One of the most valuable lessons that yoga can teach us is to observe our reactions to the world. When we practice, we pay attention to our breath, we are aware of physical sensations in the body, we notice our emotions and we watch our thoughts leaping and dancing about in the mind.
In the watching, we begin to see space between thought and action. We begin to understand that we can choose our action. This gift of yoga could lead to the single biggest leap in evolution we could next make as a species.
What is this giant leap?
It is to move from our current ‘objective reality paradigm’ to a ‘subjective reality paradigm’. It’s not just yogis that are grasping this nature of our reality either. Those who are working in the fields of self development and consciousness raising are also moving towards this shift. But many of the people on the planet have never considered the idea that the way in which we perceive reality is fundamentally false.
Objective reality holds that there is only ONE way of perceiving any event or person, and that therefore when two people disagree over what they perceive, one of them must be wrong, and the other right.
Subjective reality however allows that each of us will perceive events and people through our own particular ‘lens’, and when faced with two divergent reports of the same event, that both are correct.
Let’s say a millionaire finds $10 on the ground. He’ll probably pick it up, but it’s unlikely to register much excitement in his day.
But what if a 10 year old kid with a mother on welfare picks up that same $10 – his perception of finding the money will be wildly different. The kid would be over the moon.
The event is the same – $10 is found, the reaction is completely different. This is subjective reality – and we’re living in it right now.
Here’s another example. Under an objective reality model, a motorist who is consumed with anger when faced with a dithering driver in front of him seeks to change the situation causing him distress – he wants the driver off the road, he wants laws introduced to ban slow drivers, he wants to yell and scream.
Under a subjective reality model, a motorist might still be consumed with anger by a dithering driver – but instead of seeking to blame and control the external – i.e. the other driver – the motorist knows that in order to change the situation and not experience the road rage, it is himself he must change.
Of course this is hard work, and not nearly as much fun as yelling and screaming at other drivers. But this is the beauty of subjective reality and the beauty of the life that we are living now – we choose everything we experience.
Anything that you don’t like is yours to change – but you must do the hard work on yourself.
Your thoughts really do create your world.
To must of us this sounds absurd – “I didn’t think up that dithering driver,” the motorist says.
And no, you didn’t.
But you did think up your REACTION to the dithering driver.
Over that you have total control.
And when you chose what to think about a situation, you create your reality.
Either a nice peaceful drive home.
Or a stressed out raged filled one.
It’s your choice. And the beauty of yoga practice is that you literally get to practice this choice over and over on the mat.
But be warned, this is a much over-simplified account of subjective reality. We can’t control our thoughts as such, they float up unbidden in our mind and overflow most of the time – but we can start to train the mind and we do have a choice of whether or not we react to our thoughts. The real gem of understanding that reality is subjective is that it hands you the biggest self-development tool ever – your behaviour.
See, when you observe your thoughts about a situation, you can then ask WHY you think that. And if you don’t want to think those thoughts any more, or have those reactions, then change the underlying WHY.
It’s kinda like watching daffodils growing in your garden and asking why? Well, you planted daffodil bulbs. If you don’t want the daffodils, it’s no use cutting off the flowers, as come next spring, the bulbs will grow those same yellow flowers. No, if you want to change the flowers you must pull out the bulbs and plant new seeds. This means that if you want to react differently to a situation, you must find the underlying belief that causes that reaction, yank it out by the root, and plant a new belief deep inside that creates the reactions you want.
And this takes work.
It means paying attention to Yourself. Observing, watching, listening and taking note. It means accepting nothing about yourself as set in stone and asking why all the time. This gives you the freedom to change your beliefs about “how things are” if those beliefs are not working for you anymore.
And when your beliefs change, those bulbs buried deep in the ground, then your reality changes, and suddenly it’s no longer yellow flowers you’re experiencing in your garden, but maybe red ones, or maybe even big green trees 🙂
This is the power of understanding that we live in a world of subjective reality. Subjective reality hands us the power to create ourselves, and the power to create our worlds.
So if you find that you are constantly upset about the way the world is then it is time to join the evolution. Step onto the path of self-discovery, shift to a subjective model of reality, and take responsibility for all that you create in this world.
As Gandhi said:
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
And the time was never more right than it is RIGHT now.