Perception Vs Perspective

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Photo by Cody King on Pexels.com

What’s the difference?

I was curious just how different perception and perspective are so I went to trusty Google to take a look. 

Perception– The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

Perspective– One’s point of view or particular attitude towards something.

I found these definitions interesting. Can you use one without the other?

I would struggle to separate the two and yet, I know it can be done.

When I was young, a friend of mine tried to get me to like avocados. She raved that they were delicious if I would just give them a chance. I tasted a piece and found it a bit slimy. It reminded me of white glue. Before you go there, yes, I have tasted white glue as a curious kid. It was understood by me, from that day on I didn’t like avocados. I assumed all avocados tasted the same.

Fast forward a few years to a different scenario on vacation where guacamole was made right at the table. I watched as they added the green fruit and thought “ I am not going to like this”. To my surprise I did like the taste and began to perceive them in a new light. My perspective towards avocados was changed forever!

I have been working through the chakras of the Kundalini system within a course sponsored by the Yasodhara Ashram called Liberation. It’s based on a book called “Kundalini-Yoga For The West” written by Swami Sivananda Radha.

The senses have an important role in each chakra. The course challenges you to unpacked and put them through rigorous tests. To use perception to reach new awareness. Change perspective.

Which am I more likely to believe? The insight I am gaining based on my connection to senses or an attitude (perspective) entrench deeply in my past belief system?

Where am I going with this?

My perception is hinting that there is something wrong. The world doesn’t quite look right for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on it. Call it the sixth sense-intuition.

I find myself less distracted these days with the luxury of not working. That can be a good thing or a bad thing based on your perception and my perspective. 

How can I change my world if I can’t see it clearly? I know I always have choices. Can I trust perceptions to guide me?

There is a quote that goes something like this…

Either you are the master of your life and decide where you are going or you are controlled by your emotions and life masters you. 

You are what you think. You think then become what you are.

A simple exercise to change your perspective is to lay on your back with your feet placed up a wall. How do you see the world now? Do you perceive a difference? If you are able, do a handstand. When your world is upside down does your perspective alter?

Stay in this position and ask yourself “Do I want to build something different?” If the answer is “Yes” then use perception and perspective to build awareness and discernment.

Ready To Know More

2021 in rear view mirror

I do love a good reflection. It’s even better if I can look back on a year with a sense of satisfaction and contentment. I feel like I am finally becoming me. More than I have ever settled into my core system in my entire adult life.

How did the year start? I was struggling with what to do with myself. I had been given a year’s grace and needed to decide whether I would take and explore “me” or go back into a world of distractions. I chose to take a deep dive into my psyche. I felt the best way to do that was to “get myself to a nunnery”…lol…no but almost. I chose to travel to an ashram on the banks of Kootenay lake in BC Canada. I really had no clue what that might entail. I didn’t know what I would be doing, where I would be staying or what kind of COVID protocols they had embraced. It really didn’t matter to me anymore. I needed change. I needed time and space to sort out what was going on inside my mental state of being.

I had my niece’s son drive me so I had no way of leaving if I found myself not liking the place. I am pretty good at “toughing it out” and completing what I start no matter how uncomfortable it becomes. Somehow, I knew this was going to be the best experience of my life so far and the worst experience of my life so far.  The first two weeks, I was in quarantine in a cabin by the lake. I hadn’t stayed alone for that long ever in my life. I do like my own company so that wasn’t a challenge. I have many hobbies that I had brought with me so settled into a routine of painting, writing music, capturing video footage and editing videos. As the time rolled on, the group I was with were slowly introduced to the community. We were able to work outside with masks on and get to know the daily routine of those that lived there.

Most people that go to the ashram are there to examine their behaviors, thoughts, emotions and core beliefs. It’s a heightened focus on how you integrate yourself into a new village. One where traditions and protocols have been in place for many years. I struggled, at first, with someone telling me when and what to eat, when to sleep, how I needed to contribute to the greater good. I was curious as to what was being triggered for me to feel that way. It was a struggle if I am being honest. I learned that I can be pretty uptight and aggressive. Meditating and doing Hawtha yoga really helped me to “chill out”. The longer I stayed the more free I felt. Which seems so bizarre when you consider most of your days is made up of doing routine and mundane tasks. There is something to knowing that your actions have a direct impact on the sustainment of a community. The food is grown on site, it’s prepared and cooked as needed. If you don’t help clean the plates no one eats. If you don’t help shovel the walks or clean the rooms everyone suffers. The direct link between cause and effect is very apparent in such a place.

I left the ashram with a full heart and a new awareness that has only strengthened as the year progressed. I began to understand relationships I had with my husband, kids and siblings through a new lens. The discernment between selfless service and self gratifying service. My ego was exposed in many ways.

I decided to buy a van after many years of following vanlifers and dreaming about the adventures I could take with it. I love it! I have enjoyed learning new skills. I took a sledgehammer to the inside of it. Replacing everything while trying to keep the old seventies vibe still at its heart. It’s a labor of love and seems to be an ongoing project which I am having fun doing. 

A year later where am I now? I find myself once again at a crossroad. Should I go back to work full time or on contract? Should I pursue more writing opportunities and find ways to make a passive income that helps me to keep my options of traveling open and spontaneous? I have decided to let the universe guide me here as it hasn’t let me down yet. Some offers are percolating so time will tell which direction I go. I am grateful to be in a position where I can choose my adventure. I have discovered that I really liked what I did for a living and hope to continue to find projects that have meaning and connect with many diverse perspectives along the way. I am passionate and curious about the world and how we learn to navigate it. I am grateful for all of you who continue to support us at Midlifearises. 

Namaste

The Elephant In The Room

I have an affinity for elephants. I always thought they were kindred spirits of mine. I am taking a Kundalini class and tonight we explored the tools and symbolism of the First Cakra.

Some of the questions asked are “What is the foundation I stand on and what needs to be updated within that foundation?”

I was sure my foundation is based on well fitted and firmly placed footings. As I learn and explore the world I created for myself I feel that I am in a pretty good place. 

What I didn’t suspect was the fissures running through the support structure.

Is my foundation built on decisions made out of a sense of fear? Fear of not belonging, fear of not measuring up, fear of financial hardships, fear of becoming my parents?

I know I have to consider fear when making life decisions. How can you not? It’s alway present and causes a bit of anxiety for us all. Has it interfered with my path? I would be lying if I said it hasn’t at all.

What tools in the First Cakra can help with fear? The Child Brahma makes the gesture that all fear will be dispelled. I have to set the intent with sincerity and humility. I can practice that. I gaze upon the goddess Satki Dakini. She holds a spear in one of her hands. What animals dwell within me that need spearing? Do I operate with instinct or awareness? The mastering of hitting the target comes with practice and skill development. The basics are here to renovate my foundational core. I can use the staff to help me clear my cluttered mind. Fear lingers in the monkey chatter and tends to obscure my ability to see things through an unfettered perspective. What is true and what is false? What is still distracting me from my purpose and the goals I have set out for myself?

How do I move out from a platform of fear?

I must start where I am instead of where I think I should be. I am encouraged to move slowly with purpose and discrimination. This reminds me of the purpose of silent retreats. When you remove a sense the others are heightened. In this case, not all sound is removed but a significant portion of physical chatter. The art is in quieting the inner chatter while dismissing the need for outer voice.

I glance once again at the First Cakra. The Elephant of Indra draws attention and I smile at the instant analogy of “The elephant in the room”. What does my elephant look like? I do feel clumsy sometimes when I try to meditate or do some of the yoga poses. I wasn’t born very graceful I am afraid. Yet, that isn’t really the purpose of the poses. It’s the connection to the mind and body that counts. Do my preconceived ideas about how I am supposed to look while doing yoga hinder my progress? I would have to answer that sometimes it does. I have proven to myself that I am strong and able to overcome many challenges in life. Like the elephant though, I am stubborn and sometimes hold onto hurts that hinder my ability to heal completely. My words sometimes are clumsy lacking the clarity of intent. I have worked on getting better at choosing my words if they are needed at all and when the right time appears to share them with others. Saving your words and choosing to listen with silence, even in the mind, is truly a remarkable skill to fine tune.

Once in a while, in meditation, I reach a level of complete silence. It is a blissful moment when all noise is gone and the cosmic voice can be heard. The vibration generated is like Prana.

Tadasana, I Am Firm, I Am Still

Me in the desert of the Atlas Mountains in Morroco.

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, focusing inward on the spot between your brows. Spine erect while you line up your vertebrae one plate at a time until you come back to the space occupied by your third eye. Hands lay open at your sides, palms face forward inviting the light and energy to merge with you. 

Can you calm the mind long enough to feel the ascent into the clouds? As I do the pose I have help. I am listening to the mantra Hari Om on repeat. It helps with the concentration and release of tension. My body is eager to move. The stance triggers a memory response to start sun salutation flows, plank, cobra and downward facing dog. I resist a bit longer and focus on my breath.

Can I become a mountain? Do I desire to voluntarily stay put? Hmmm

Do mountains move ever? Of course they do. History is full of geological graphs showing the migration of large masses of rock from one location to another quite far away.

As I stand in mountain pose I sense the rock chips breaking away subtle at first then becoming more frequent. Thoughts collect to form solid matter and I think I can find stable ground and stance that will connect me to the earth beneath my feet. Can I sort through the rubble enough to arrange the scattered material into a foundation then add enough mortar to keep it stuck together?

What makes the mass crumble? I have watched avalanches from a safe distance, even seen some snow slides too close for comfort. I have been in flash floods that have moved the rocks beneath my feet on mountain sides and tested my skills to find purchase on a loose shale path. It’s a slippery slope when the material under your feet isn’t stable. I have fallen, even hurt myself and yet I am still willing and able to go back up and try again. I am determined or maybe just stubborn…lol.

Being a mountain can be a lonely choice of states. You may be part of a family of like minds such as a rocky range that traverses as far as the eye can see or you may have to stand out alone. Other beings depend on you for their existence and shelter. You can be covered in stuff put their by others such as plants and animals or thoughts and ideals you don’t own. Liquid flows around you, through you and sometimes even breaks you in half. It’s good to note the most harmless things like water can erode your foundations over time and yet is essential to yours and others existence. What comes to erode you that you may want to divert or eliminate? What helps you to grow strong and healthy be it mineral or mentally?

I hold the pose a bit longer. What am I trying to avoid facing by moving on or away from this place of stability and solitude? I do have an insistent desire to take flight, go anywhere most of the time. To keep moving. While in the pose I do feel a sense of calmness that replaces the anxiety.

Do I like being alone? I don’t hate it. I get my energy from the time spent in my own company doing things I love to do or doing nothing but standing on a mountain in Mountain Pose. We are made of compressed things forced together over time. The matter that forms us. Sound familiar? We have more in common with mountain masses than you may think. Sometimes we find ourselves up high on a ledge wondering how we got this point without awareness? At the peak we need to decide which directions to go from there. Often we get to the top of our goals only to discover that all we have reached are plateaus or a false summit. Just a ladder top that you can see multiple ladders in the distance waiting for you to discover their existence. Are they worth dying on or are we missing the point of the climb?

My mind wanders as I hold the pose a bit longer. My eyes are closed and my breathing has become deep and peaceful. I am sinking further into the mist. A vision pops up in my head, at first I brush it away then decide to let it come. 

I am back in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. I have awoken to the sound of the wind whipping through our tent. My bed is right by the door which is now ajar. It’s not quite morning but I am awake so I decide to get up and make my way towards the dunes. The predawn shed enough light for me to find my way. I pass the camels that have been hobbled in between the sand hills and push upward to the top of a rocky peak. I look out over the range and decide this must be what they mean by the place that heaven meets the earth.

I can see myself standing there in Mountain Pose. I can sense the pressure changing as the sky starts to illuminate. I have chosen an elevated spot to witness the beauty of the day as it begins.

I feel extremely connected to the universe when I occupy the mountain pose. I wonder why that is and then seem to understand the connection. The quiet solitude that comes from the stance. The sense of peering outward while planted on top of the world. Connected to everything yet a recognition of being alone.

Namaste

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

I don’t alway get the answers I want but I do get the answer I need….

I have spent most of my adult life in a profession where it was my job to translate the needs, feelings and wants of others into easy to do actions. Help customers to first, identify what it was they really wanted and then guide them to fruition. I would like to say I was pretty good at it. I had a pretty loyal clientele and many happy business partners and collaborators. It worked in my personal life too. I helped family and friends many times to figure out tricky situations while we worked through possible solutions. I listened. I watched for clues for unexpressed feelings of what else might be going on under the radar. I think I am pretty empathic and intuitive most times when it comes to helping others.

Despite all of this knowledge, understanding of others and the ability to help others figure out their best way forward, I find myself stuck in my own cycle of failure to communicate. It’s very difficult for me to express how I feel and stick with it when others challenge my position.

I remember as a child of about 11 trying to stop my dad from belittling my mom. I saw how much it hurt her. I thought if she can’t stick up for herself then I will. I will tell him it’s not nice to talk like that to anyone.  I was met with an indifference. From my dad I expected it but I was shattered to feel it from my mom. She played down the verbal abuse and agreed with my dad that adults fight. It’s healthy to argue. Maybe so and yet the difference is in the words used. Calling someone stupid or lacking the ability to think for themselves is unproductive nor is it healthy. Years of reinforcing the narrative leave the psyche tattered and worn down. Having a front row seat has left me with my own trauma and scars.

It has also left me with an inability to trust my feelings. To be firm on my wants and the confidence to express them to those closest to me. Why is it so easy to facilitate for others and not myself? I have a narrative in my head that is pretty negative. It goes along the lines of “you should put others’ needs before yours as they are more important”. “You don’t deserve this or you are selfish when you push your desires on others”. I recognize that it’s ok to express yourself and want to have others respect and value you. The reality is the thoughts in my head are sometimes stronger than my desire to be right or even heard let alone take a firm position.

My sister and I decided to smudge ourselves yesterday then do a tarot reading. Smudging helps to clear the air with sage and then invite positive energy in with sweetgrass. It feels amazing and helps to get specific about your question and deepen understanding. The method we used is one of my favorites. It’s called the Celtic Cross ( my version). You arrange the cards in a cross-like formation with concerns and clarification(middle), past (left), present (top), future (right) and additional clarification or insights (bottom). The deck we used was the Archangel one my sister had. 

My last card was the Ace of Michael. What stuck with me was the last sentence on the card. “Clear up communication problems with others”. Well darn, it’s not like I haven’t been trying that my whole life sigh… easier said than done for me apparently.  

At what point do you just express yourself and then let the chips fall where they may. The key, I think, is to be prepared for the consequences of your desire to be heard and seen. You may get the words out but there is no guarantee they will be valued or wanted. What are you prepared to give up in order to live your life authentically?

Right now? I am not sure. Stay tuned if you are interested in helping me discover a way to communicate that brings me peace and a sense of well being.

It Starts With Training The Roots

Ficus Ginseng Tree age unknown

In bonsai training you become very familiar with the roots of the tree. Some you expose for their uniqueness while others you trim to preserve the strength of the trunk. Obstacles are purposely placed in the path to create a curve or change in direction. Something that seems so random and unplanned is meticulously cultivated and encouraged. 

Bonsai training is not for someone who lacks perseverance as the tiny trees take years if not decades to mature into their full potential. 

What is at my roots? How well do I know my truths about myself? I can identify when I am being manipulated and obstacles have been placed to encourage me in a different direction. I am learning to overcome my fears. To face them and expose their weakness while I seek ways to improve their core stability.

The exposed roots of the bonsai make the tree special and most often extraordinary. I marvel at their design. As I explore the craft I am humbled by the sheer patience and will power  it takes to bend a tree in a desired shape without breaking its branches and killing its roots. All done with a vision in mind that will take many years to reap the reward.

It takes balance and rebalance. Looking ahead to a desired state while being willing to work with what you currently have.  I find this true for me also. My bending is stiff sometimes and takes quite a bit of coaxing to point me in the right way. I need support wires sometimes to help me over the hurdles while I get used to my new awareness and state of being.

Understanding your core roots can help you to sort out which ones to keep and which ones should be cut to improve the situation. To maintain a healthy body and mind, training is necessary. I am always learning something new about myself and testing my abilities to flex and bend. I hope it doesn’t take me decades to mature into my best representation of me. If it does, then that is what is meant to be.

The road to enlightenment is not a straight line. Just like the bonsai, the more you twist and change directions, the more understanding comes to you. The narls, wounds, blemishes that are collected along the way make you uniquely you.

Live Simply

Too much luxury hinders your practice- Dipa Ma

A year ago, about this time, Sharon and I were clearing our spaces. Purging emotional and physical items that kept progress forward from fully being realized.

Now? Well it’s a marathon not a 100 yard dash. What took years to build up isn’t knocked down in one day or one year.

What I have come to terms with is I am happiest when life is simple. I get anxious and stressed out when I let things build up or become tangled. Then, by habit, I have to stop and work out the knots that I created. I wish my learning curve would speed up in this area. In a way I guess it has as I do recognize the behavior and can see where the path is going before it gets too close to the edge. I used to panic and put my foot on the throttle instead of the brake. 

What am I doing? Where is my balance? How did my simple plans become once again so complicated?

I haven’t been practicing my yoga lessons lately. Too caught up in renovating the van and getting it road ready so I could experience some adventures before winter hit. I have a tendency to rush ahead and steam roll over everything that doesn’t factor into my current project or focus. I am not a great multi-tasker. I already admitted that. I am, though, an addicted finisher. I need the check mark in order to feel complete. Ironically buying a van doesn’t really mesh with having a clearly defined end mark. There will always be something more to do.

I am in need of structured practice to keep me sane and grounded. I know this, hence finding myself in an Ashram for months. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me the length of time it takes to settle down. To become calm enough to accept my current state of chaos and to work through the process of owning the part I play in its creation. We create our world and invite the characters to enter and exit. We do this consciously or unconsciously. 

I wonder why simplicity helps so much with keeping peace in my head? I can guess. I think it has to do with non-attachment. Things, possessions and ownership bombarded us daily. Everywhere you turn someone is telling you that you need this product or process to feel good about yourself or to be valued in society. What if you don’t? What if you were both with value by just being a human being? Your contributions are a gift. Your essence is meant to enhance the experience of all you connect with be it animal, mineral or spirit. Is the meaning to life that simple?

The older I get the more I think it is. All the worrying about money, assets and stature have amounted to a life full of chasing others imprinted priorities. Shedding those layers has shown me a different way to live, learn and embrace my existence. 

I was most peaceful in my life when I lived in a room that was 6 feet wide and 12 feet long at the ashram. I had my instruments, food, shelter, a purpose and a desire to create. I am not sure I want to go back to that room. I am sure though that I learned valuable lessons about myself while living there I need to hang on to.

About Face

A few weeks ago, my sister in law notified me that my face showed up on a Facebook page with someone asking if anyone could identify this person. My image was found on a cell phone I had lost on the summit of Mount Ward in the Crowsnest Pass. It was amazing that they had found the phone as I had lost it descending down on my butt over a mountain side of scree. Here is the remarkable part. I was up there in August of 2019. That’s over 3 years ago. Think back how much has changed in the last 3 years. For me? I lost my mom, I lost my job, COVID happened and I almost lost my sense of self.

As I look at the face staring out from the phone that shouldn’t be working, let alone sporting my face on the cover, I marvel at our ability for resilience. That woman captured is me but yet, is not me. She is restless and ready for change. She is tired and grieving over so much loss in the last few years. She is there with her two great nieces enjoying a warm summer day doing what she loves to do. Exploring uncharted territory and pushing herself to go further and harder.

Phone still works after 3 years!

Sometimes I am not sure where the strength comes from. It just appears and I am always grateful to the universe for providing it to me. I sat on the top of the summit enjoying the sun and view as the girls explored further up and around. I saw 3 crows in the distance. They were making a big racket and circling overhead. I watched them for a bit then noticed behind them that some big dark rain clouds were starting to form. Anyone who has been hiking in the mountains knows to start down when that happens. Hopefully you can outrun the storm, most often I am not that lucky. I was about to holler for the girls to come and they appeared ready to head out. I happened to look down and found the most unique rock I had ever seen. I had been thinking about the crows and their warning that the weather was about to change. The rock appeared to have a crow flying over the mountains on it. It was pale yellow with a black image of a crow. I picked it up and put it in my backpack. In hindsight, I wish I would have done the same thing to my phone which I placed in my coat pocket tied around my waist.

As the clouds got darker, we started to slide down on our backsides. It was treacherous and slow going. Over half way down I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore. There was no way I could go back up and try and find it. We had been zigzagging and moving over a large space of rock and debri. It could have been anywhere. Like a needle in a haystack. I resigned myself to either come back a different day or say “goodbye” to the pictures from that day.

I got a new phone and reclaimed quite a bit of my pictures, chats and music as I usually back up stuff to the cloud. I was missing the photos we had taken that day which was too bad. When I reloaded my messenger chats I was heartbroken to see my conversation with my sister who had passed away in 2016 wasn’t coming back up. It took some letting go to say “goodbye” to the conversation I had treasured.

Time goes by and I have had 3 phones since then. Every once in a while I would think about the phone and wonder if it was still alive. What view it had looking out over the barren terrain. Saying good morning to the crows and other creatures who passed by. My face is smiling out on that mountain side I thought. Never did I think it still worked after all that time.

I have been in contact with the mother of the guy who found it and will go pick it up some time soon. She said that several people had recognized the woman in the photo and let her know the phone belonged to me. The hat I am wearing I have taken on so many adventures. It’s kind of my signature look for exploring…lol.

Thinking about the phone and it’s adventures, I happened to glance through my messenger chats. I was drawn to the one with my sister, hoping that for some miraculous reason the conversation would reappear after all this time. I was amazed to see that it had. Everything was there again. My history with my sister has come back to me now. Years and years of conversation came tumbling down the mountain side to land at my feet.

Why now? So much has happened since 2016. I thought that was my low point but it wasn’t. Both of my parents died in the years after my sister’s passing. Despite all of the pain, grief and loss, I feel more alive today than ever before. I am living life on my terms in my own way. Choosing my adventures, love, spiritual paths and sense of self.

I am awake. I have lived many lives since I lost that phone. I am grateful for it’s reappearance to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Once again the energy shifts and tilts the balance back.

I have a desire to put the phone back on the mountain. 

Stay tuned to see what I decide….lol

Love you all that keep reading our posts and coming along on our journeys through midlife.

Light and love.

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