Reflecting on Thoughts and Perception

photo credit: Ed Yourdon

In a moment of Twitter serendipity, I came across this beautiful photo that  Ed Yourdon (@yourdon) posted to his Flickr stream. A few minutes later J.SewellPerkins (@TheSCICoach) posted this quotation:

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

As we go about our daily lives, everything that we do is filtered through our perceptions. I am part of a book club with the group of women that I took yoga teacher training with last fall. Our current read is Turning the Mind into an Ally by Buddhist teacher Sakyong Mipham.

He teaches that when we first begin to practice meditation or start a quest down a spiritual path we believe that our thoughts and emotions are solid. But as we continue our enquiry into the mind we see that thoughts are more like mist rising from the water. But they gain power because we believe in them and base our choices and everything that we do on them.

Our concept of “me” is based on our belief in the solidity of thought. But as we contemplate the idea that our thoughts are not solid nor are they “us” they begin to have less power over us and our reactions to life. A sense of clarity starts to grow.

“This state of clarity connects us with reality. Whether we are writing a master’s thesis or cooking a meal, we are clear about who we are and what we are doing. We know our basic goodness. The mind’s our ally, and we feel wholesome and complete. It’s as if we’ve slept well and eaten well, and we’re in good surroundings. We have a healthy sense of self.” (p.130, Turning the Mind into an Ally)

This idea is both comforting and grounding. When problems arise they often hog a good part of our focus and energy. I find that it is easy to sort of lose my place in time and space. My brain gets a bit foggy. By learning how our minds work, we cultivate a healthy sense of self and we begin to feel at ease.  We realize that we have everything that we need to figure things out.  And as is the circular nature of it all, as we ourselves, we change how we see the world.

Now time to go finish the book before our first book club meeting on Friday!

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