Perception. It’s a curious thing.

Recently I said to my seventeen year-old stepdaughter, “Don’t believe everything you think.” She looked at me with confusion and disbelief. At seventeen years old, her thoughts are her reality.

We need to be careful about assuming the truth of our thoughts. Largely, we don’t have the capacity to perceive the totality of existence. We tend to perceive through our unique mental filters that are created by layers of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, concepts, and resultant understanding. Moment to moment, our life experience—experienced largely through our mental filters—leads to feelings, thoughts,  beliefs, concepts, and our resultant understanding (or misunderstanding) of the world around us. Layers upon layers of this become the filters through which we perceive future experiences. The filters are personal, social, and cultural. They’re all in there. And they’re handed down generationally. They layer one on top of the other until our reality is defined and colored through a limited understanding based on having traveled through all of these mental filters. Our perception of and response to life situations are largely determined by this. Our perception becomes our reality.

These filters limit our capacity to experience the fresh vibrancy of the actual present moment—that is actually all that ever exists—and the infinite fluid possibility within it. Our experience is shaped by these filters that can prohibit us from experiencing much greater truths than “what we think.” It takes a courageous & persistent heart and mind, massive self-love, and vulnerability to stay open to the possibility of a bigger reality (ultimately to become it)—one that cannot be understood or reached through the intellect. One that can only be experienced, and only if the filters we’ve accumulated are allowed to deconcretize, to soften, to become porous. Letting go of our crystallized fixed perception of how things are, assuming the beginner “I don’t know everything” mind, is a great first step. Bring awareness to what you think—how you perceive and respond to events and people. Notice patterns.

We only see what we’re able to see. If we walk around wearing headlamps (that shine through our limited conceptual understanding based on layers of filters) we see what we look at with this headlamp only. If one were to suddenly turn on the light in the room, a much bigger picture of ALL-OF-IT might be revealed. Just like walking out of the underbrush in a forest, climbing a mountain, and suddenly realizing a much greater, vaster landscape than we’d previously realized while hanging out in the underbrush.

 If we begin to relax some of these crystallized notions of reality, these crystallized assumptions of “I know” and "that's how it is", we just might experience more of the divinely present moment, rife with its exquisite outrageousness. We might just leave the top of the mountain and approach the farthest reaches of an eternity that is continually giving birth to itself within us. We might just make contact with that divinity in ourselves and in everyone else. We might just realize there is actually no such thing as self and other (or self and anything else for that matter)—that that too is a limited understanding based on concepts that have become crystallized into reality. Subtler truths might just arise as insights from an unspeakably beautiful place, a place less burdened by layers of filters. Open up to the possibility of that. This existence is a miraculous gift. This life can be insanely beautiful. You are the healer that you seek. All it takes is redirecting that sacred awareness inside, and paying attention. And not assuming that it was ever meant to be easy.