Today I heard on the radio that we have a "perception gap" problem in America...
And that social media is only furthering this divide.
I rarely turn on the radio. It rattles my system in a way that I dislike. So I tune out most of the time, and tune in only to stay informed.
But this is something I could have told you.
What we have lost in the social media shuffle is the ability to see the HUMAN in front of us. We read posts, political views, lifestyles, opinions, and we make judgments. We judge that person as "other" and then when we [wrongly] perceive that person as "extremely other" we tend to become hostile towards them.
We react, rather than respond.
And our world moves so quickly. We are so externally focused. We forget that we ourselves are HUMAN, just like that “other” we are looking at.
And actually, this is the result of being unaware that the way we (you, I) see the world is a combination of our perception of it, which is based on our own unique lifetime of experience, then a projection onto the human in front of us to try to interpret their experience.
Actually, a humanly impossible task to overcome.
It is NOT about “we are all the same” and it is especially not about “we are all one.” These are the lies that common yoga-speak tell you.
As "positive" as they seem, these phrases are a bypass… avoiding what IS for what we believe will make it so we do not have to deal with it.
And avoidance never solved anything!
What IS the same is our essence… we all need to love and feel loved, we all need to feel safe, to have shelter, food and warmth. We all need to have a sense of belonging, of value and worth in this world.
And, we all need to be SEEN and ACKNOWLEDGED for our differences. That my experience of this life, and how I engage with it, is different than yours. We both ride a roller coaster, and yet one of us screams in terror while the other screams in joy. Same experience, different way of engaging with it, and different experience of it. And then, one says to the other, "Wasn't that awesome?!?!" We engage through perception and projection. And that is the only way we can understand each other. I understand you from a combination of my perception of reality, and then I project that onto you to try to understand you. And though I try my best, I will never fully understand, know, you. You will never fully understand, know, me.
So what do we do? How do we engage with others?
We practice, learn, develop tools to BE with what IS in each moment. To come to this present moment with as much clarity and neutrality… yes, the blank slate or empty cup analogy… as we can. And doing so allows each of us to remain open, curious, interested, and in wonderment of what is happening as we bump shoulders with another human.
We learn that past is a story that we carry into the present moment. We we develop the tools to discern what in this moment is happening vs what in this moment is from past, and we put them into practice in life. So, what do I need right now, to BE in this moment with what IS?
I need to get present to myself. First. I need to get quiet. First. To shift from reaction into response. This allows me to see the HUMAN in front of me, acknowledging there is a lifetime of experiences that they have had that I will never know. So that I am better able to BE with that person as they show up right now.
And this is why YOGA, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy that I practice, can be a means to cultivating the tools so that we can create a world where we can do just this. So that we can engage with life, and with others, better. So we can respond and not react. Live. Life. Better.
When we can do this, we become better able to see, to sense, to listen. Our world needs this now. And it is up to you, to me, to do the work. Because you are reading this, you are ready. Be that difference. Be the one that closes the "perception gap." Because, the gap was never there to begin with. It is the illusion created by people in reaction to others. The illusion created by fear of the other. And we are all so much stronger than fear.
Kristen is a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist and Life Mentor. She offers online and in-person healing sessions. She lives and teaches in Denver, Colorado