There is a distinction between beliefs, preferences, and thoughts. Thoughts flow through the mind unencumbered when we don’t resist them, they don’t disturb us, and they don’t leave a mark.We only resist them when we have a belief about them. Preferences are lightly held desires or opinions, they are released when they are satisfied, or put aside when they are unattainable, they don’t leave a residue.
Beliefs come with tension, limitations, separation and suffering. We accept them as true; we justify them with other beliefs, and use them to distinguish ourselves from others. We build our identity with our beliefs, and then defend and protect it. Beliefs are sticky, and dense, and they do leave a mark.As I sit here my head feels open, thoughts are flowing, I hardly notice most of them, they are not sticking, the ones I write are released through my fingers, then they are gone. As I write about beliefs my attention begins looking through the mind, searching for something that feels more solid, dense, tight. I can’t find anything. This doesn’t mean that I won’t find more beliefs at another time, but for now the mind is empty.
I know beliefs feel solid, dense and tight, because I have had so many, and have worked hard at releasing many of them, others I have watched dissolve, and others I only noticed in retrospect when they were gone.When I was younger I had the belief that I was not very smart. The result was that I pretended to be smart, and felt ashamed, self-conscious, and like a fraud. I had to get a PhD to prove to myself and others that I was smart. This belief prevented me from sharing my thoughts is writing. It felt like a slight heaviness, in my body, tightness in my mind, and fear and sadness in my heart. It made me feel a little dull and dark inside.
No matter how hard I tried to shake it off, it wouldn’t come loose. I investigated where the belief came from. I was raised in an intellectual family; most of my aunts, uncles and cousins were highly educated, many were in the sciences or finance, while I was an artist and a dancer. I was compared to my cousins and came up short intellectually.
As I look back now it is hard to find how this belief got released. The PhD helped, teaching and putting myself out there helped. But ultimately it was the mind relaxing and allowing many other beliefs to fall out. At the same time working with the emotional components, like shame, fear, sadness, etc.
Often there is a more dominant belief holding other less powerful beliefs in place. For me shame was the umbrella under which not being smart was just one spoke. There were a few more tiers of umbrellas above shame; one was being unlovable, another was being separate. So when shame and some others relaxed not being smart also relaxed. The interesting thing about beliefs relaxing is that new ones don’t replace them. So the belief that I am smart did not take over, the whole issue of intellect dissolved.
When we hold onto a belief our minds feel tight more closed, tension is held in the body, and there is an emotional component. Every belief adds to the dimensions of our sense of self, which becomes our identity. The denser or tighter our identity, the more separate we feel, and the more suffering we experience.
When each belief is released or relaxed, the mind is more open, the heart is fuller, and the quality of being is lighter. As we keep letting go our identity becomes more permeable, until it is transparent, the boundaries that separate dissolve, we become part of all that is, and then there is just what is. Peace, joy, aliveness, love, and wisdom begin to emanate from our being, and through our expression.