Perception: Our Lady Keeps Her Eye on the World
The more I live the more I learn. The more I learn the more I live. How can it be that no matter where we came from or who we are – there is one thing that is a constant for all of us that we rarely talk about, although it may well be one of the most important ingredients for personal or global peace. Perception.
There are many things that are out of our individual control. Whether it be the family we are born into and our past, or world affairs or the condition of our local water supply – many of these things are impossible for us to change, or we feel powerless to do anything about. We are continually responding to the past, present and future from a reactive position. Generally speaking: Life is happening TO US. We are not happening to life. There are always exceptions, people who think the thoughts we need to think about how to make transformation possible and find a way to share that with us. And thank you to the brave souls and futurists who through their willingness to think beyond the NOW and into the NOW WHAT realm.
I cannot blame anyone for feeling helpless. We may feel as if we have no power over things like water and air quality. Who feel there is not enough time in a day to think beyond their personal needs, the “I am going to get mine” headset. I find it one of the most tempting thoughts of this century. It is like it was released on a silent loud speaker and filtered into tiny particles we consumed in our coca cola. But it isn’t just in coca cola it is in our tofu too. We are in a race to survive, and it takes a truly conscious effort, a breakthrough or a breakdown to separate out our mind and heart for a moment, and go: “wait a moment here. there are thoughts I am thinking that are not mine own”. It makes me think of that old Talking Heads song, where he says: “How did I get here?” As if we are suddenly waking from the raucus din of teenagehood, were forced into educations and jobs and circumstances in which our ability to CHOOSE seemed non-existent. We found ourselves racing, first credit card in hand towards a life where acquiring goods meant we were going to be okay.
I was not raised with excess. But I was raised with enough – but even more important than enough – I was raised with beauty. My mother, being a carpenter and a seamstress could turn any slum into a palace using sheets of plywood and sheets of Ralph Lauren from the sales table at Macy’s. I used to tell my friends, I know from the outside it looks like the ghetto (and it was) but on the inside we live like Queens (and we did) because no matter how much we had or didn’t have – my mom made it feel abundant with her care. But even more than that – even more than any teaching she gave me, perspective and perception were the key to my becoming who I am. She gave me those two tools, one in each hand and told me how to use them as if my very happiness in life would be dependent on whether I could wield the wand in an instant of PERCEPTION. Literally, how I looked at what was occurring as it was occurring. And then, the PERSPECTIVE I chose to hold about it would inform every move we made.
When I was young, my mother used these tools to improve our perception of situations in experiences we were having – literally turning challenging flights in to the dark night – into grand and great adventures into the wild unknown. I had a part in creating this with her. She even let me change my name from school to school! She did such a good job teaching me these two words that I now use them on her. A sweet toolkit that gives US a way to be about life. We remind one another. And we PRACTICE being PREPARED for the challenges. We know they are going to come along, sure as the sun rises. This does not mean that by being prepared for challenge that we somehow call it towards ourselves. No. There is profound acceptance of the way things are – that comes with being prepared. Recently I spoke to a woman whose husband kept treating her in a way she did not like – a gradually increasing demeaning tone of voice that was hurtful for her. I said, are you pretty sure that when he comes home tonight, he is going to do it? Yes. Do you always react the same way? yes. I said since you know he is going to do it, what if you are prepared for it to happen and instead of reacting you just let it go on past you – don’t take it in – and move onto something else – or say, you know, it doesn’t feel good to me, when you talk that way, I will be in the other room when you are ready to have a conversation that feels good to both of us. I told her the key was being READY to not react. Well, she did it, it worked, and he stopped being that way. Period. She was amazed. What if we approached challenges with preparedness and non-judgement? Asking ourselves what our intention is PRIOR to each situation?
Although I have lived all of my life, having a certain degree of perspective, thanks to my mom, Caron McCloud and Sue Hoya Sellers, Co-Madre – they shared teachings that put me in better charge of my emotions. And still, for the most part, I continue to be stunned by the amount of power that this method actually holds for me, and for the people in my life and workshops where I teach this as practice paired with creativity. This is not a new thought. But it is one we need to continue to practice. Non-reactivity is one of the most powerful things I learned to do while being married. Now again, it is not 100% of the time, but you know what, 75% is a lot and goes a long way towards peace in our home. How we react to our circumstances either empowers or disempowers us, there is not too much in between. This is an area where we have some control. Perception is the root of lasting change. We are choosing how we are going to perceive, receive, relate – we can practice being in control of our mental hooplah – which threatens to run wild on us at the first sign of imposition. We do have a choice in how we relate to our world – we can learn to practice managing our reactivity. Reacting takes so much energy – and leaves us very little to work with. We need a lot of our energy just to navigate day to day life – when we use it up on reacting and feeling powerless, there is very little left for us Practice with.
I doubt I am sharing anything that you don’t already know. But I know that I need to be reminded of who I have chosen to show up as, a peaceful passionate woman. Anything that takes me from this – needs to be dealt with – and the folks around me who love me remind me, it is our culture to support one another in growth, transformation and how to shift our perceptions. Every belief needs to be re-examined for how it is serving or hindering. Uplifting our limiting. Each rock needs to be turned over and looked underneath. Each onion needs to be peeled back. We must examine how we are living, and who is living IN HERE? In this body mind spirit? Do we like him or her? Do we feel empowered in our lives? loves? works? What residual thought patterns do we have about time/money/past that are holding us captive, and we don’t even know it?
In closing, I want to say that my sharing this, or any of the letters I write, doesn’t mean I think I have it figured out. I do however work with hundreds of students who give me insight into places that are really working – and – through my own practice I have tracked the things that work and don’t and I work with them every day!
I send you bright and beautiful blessings. I hope that this little note can bring something to you today – is some tiny way – that supports a Perception of you and your life, that feels really good to you! I know it is hard, and right now, perhaps even harder than usual – but there really IS SO MUCH beauty in each instant to look towards…let us see it together.
A Word from the Art Doctor… sharing a practice for clearing old perceptions and claiming some new ones.
A remedy from the Art Doctor, in the event you have not yet REALLY taken a day or two to examine your thoughts and beliefs lately, is to take one whole day for Visionary Shifting. Make sure your phone and computer are off, and that your friends/family/work knows you are not available. Write, paint, draw, sing, pray, rant and rave all in the request of your soul “yielding up” your existing beliefs and perceptions. Ask for 20 or 50 existing thoughts about money, family, health, God/Goddess, government, body image and write it down. Or paint it. Or dance it. Try to schedule a sun up to sun down time. Once you get your list – take a break. Do a prayer for releasing them, knowing that what is true and useful will come back – nothing valuable will be lost. Then sit in the release – clear space. Sit in the blissful emptiness of no perception. Then one by one, take a look at them. Ask, is this me? Is it useful? If it really serves you – you can ask where you got it, but I have come to feel the where is less important in this process – but the where you are going is much more important. For each one, evaluate and examine it. Then one by one, make a declaration of the perceptions you are going to hold in your life. We cannot change the past, but we can change the perception of the past – and how it lives in our body and spirit. We can. Believe that you don’t have to live with the old stories the same way – believe that there new ways, that are healing that are available right now. Possibilities. Write them out. Give thanks. And commit, here is the practice part – commit to your new list. Commit to remembering this list and to being the person who holds truths that you choose and not ones chosen for you – by anyone. Even thoughts about Creator, hand fed by someone else can be dangerous – what do YOU believe about it? You can TRULY affect your life – by how you think, AND HOW YOU PRACTICE your thoughts in real time. We are all doing it anyone – so when we take conscious control – the changes of a more fulfilling life are that much more available.
A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist. Bucky Fuller
Beneditcion: Oh Lady, who keeps her Eye on the World and on our lives, show us what we do not see. Show us what we need to see. Let us feel the comfort of your loving and watchful gaze on our lives even when we feel so alone. We know you are watching. We don’t know about all of this – and all that is happening and is going to happen, but strengthen our faith anyhow. Show us the way through….