[Listen to me read this reflection here]
To live in harmony with my beliefs is not easy.
It is much easier to conform to someone else’s beliefs. As then I am accepted, will receive praise and feel that I am worthy. However, deep down, once I make the purpose of my life to conform to someone else’s beliefs, then I have lost myself. I am no longer living.
To know what it is that I uniquely believe does not come automatically. It is much simpler to figure out what I should believe. These are advertised, marketed, promoted and taught to me.
I will make excuses, delegate these choices to others and convince myself that I do not have permission to have my own beliefs. I assume that I have no choice but to align with the beliefs of those around me. Be it society, culture, religion, teachers, parents, friends, managers and more. Like a sponge, I soak them all in.
To figure out what it is that I believe is not easy.
It takes space to see that I do have permission to have my own beliefs.
It then takes courage to explore what it is that I now believe to be true, with an understanding that it may not align with what I was raised to believe.
It finally takes strength to actually try to live in harmony with my beliefs. This is where the real work begins.
The why behind my belief is more important than the belief itself. As therein lies my underlying intention and what it is that is actually influencing my life.
Might it be a fear of pain? I believe that if I do not exercise regularly, my physical body will deteriorate and be in pain one day.
Might it be a desired feeling? I believe that if I meditate regularly, I will feel more grounded and calm throughout my day.
Might it be transactional? I believe that if I work harder, I will make more money.
Might it be a love of life? I believe in wearing a mask to reduce the spread of a deadly virus that will kill other people.
My unmet desires and unfulfilled dreams are often shaping my beliefs. The desire to feel good enough, worthy and to belong. The dream to have a certain experience of life.
It is fascinating to explore the why behind my beliefs. I am often surprised.
The agitation in my mind, the illnesses and injuries in my body, I wonder how much of it arises from me living in disharmony with my beliefs?
I believe that the pandemic should be done by now. It is not and will not be soon. This triggers agitation in my mind.
The difference between my beliefs and reality is where all of my suffering lies.
Does this mean that I should limit or avoid having beliefs, to limit or avoid my suffering? No. To be human is to carry beliefs. I understand that along my journey through life, I will feel agitated, frustrated, tired and chewed up by reality at times. Reality is not always going to be aligned perfectly with my beliefs. And reality will always win.
Thus, it is best for me to learn to develop beliefs that are in alignment with reality.
This assumes that I understand reality to begin with. That I feel a connection with reality. That I am living in a state of awareness of reality, as opposed to a state of ignorance.
There is simply no other option.
I cannot learn about reality from someone else writing about it or speaking about it. They might describe to me their experience of reality, however, the best that I will do if I depend on others is to learn how to imagine reality. My imagination is powerful, however, imagining reality is different than being with reality.
In each moment, I can choose to connect with reality or to disconnect from reality.
Watching movies continuously, scrolling endlessly through social feeds, excessively drinking and binging on food are all examples of choices to disconnect from reality. They are doorways into a different reality, be it someone else’s or a fictional one.
In doses, it can be helpful to connect with another’s reality. It builds empathy for me, can be a source of inspiration, shows me what is possible and creates the space for me to gain a perspective that I otherwise would not have.
However to live continuously in someone else’s reality, or to constantly try to escape from my own reality, leads to a state of disharmony, and ultimately, disease.
No matter how painful it may be to live with my own reality, I choose it over someone else’s.
Each day, I try to cross two bridges.
One is a bridge that takes me from a place of ignorance to a place of awareness. Awareness of reality, by choosing to pay attention to my experience of life and to not be distracted by other’s experiences of life.
The other is a bridge that takes me from a place of carrying blind beliefs to a place where I feel empowered and free to uncover beliefs unique to me, ones that are grounded in my desires and dreams.
To live in harmony with my beliefs, and for those beliefs to be in alignment with reality, is to be in harmony with myself. I then can glide through life with a little less friction, and a little more ease.