and you will discover an immense well of energy waiting to carry you along this beautiful river of creativity.

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