Tag: beliefs

Meditation on Fear: Fear is Optional

Meditation on Fear: Fear is Optional

1. Fear is optional. While fear may be quite real in our lives, there is a state that is free from fear and it is possible to achieve it. Since there are two possible states – one with fear and one without it – we have a choice, but this choice is only available to us when we have the wisdom and insight to see it.

2. Fear is mental. While pain may be unavoidable in our physical body, we do have a choice not to be fearful of it. As a doctor, I have seen patients who experience similar bodily pain, yet one may suffer more than the other. The one who suffers more is the one whose mind is totally absorbed in the pain, creating stories around it and embellishing it with all kinds of fear.

3. Fear is an error in thinking. It arises out of a wrong view, belief, perception or thought. When our thought departs from reality (from what is) or when we want things to be other than what is, then we become fearful.

4. Resisting reality is futile. No matter how hard we try to resist reality or want things to be other than what is, we will fail and suffer for it. The more we resist, the more we suffer as we are going against the flow of what is.

5. We resist out of ignorance. We believe the story we have created around our experience. We do not realize that our views are wrong. In truth, no belief is true. No perception is real.

6. A belief is merely a perception of reality. We must realize that our perception has severe limitations. There are at least 3 ways our perceptions are limited.

  • We are first limited by the limitations of our sense organs. We can see light only between a specific range of wavelengths but unable to perceive those beyond this range. Further, our eye structure allows us to see an image that is different from the compound eyes of a fly. Our other sense organs are similarly limited.
  • Secondly we are limited by our perspective. We can see things only from a specific point of reference, very much like the story of the blind men and the elephant.
  • Lastly, we see things through our own filters. These filters are our mental prejudices, concepts, assumptions, beliefs, experiences and ideas. It is like a camera catching a shot through a certain filter, changing its original colour. With so many limitations to our perceptions, how can we be absolutely sure that our perception is true? Is it not more likely wrong?

7. We are deceived by our thinking mind. Our thinking mind is coloured by our ego or self. It’s rich with its own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, concepts, desires and expectations. Ultimately, our thinking mind itself is limiting our life experience. It locks us into a self created reality, a world of our own creation – an illusion of reality.

8. We can live intuitively beyond the ego-mind. Beyond this thinking mind is another that serves us intuitively. It has the ability to dip into the all-knowing, all-pervading universal mind. It is free from judgment and prejudices, and is therefore free from error.

9. There is no fear in this mind. Living like the lotus is then possible – to be in this world but not of this world. We can then live in this physical mundane world and still not be afflicted by it.

Where you find fear, there you will find a wrong belief.

Using Mindfulness for Personal Transformation

Using Mindfulness for Personal Transformation

What is mindfulness?  

According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-reactively, to the unfolding of our experience moment to moment. Mindfulness is done purposefully, with a conscious decision, to be aware of our present experience. It is also done non-judgmentally, non-reactively. This means we merely watch the unfolding of our experience. We do not add on to the unfolding experience with our habits of dramatization, exaggeration and fantasy.  

Dr. Gordon Coates in New Zealand has a simpler definition for mindfulness. To him, mindfulness is the constant, non-judgmental awareness of our body, feelings and thoughts. 

Two Layers of Reality

Mindfulness practice helps us to unclutter our mind. To be more specific, mindfulness helps us to unclutter the content of our mind.  

It helps us to see that there is a layer of reality that we are experiencing, and then, there is another layer of reality that we have added to the first layer. This second layer is the result of our mental habits, our conditioned mind. Our everyday mind has the habit of adding to the first layer of real experience through dramatizing and exaggeration – habits that come from our conditioned mind.  

The problem is that we get lost in the drama of our own creation without even being aware of our own role in creating it. With practice, as our mind watch purposefully and mindfully, we begin to see these two layers of reality. We begin to understand our own role in creating and maintaining these fantasies in our life. Our joy and our pain are all our own creation. 

What mindfulness is not

Mindfulness practice is not about the thoughts. It is not really about the content of your thinking. It is more useful to understand your own thinking process – how your thoughts come about, and more importantly, how you react to those thoughts. With enough practice, you will soon realize that you do not have to believe in those thoughts. And once you stop believing in them, they no longer hold any power over you.  

Mindfulness is also not about not thinking. We are not asking you to stop thinking. It is not necessary to do that. All you need to do is to train yourself to become more aware of your thoughts and your reactions towards them. Understanding and insights will come gradually.  

Mindfulness practice is not a mean to escape from reality. In fact, when done properly, you actually train yourself to see things as they really are – free from your own drama.  

Mindfulness is about attention and focus, but it is not just about attention. It is also about awareness.  

Mindfulness is not about getting rid of unpleasant thoughts and emotions. It is more about understanding your unpleasant thoughts and emotions, how they arise, and how you react to them. 

 Lastly, mindfulness is not Buddhism. It is not religious. It is a mental practice, a mental skill, that anyone can acquire, learn and master.  

Looking inward for personal change

So, with mindfulness practice, you learn to look inward to your own body, feelings and thoughts. You learn to be more aware of them in a way that is non-judging. You train yourself to merely watch them as they unfold in your experience. In this way, you are able to now differentiate facts from fictions that you have created. You learn to see things as they really are, and this leads to insights and self-understanding. 

As you learn to become more mindful, there will be some useful insights rising in your experience. You will realize that your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. This is an important insight. It means that if you can train yourself to focus only on the positive, you can free your mind, and therefore yourself, from the sufferings and pain that follow negative thoughts.  

You will also learn that whenever your mind wanders to the future or to the past, you can always bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your body, or body sensation. Why? Because your body is always in the present. It does not exist in the past or in the future. So, this is a neat trick to easily bring your mind back to the present moment.  

You will also observe that there are actually two types of feelings or sensation – one arising from the body, and another arising from our thoughts. Unpleasant, and even painful sensation from our body may be inevitable. However, mental suffering from our thoughts is optional, meaning that we do not really have to create that mental pain once we can master our thoughts. When we are unaware of this fact, we often have no choice but to suffer both physical as well as mental pain. Once we know this, however, we do have a choice. We can learn to endure or tolerate physical pain without dramatizing or exaggerating the pain with our thoughts – a habit we often inflict on ourselves without realizing.  

Common Mental Habits

The more we learn mindfulness, the more we begin to understand ourselves and our mental habits.  

For example, we realize that we pay too much attention to what is happening outside of us, and not paying enough attention to what is happening inside of us. And we learn that paying attention to what is happening inside of us offers us more insight and self-understanding.  

We also notice how we often personalize experiences, meaning we misinterpret experience to be about us even when they are not necessarily so.  

We also make a lot of assumptions and jump to conclusions without verifying the facts. We are often not able to differentiate facts from fictions we have created ourselves. Our mind also has the tendency to focus on the negative, rather than the positive, and is often judging, criticizing, belittling and blaming – ourselves and others.  

We make a lot of generalization that may not be true. Our mind has the tendency to proliferate, fantasize, dramatize and exaggerate things. It also has the habit of looking into the past or the future, rather than staying with the present moment.  

Mindfulness is a potent tool for personal transformation

So, we can see here that mindfulness is a potent tool for self-understanding. With mindfulness, we become more aware of our own mental habits and beliefs, many of which are no longer serving our present needs. This awareness allows us to change ourselves, our mental habits and our beliefs.  

We can also use our emotions as windows into our own inner processes. However, be aware that looking inward is a journey for the brave. It requires us to adopt the policy of being honest with ourselves. We must learn to accept 100% responsibility for our own life. Although this journey of personal transformation may be full of challenges and difficulties, it is still a journey worth taking as we are likely to come out stronger and better in the end.  

As Sun Tze used to say – Know thyself. Know thy enemies. In a thousand battles, win a thousand victories. In this case, the enemies that we need to confront is not outside of us. Rather, they are our own inner limiting beliefs and mental habits that are no longer serving us well.  

Mindfulness is therefore an essential tool for personal transformation. 

The Power of Beliefs

The Power of Beliefs

What are beliefs? 

A belief is merely a perception of reality. This perception may or may not be accurate. Nevertheless, we believe it to be true.  

Knowing something to be true is different from believing that something is true. In knowing, we have either seen the truth for ourselves, or we have strong evidence to support our conclusion that it is true. 

With beliefs, there may not be a knowing of truth, or any evidence to support our conclusion that it is true. We merely believe that it is so. 

However, a belief is not to be trifled with. Beliefs are almost always associated with, or invested with, strong emotions. That is why it can be difficult to get someone to change their beliefs. When their beliefs are challenged, their automatic reaction is to resist or push back. This may manifest in the form of anger or outright confrontation. 

Beliefs are also very powerful. Once you believed in something, you create a potential for it to become true to you. Acting on this belief validates it, and gives you the corresponding results that is congruent with your belief.  

The positive power of beliefs can be seen in spontaneous healing. The negative power of beliefs can be seen in all the fanatics in religions that end up as suicide bombers, murderers and manipulators.  

How do we form our beliefs? 

We form beliefs in two ways.  

The first way is through the way we interpret our own experience. This, in turn, is dependent on our own attitude towards life and our pre-existing beliefs. Our attitude itself is formed by our pre-existing beliefs. So, we can say that how we interpret our experience is greatly influenced by our pre-existing beliefs. Thus, we form new beliefs on top of old beliefs. Therefore, we have layers upon layers of beliefs, most of which we are not even aware of. They reside in our subconscious mind.  

The second way is when we accept what other people tell us as truth, often without even trying to verify or validate them. From young, we have been conditioned to believe that what our parents tell us are true. Likewise, we believe in those in position of authority, such as teachers, police and religious leaders. So, we automatically believe in whatever they tell us as truth. We do not try to, or even bother to verify them before accepting them as truth. 

This is erroneous on our part. The job of verifying the truth is our responsibility, and we should take it seriously. We should not be so gullible as to believe what people say without verification. 

We should also be careful of manipulators who are good at using words to evoke our deep emotions, and to arouse us to act in their interests. Using the right words that resonate with your beliefs, they can easily lead you by the nose and push you to act in a self-destructive way, and often, by staying out of harm’s way themselves. 

A belief does not have to be true for it to work for you 

 This is important to know – that a belief does not have to be true for it to work for you. In fact, that is why beliefs are so powerful, but used wrongly, they are also extremely destructive. When you truly believe in something, you basically hypnotize yourself with that belief, and live its “truth”, oblivious to reality.  

That is why people who are paranoid can behave in ways that are consistent with their paranoia, and may even resort to harming others in their attempt to protect themselves. Likewise, religious fanatics are willing to blow themselves up or kill others in the name of their beliefs, even when those actions are inconsistent with the real tenets of that religion.  

In a more positive way, a belief can cause spontaneous healing.  

So, be very careful what you choose to believe in. They can make or break you. Be aware of your beliefs.

Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset

Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset

Carol Dweck is a researcher in the field of success psychology for over 30 years and is the author of “Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfill your potential”.

In this book, she put forward the idea that your success in life is not as dependent on your ability and intelligence as it is on the type of mindset you have. In other words, your success in life is dependent more on the way you think and believe about yourself than about your ability and intelligence.

Specifically, she pointed out that there are two very distinctly different mindset, each with its own distinctly different consequences.

TYPES OF MINDSET

The first type is called the Fixed Mindset. A person with this mindset believes that his ability and intelligence are fixed, innate and absolute. He sees a challenge as a test that may potentially expose his lack of ability or intelligence. Thus, he is challenge-shy.

The second type of mindset is called Growth Mindset. A person with this growth mindset sees every challenge as a potential opportunity to learn and improve himself. He does not see his ability and intelligence as something fixed or absolute, but one that can be cultivated and improved upon. Thus, he is not challenge-shy and is thus more resilient than one with a fixed mindset in times of adversity.

PRAISING THE PROCESS VERSUS PRAISING THE ABILITY

One way to cultivate and enhance the growth mindset in others is to praise the process – that is to say, praise their effort and persistence, their strategies and problem solving attitude – when they are given a task or challenge to accomplished.

This is in contrast to praising the ability of the person, as if to validate that his worth is dependent on his ability and intelligence. Praising the ability can sometimes have the negative effect of reducing self-esteem and confidence.

MIXED MINDSETS

A person may have a growth mindset in one area, such as in terms of intelligence, and yet still have a fixed mindset in another area, such as in the way he looks at relationships.

A MINDSET IS A POWERFUL BELIEF

A mindset is simply a belief. It is how you see yourself and the world. It is how you make sense of your experience in the world. It is how you give meaning to your experience.

Like all beliefs, it is not an absolute truth. What is true, is that there are beneficial beliefs and harmful beliefs. So, it is important to be aware of your beliefs and examine them to see if what you believe in is helping you or holding you back from the person you want to become.

Overcoming the fear of aging

Overcoming the fear of aging

Aging, like sickness and death, is part and parcel of life. Everyone who is born must eventually age and die. This is the natural cycle of life. However, not everyone ages in the same way. Some age gracefully. Others age with fear.

Fear is Optional

If you are fearful of aging, you should know that this fear is not inevitable. It is there only because of your own past experiences, your own beliefs and your own attitude towards it. In the end, it is a matter of choice. Aging is inevitable but fear of aging is not. Aging of this body is a physical phenomenon. That is why it is inevitable. Fear, on the other hand, is a mental phenomenon. It is optional.

Identify Your Fears

If you are fearful of aging, you should try to be more specific and identify what it is that you are really fearful of. Generally, those who fear aging are actually fearful of sickness and death. Those who believe that they can age with a healthy and functioning body have little fear of aging. Those who think of the possibility of sickness and death as they age become fearful.

Having identify our specific fears, it then becomes possible to do something about it.

Fear of Sickness

If it is sickness, then we can start to live a healthy lifestyle. It is never too late to start a habit of living healthily. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you drink alcohol, and especially if you drink heavily, then tone it down. Drink less. Scientific studies have actually shown that a small amount of alcohol is good for your physical health but too much is harmful. Sleep early and wake up early. Sleep well. Exercise regularly. Eat healthily. Drink lots of water. Practice yoga or tai chi. Learn to meditate. All these improve the quality of your life, making you healthier mentally, emotionally and physically.

Fear of Death

If your fear is death, then once again you have to be specific. Is it the process of dying that you are afraid of, or is it death itself? If it is the process of dying, then the real fear for most people is actually the fear of a painful dying process. If that is the case, we have good news for you. Science and medicine today have reached a point where we can almost always minimise pain in the dying process. In most cases, we can even totally eradicate pain. However, even without medicine, pain can still be managed well. Physical pain may be inevitable but mental suffering is optional.

The question then is how do we free ourselves from mental suffering in the presence of physical pain? The answer to that is a strong mind. We can train our mind to be strong and resilient. It is a skill, and like all skills, it takes practice. The most common and popular mind training is meditation. So, learn to meditate, and learn it well. Gain mastery over your own mind. Then you will have little to be fearful of.

Fear of the Unknown

Lastly, if it is death itself that you are afraid of, then it is most likely because death is a big unknown. What happens to us after death? This is a spiritual question, and you will need a spiritual answer. It all comes down to your belief system. So, when you talk about death, and especially when you want a solution to this type of fear about death, then you must re-visit your spirituality, and the very nature of who you are.

Are you simply this body or are you more than just this physical body? When you die, is there a part of you that continues on? This is your quest. It is a journey that none can take for you. Only you can do this for yourself.

Identifying Limiting Beliefs through Recurring Patterns

Identifying Limiting Beliefs through Recurring Patterns

One of the most common patterns of behaviour that I encounter is a self sabotaging behaviour towards money.

Diane is a lady in her mid 30’s. She is a very kind hearted woman and enjoys helping people. Despite her good nature and pure intention, she constantly complains that she just can’t seem to prosper, no matter what she does. Every business venture that she tries seems to end in failure.

“I do not cheat and I do not lie to do business, yet I am not able to succeed in whatever I do. Perhaps people like me are just not suited for business,” she says.

And there-in lies her problem!

She believes that business is a “dirty” business and good people cannot therefore succeed in business. Furthermore, she also believes that she should not get rewarded for doing good things for others. So each time she gives a good service to others, she dare not charge them a premium rate. In fact, she frequently undercharged them, sometimes resulting in a loss to herself. On the other hand, when she buys from others, she is afraid that they may not earn enough from her, and so she rarely ever negotiate for a good price for her own purchases.

Little wonder she fails in her businesses!

Once she recognises her self limiting beliefs, she immediately make a conscious effort to change them.

“It’s not easy to change.

There is already a set pattern of behaviour. The old habits I have tried to resist my effort to change. At first, it feels very uncomfortable to do things differently, to behave and respond differently, but after a few times it gets easier.

Learning to negotiate was a new experience for me. There is this constant guilt that arises whenever I start a negotiation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that others seem to accept negotiation as part and parcel of doing business. Some even looked at me with a new respect! Pretty soon, I was trying to negotiate at everything. Of course, I remind myself not to get carried away.”

Dramatic changes sometimes require only a single change in our limiting beliefs.

SELF LIMITING BELIEFS ABOUT MONEY

As mentioned earlier, limiting beliefs about money is one of the most common problems encountered by the masses. Some of these limiting beliefs are:

* Money is the root of all evils
* People who are filthy rich cannot have gotten their wealth legitimately
* Poor is good. It means I am more spiritual
* I don’t deserve to be rich
* When I do good, I shouldn’t asked to be rewarded for my effort
* And many more…

If you have any one of these beliefs, it’s time you recognise them and do something about it. There are many ways to overcome these limiting beliefs and we will touch on them later.

Note: If you’re in a hurry to eliminate your limiting beliefs on money, learn how to do so with Brad Yate’s Money Beyond Belief… The Spiritual Way

How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs

How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs

Beliefs drive attitude and behavior. Self limiting beliefs result in self sabotaging attitudes and behaviors that prevent us from getting what we want in life.

So the first step to self transformation and change must involve a change in our belief system. Without this change, nothing else you do will lead to a permanent change in your life.

However, we acquire most of our beliefs unconsciously. Once accepted and imprinted into our subconscious mind, it takes a conscious effort to remove and replace them with positive life enhancing beliefs. That is the reason why many gurus advocate conscious living.

There are many ways to identify our self limiting beliefs and all require a conscious effort to be mindful of our thoughts, speech and action.

Below is a list of the areas we need to focus on in identifying our self limiting beliefs, beginning with the most obvious problematic area and slowly working towards the more subtle area of the mind.

Recurring problems
Patterns of behavior
Emotion
Speech
Thoughts

RECURRING PROBLEMS

Some people seem to have the unhealthy ability to get into relationships that are obviously going to lead to trouble. For example, there was this lady in her late 20’s who seems to be getting into relationships with older married men over and over again.

As she consciously and mindfully looked into herself, she discovered not one but several beliefs that led to her behavior. She believed…

…that all good men are married
…that mature men are more tender and caring
…that all the young men wanted from her is sex

She further realized that she identifies married men with her father whom she highly respected because he was very loving and caring towards her. He gave her a sense of being loved and protected.

She also realized that her need to feel protected from pain came from several earlier failed relationships with guys of similar age with her in her younger days. Those failed relationships not only gave her a sense of vulnerability but also lowered her self esteem.

After several failures, she believed that she could not establish any meaningful relationships with men of her age. Those failed relationships also led her to her limiting beliefs mentioned above.

Once she recognized her limiting beliefs and where they came from, she can consciously decide to change her beliefs. She learned not to generalize men and instead to treat each person as unique individual, each with his own strengths and weaknesses.

Several months after this, she began a relationship with a single man a few years older than her whom she described as “loving and caring”. He works in the same building but with a different company.

“It’s as if he was there all along but I couldn’t see him because of all the self limiting beliefs I had about men. The moment I change my beliefs, I could see so much more possibilities… and there he was, right under my nose!”

The last I heard, they were happily married.

COURAGE AND TRANSFORMATION

It takes courage to want to change.

Most people prefer being in their own comfort zones, even if they are not happy in them, because they lack the courage to examine themselves. They are afraid of what they might find out about themselves.

All change requires self examination. Many people find it frightening to do that. When you take the courageous step to do that, you’ll find a lot of new possibilities opening up to you. You feel empowered and in control over your life – and that will make all the difference!

Or you can just stay the way you are, joining the mass of men who lives lives of quiet desperation – to borrow a quote from Henry Thoreau. As they say, “Knowledge is NOT power; knowledge AND action is!”

How Beliefs Work

How Beliefs Work

Have you ever bought a car and then all of a sudden you see the same model everywhere on the road? When I first considered setting up my own clinic many years ago, I discovered that all of a sudden there were clinics everywhere I went. There have been there all along but I did not see them until I started to focus my mind on setting up my own clinic. The outer reality has not really changed but what has changed is my inner thoughts and focuses.

Beliefs work the same way.

Once we have decided to take on a belief, most of the time unconsciously, our brain seems to re-configure itself, re-arranging the neural pathways, and we ended up turning our focus on things and events that further validate the belief. We literally attract these things into our lives.

That is why Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Believe it and you will see it” instead of the usual “I’ll believe it when I see it”. He wrote an entire book on this concept.

So when you hold on to a belief of lack or a belief that the universe is hostile, then you will “see” the evidence in your life validating those beliefs. Believe you are not worthy and it is reflected in your low self esteem and other self esteem issues, in the way you avoid relationships or commitments, or in experiencing people in your life who continue to take you for granted or look down on you.

Believe in a benevolent universe and a universe of abundance, and you will begin to see evidence of abundance and generosity, kindness and compassion.

The good news is that you get to choose what you want to believe in.

The bad news is that you can choose your beliefs only if you are highly mindful and aware of your thoughts. This is because beliefs are most often taken in unconsciously and as long as you continue to live your life unconsciously you will continue to take in beliefs without being able to filter them.

Fortunately, there are many ways and tools to remove unwanted life-limiting beliefs and consciously accept life-enhancing beliefs.

Being aware that there is such a possibility is already a step forward. To be able to learn the methods and to apply them in your own life would be truly transformational, and there are many powerful methods to choose from. Look for them and you will find them.