I had a wonderful conversation with a friend earlier today. She had just finished reading the book When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Neale Donald Walsch and called to talk about how some of the concepts in this book could be translated into practical language and applied to our everyday life. That being one of my favorite things to do, we went to town with focus on three perceptions of reality described in that book and how they shape our lives. I had just finished reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (another author having conversations with God) that included the idea that "paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions", so I was primed and grateful for this opportunity. With deep thanks to my friend and collaborator, the following is our translation and application.
In the paradigm of "distorted reality", we apply past experiences into our assessment of a present day event. Because it looks like something we know, we interpret it as if it is the same as that old event, thereby creating a feedback loop that limits the possibility of it being something different. In essence we are building a survival pattern that argues for the status quo, something that our unconscious mind supports. We know how to deal with what is familiar, so it gives a sense of security and safety. And this system can work really well in practical survival, but it does not serve us well if we wish to thrive in our intimate relationships. We can become locked in our personal version of Jean Paul Sartre's No Exit, endlessly repeating the same relationship patterns because there is very little room for anything new.
A shift in consciousness occurs in "observed reality", a paradigm that does not apply past data to present events. It takes each experience as something new and is open to possibility. It is a more objective witnessing of experience that avoids contaminating the present day with past days. While it is still operating in physical and cognitive planes, it allows for creating a new reality and avoids the feedback loop of repetitive patterns. From my frame of reference, it operates from the perspective of the "absolute beginner", that open place from childhood where we could truly learn new things.
And then there is the "ultimate reality", a totally different vantage point altogether that comes from the wisdom of the soul rather than that of the mind. It operates in the spiritual plane according to the concept that life is self-sustaining and all change is for the better. This paradigm is designed to move us closer to God. However, the soul may not choose what seems to be in our best interest; it may sacrifice our comfort and apparent well being for a greater good. Often when soul recognizes repetition in a no win situation, it will create a way out that sometimes leads to an inner debate between the mind and the soul. The mind says "no, change is scary". The soul moves us forward.
These paradigms of reality are kind of like human operating systems. When we are functioning in one of them, it is how we see the world, and those perceptions create our reality, they structure what we can and cannot do. The mind automatically reaches for past data, so the first paradigm is usually most familiar. Since the faster something vibrates the more solid it appears, slowing down our thoughts is the first step to shifting gears into another place of perception that can result in a new reality. Breath, meditation, prayer, observation, stillness, and time in nature allow us to notice where we are and chose a new direction. Paying attention to the present moment rather than dwelling in the past can provide opportunity to inhibit and redirect our thoughts, to open our minds and hearts and be more receptive to spiritual growth.
"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body" C.S. Lewis