The Creation of Reality

The concept that we each create our own reality is one that I’ve always enjoyed contemplating. The more I’ve worked as a therapist and done my own personal emotional/spiritual work, the deeper meaning this statement has taken. On a very basic level, the thoughts we entertain shape the beliefs we hold and the perspectives we carry through our life. These perspectives in turn shape the meaning we make about each situation we encounter. In short, we really do create our own reality. If I hold a belief that people are fundamentally selfish and self-serving in their behaviors, I will interpret the actions of others from this frame of reference and confirm my bias. However, if I chose to hold a belief that people are generally kind and thoughtful and are doing the best they can in any given moment, I will view the behaviors I witness from this perspective. In short, I can chose how I want to interpret any given moment, thus changing my experience and encoded memory of it and in turn directly influence my immediate and long term emotional response.

After enough repetitions of these perspective creating experiences, I begin to reinforce my view of the world (for better or worse), as well as my general approach to the world around me. In short, I create a reality–engage in the world based on that reality and thus continue to confirm my hypothesis with my own self-serving reinforcing feedback loop.

Now, if you can begin to see how you create your own reality, let’s go one step further. If each of us creates an individual reality within a larger socio-communal network, we begin to influence each other’s perspectives and in many cases begin to form a collective view or a shared reality. The negative version of this process, called “group think”, accounts for many of the prejudiced and irrational behaviors that historically and currently exist.

So here is a thought…what if we each, individually, followed Ghandi’s lead to be the change we wished to see in the world?

If we each committed to creating a compassionate, loving, beautiful reality in our personal world and refused to converge with any limiting beliefs or negative realities around us. If each person were able to create an individual reality of lovingkindness, the collective reality would certainly be impacted for the better. If the collective reality shifted just enough, it would most certainly result in concrete world changes.

Waiting for change to occur outside of ourselves as a catalyst for our own internal change may leave us waiting forever. Are you prepared to challenge your views and habitual ways of engaging to improve your existence and the existence of those around you?

Don’t know where to start?

Start with meditation. No matter your religion or lack thereof. Meditation begins to reduce reactivity and create supportive neural structures to allow for greater acceptance of self and other. Meditation helps us become more mindful of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and to observe how we impact those around us. Meditation leads us to connect, in an experiential way, with the fact that we actually do create our own reality—by increasing mindful awareness and move toward higher consciousness.

There’s a day of hope

May I live to see,

When our hearts are happy

And our souls are free.

Let the new day dawn,

Oh, Lord, I pray.

We’ll never get to heaven

Till we reach that day.

~Ragtime

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Get Healthy! Benefits of Meditation and Yoga

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of yoga…for so many reasons. For one, yoga is an incredibly helpful accompaniment to therapy due to it’s focus on creating self-awareness and present-centered focus (mindfulness). Yoga, like meditation–another love of mine–helps us to tune into our body states. Whether an active flow yoga, a gentle yin yoga, a restorative series or any number of other styles–yoga provides a built-in opportunity for meditation practice. An opportunity to explore the Self.

By tuning into and developing greater awareness of our body (heart beat, breath and bodily sensations) and our thought patterns, we develop a powerful knowledge–self-knowledge. Understanding our mind and it’s tendencies allows us the chance to make changes in the ways we respond to any number of situations. We can begin to refrain from our reactive tendencies and move toward healthy responses. In addition to reducing things like depression and anxiety, this may also be the key to developing healthy relationships. The more we connect with and understand ourself, the greater chance to foster acceptance and compassion for ourself–refraining from criticism and judgment. As we develop compassion for ourself, we can become more empathic with others. Our mirror neurons begin firing and we are able to “feel” the imagined experience of another–made easier by increasing our capacity to “feel” our own emotional experiences more fully. Thus, even those with a lower emotional intelligence may begin to increase their connection to self and other through activities like yoga, meditation and therapy.

It’s not a far stretch to imagine how those with difficulty identifying their own emotional state would have difficulty connecting fully in their relationships. Those struggling with emotional connection may feel less connected in their relationships due to an inability to attune to the needs and experiences of others. This is partially a learned way of being. That is to say, developmentally, our early caretakers played a huge role in helping develop the neural connections needed to foster healthy relationships–to understand and be able to tolerate our own emotional states (as well as the emotional states of others). Without predictable/consistent nurturing interactions by our early care givers (including regular experiences of attunement and empathic reflection as well as reparative experiences after being appropriately shamed or punished), the development of our important neural connections, like mirror neurons (amongst others), may suffer. We may avoid activating (possibly without awareness) our “emotional brain” for fear of not being able to manage or understand it once it’s fired up. This avoidance might result in a lesser ability to clearly and deeply understand our own emotional states and thus the emotional states of others–a kind of avoidance feedback loop, if you will. But, there is hope!

Therapy, yoga and meditation are all great ways to begin to create connection between mind and body–or more specifically, create stronger neural connections in your brain. For those already attending or planning to attend therapy–try a meditation or yoga group to help expedite your therapeutic process and growth as well as your personal and relational gains!

~Dr. Rebecca Harvey
Total Wellness Consultants

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