Beliefs and Perception

A few years ago I had the experience of being temporarily immersed in a world of scientists and psychologists while at a happiness conference. I love science and psychology but I also love spirituality and my psychic or shamanic world. Unfortunately, most people who are into science and psychology aren’t so open-minded. While immersed in this dry world of intellect and ideas, I found myself losing touch with my psychic self because I felt I had to hide it or be deemed a crack pot, or someone of lesser intelligence.

When I returned again to my own world, I had to revalidate my psychic self and work on building stronger bridges between each of my passions. The research and soul-searching that ensued has reinforced my belief that concepts such as life after death, past lives, spirit guides and so on, can be extremely useful psychological tools. Rather than dismissing them because they are not ‘scientific’ I value their practical use in healing, counselling and psychology.

Spiritual practises and new age beliefs have some excellent psychology behind them. While I do occasionally come across clients who have trouble staying grounded in reality, the vast majority of my clients use spiritual beliefs and practises to accentuate their psychological and emotional health. And while I may have my concerns about those clients who take things a little too far, I also recognise that these sensitive clients are simply coping the best way they know how, with a reality that would otherwise be too harsh and painful for them to live with.

As a spiritual healer, my job is often based on teaching people how to use spiritual beliefs and practises in an efficient and practical manner, so they can live a more effective life. An effective life is a life that is balanced; a life based on healthy relationships with the world around you, and within you; a life of harmony and fulfilment. I often marvel at the way in which our beliefs, perspectives and imagination can be used quite deliberately as tools to harness this happier and more balanced way of living. Spirituality can be a playful adventure in consciousness, contributing to the effective functioning of our lives in untold ways.

My fascination with perception and beliefs began in childhood. I had a great love for animals and plants and really felt that they were just as important as I was, in the larger scheme of things. Being quite empathetic, it often confused and upset me when I saw people in the world around me treating nature and each other with contempt, rather than care. Personally, I was intrigued with other people’s worlds, including the world of animals and plants, and I always imagined what it might be like to be someone or something else. This empathetic capacity eventually evolved into a growing interest in the idea of perception, and how it shapes a person’s behaviour. It also encouraged an open mind.

Not only was I intrigued by the idea that the same event could be viewed completely different by different people, I was rather also rather taken by mind-bending ideas such as an ‘infinite universe’. What does an infinite universe look like? If infinity stretches on forever, then where are the edges and what shape would it have? Having a playful imagination, I rather fancied that the entire thing was inside a box on a giant’s bedside table. Try contemplating the idea of an infinite universe. It’s quite a challenge for the rational mind to cope with!

As a teenager, I watched as my family explored self-hypnosis, reality-creating principles and mind-body therapies. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring concept for all of us was the power of belief. It is absolutely incredible what the mind can do when it really believes something. Or perhaps, what the body can do when the mind believes something or when it’s under great pressure to perform. I also really loved reading Carlos Castenada books, mostly because they verbalised the idea I was already forming within myself, that reality is shaped by our perception or perspective.

As a teenager, I started playing around with my beliefs and experimenting with the power of my mind through meditation and creative visualisation. As a result, I now see beliefs as choices or tools rather than immutable facts. I check my beliefs to make sure they are working for me. If they aren’t, I get to work on exchanging them for better quality beliefs. I do this because beliefs shape the way I see and experience the world around me and this further shapes my behaviour, mood and relationships.