UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young
We make life real
By the thoughts we project
- Deng Ming-Dao
Can you remember being in high school and having to interpret a poem? You may have wondered how in the world you could have any idea what the author intended by such abstract expressions and unfamiliar references. Every reader could come away with a different interpretation, depending on how the author’s expression of experience interacted with the reader’s experiences and interpretations. I have come to realize that, in a sense, our lives are like a poem, one that can be interpreted in many different ways.
As a therapist, I have listened to thousands of clients as they sorted out the events of their lives, and their internal experience of those events. Naturally there are myriad versions of similar events: a difficult or abusive childhood, troubled relationships, work stresses or conflicts, challenges with children, losses and major life changes.
How we feel about ourselves and our lives is a consequence of the meaning we assign to the “story” - an individual event that has occurred, or a life pattern. Imagine looking through a kaleidoscope and seeing a complex image. Little bits of coloured glass combined with mirrors create varying patterns. The slightest turn of the kaleidoscope changes the “picture” completely. So it is that the slightest turn in our perception of a situation in our lives changes the big picture as well.
Imagine now, that when you looked through the kaleidoscope, the image you saw was projected onto a large screen. The same little bits of glass create a multitude of different pictures. Think of the events in your life as little bits of glass. Imagine that they can be combined and recombined creating patterns which may be radically different from one another. Our consciousness is the mirror that reflects one of those patterns onto the screen that is our life, and that pattern becomes our reality. It is almost as though we step into that particular version of reality and live it as if it were indeed the reality.
What if we do not like it? Typically, we go to the screen and try to rearrange the pattern, but that is not where it is coming from. It is coming from our perception that is projected onto the screen. In order to change what we are seeing out there, we have to change how we perceive in here. This is complex and difficult to do, because we have grown up in a culture that is based on a societal consensus that reality is what is out there. As in the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, where everyone agreed to pretend they could see fabulous garments adorning the naked emperor, our culture operates on the basis of an unspoken agreement to take our projections as reality.
We may feel as though we are entering a vast no man’s land, drifting and detached from the mainstream, when we begin the process of sitting back and releasing our hold on that “one reality.” It can feel overwhelming to realize the level of responsibility we have when we become aware of the implications of the perceptual perspective we choose - implications for ourselves and others.
It can also be empowering and freeing to recognize we have control over the “lenses” we place on our perceptual process. Negative lenses include judgment, blame, criticism and polarity, while positive lenses include compassion, understanding, love, and unity.
Becoming familiar with our ability to shift and choose perceptions, and to add or remove “lenses,” will change the way we see the world, will change how we experience it, and will change us. Perhaps this is what is meant by enlightenment or illumination: as much a change in how we see, as in what we see.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and Chartered Psychologist in private practice. Her new book, Growing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution is available through her website, www.gwen.ca or firstname.lastname@example.org