027: Choose Your Own Adventure in Life With Present Moment Awareness


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Stepping into the present moment gives us the space to proactively create the life we desire while simultaneously diminishing our core limiting beliefs.

When I learned that my beliefs were behind the thoughts I was having and the feelings I felt I realised if I changed my beliefs I could also change how I experienced life.

I also learned that beliefs continually reinforce themselves through the experiences they create – the experience made up of our thoughts and feelings.

I saw that these experiences were always related to the original belief. If the belief was negative I would experience negative thoughts and negative feelings; if a belief was positive I would experience positive thoughts and positive feelings.

This belief > thought > feeling > experience process continually reinforces the original belief as the experience it creates has originated from it.

While practicing being in the present moment I noticed that any difficult experience I was having felt easier and less overwhelming, and I also noticed that I had more space to decide if I wanted to keep being in that experience or choose a different experience entirely.

In this episode I share the process I’ve been using to come into the present moment using my feelings and how that has created the space for me to choose a new action which isn’t of the original belief.

Using this process I’ve watched some of my biggest negative beliefs fade away and be replaced by beliefs of positivity, compassion and self-growth.

Highlights and Takeaways

  • Beliefs are created from our experiences of the world around us.
  • Beliefs dictate the thoughts we have and the feelings we feel.
  • Beliefs reinforce themselves through the thoughts and feelings they give rise to.
  • A negative belief will create negative thoughts and as a result we feel negative feelings. A positive belief creates positive thoughts and positive feelings.
  • Coming into the present moment breaks the energy cycle of our limiting beliefs and provides a space where we can take a new action.
  • There’s nothing more we need to do to enter the present moment than becoming aware of our present experience.
  • Acceptance is a vital part of present moment awareness, without it we can continue resisting or repressing our experience in this moment.
  • Present moment awareness is not an analytical process, it’s an open listening to how we are in this moment.
  • We can tell we are in the present moment when we sense any amount of relief or ease from what we are experiencing.
  • New action leads to new experiences. From new experiences we begin to build new beliefs. These new beliefs will change the way we think and feel in our lives
  • We all have the ability to come into the present moment.

Show Notes

I want to explore how we form beliefs and also how our beliefs are triggered by the events around us, and with awareness of the experience of the thoughts we’re having and the feelings we’re having we can come into the present moment. From that present moment we then have a choice to take a different action, to walk a different way or make a different decision, whatever it is we desire. And it’s the space that’s created by the present moment which allows us to do that, which allows us to make that new decision.

This is where the amazing part is; every time we take that new action we’re starting to build up new beliefs on a different pathway that have nothing to do with our old beliefs, they’re not conditioned by them, they’re not bound by them, and over time these beliefs give rise to new experiences because it’s the belief that is causing particular thoughts and feelings to come up for us.

In this way, having the space to take this new action or make these new decisions not conditioned by our past beliefs, we have the ability to proactively create any life we want while we’re still being compassionate to the old limiting beliefs. And as we’re doing that they also progressively diminish over time, they get less and less intense just as a natural result of us taking this new action and I’m going to explain how that works in just a moment.

You would have noticed if you’ve been listening for a little while that I have mentioned all these techniques before. I keep mentioning self-awareness and acceptance and also the self-relationship and different ways to come back into the present moment. And this episode touches on points that are in Episode 005: Stepping Out of Negativity by Becoming Aware of Our Awareness and also in Episode 024: Self-Acceptance Comes Before Self-Help, but I find it helpful to look at these things from different angles so we can all understand them from different angles and have a better understanding of what exactly I’m talking about – both you and me.

How Beliefs are Formed

Let’s just revisit beliefs for a second and I want to look at how they’re formed. This will provide a general overview for anyone that’s still in the dark about how beliefs relate to our thoughts and feelings and how they are all connected.

Beliefs are created by our interpretations of the events around us. In order for us to create a belief we need an us and an event to experience.

So really there’s three parts; there’s us, there’s the event – which could be any situation – and then we have an experience of that event; how we actually feel it or perceive it to be. Depending on how we interpret the initial event will determine what sort of belief we make about that experience.

Not every experience you have is going to start creating a belief, but once you do have a belief there it just naturally starts to reinforce itself and your thoughts and feelings start to reflect the belief that you formed. So for example: I’m five years old and I’m playing in the park with my mum and a few of my other five year old friends, and I’ve got a juice, the sun is shining, everything is amazing. Off to the side there’s a basketball game going on, it’s just a casual game, just local street kids who are just enjoying the summer sun and getting out there and playing some basketball. And then… BAM! something huge and heavy hits me, the force and the weight of this thing make my body buckle to the ground and I’m crying. –This is not a real story by the way but if that did happen I would definitely be crying. I got hit by a basketball.

Now I could perceive this experience in a couple of different ways, many different ways but I’m just going to throw in two options just to keep it simple. If I was really in my own world and suddenly this really heavy force hits me and just smashes me to the ground I might come away with the belief that basketballs are dangerous. And I don’t actually know what basketballs are at that point (being five years old) but I know what they look like, how heavy they feel, how much pain they can cause and that’s good enough for me to create this belief that they’re dangerous. Or with the same event I could come away thinking that people who play basketball are dangerous, because maybe I was watching the game and I saw the pass that went off the court and came straight to meet my body and face. So if that was my experience of the event then maybe I won’t feel that basketballs are dangerous but people who play basketball are dangerous. So you can see how it changes subtly depending on where my focus was at that point in time and how I’ve interpreted the event. But the event itself is the same. Objectively I got smacked with a basketball and it really hurt.

In order to form a belief there is:

  • An initial event
  • Our experience of the event
  • Our perception of that experience

Now our perception of the experience will be completely unique, it’s always going to be unique, even from the day we’re born how we perceive the experiences around us will be completely unique to us. As we grow up and have more and more experiences we build beliefs good and bad, and neutral and everything in between. All of these beliefs shape how we perceive events in this moment.

How Beliefs Are Triggered and Felt in the Present Moment

Using the basketball story: I’ve got this belief and once that belief is there I’ll carry it wherever I go. It won’t always be active and in most situations this belief isn’t going to cause too much trouble, this belief that either basketball is dangerous or people who play basketball are dangerous. So this is mostly not going to cause too much trouble, but the next time I’m near a basketball game there’s a pretty high chance I’m going to feel anxious and possibly a bit vulnerable.

Let’s just say when I’m older, I’m fifteen and my friends start playing basketball and of course I want to be with them, I want to play basketball too. But as I start playing I realise I’m so afraid of the ball, I’m afraid to receive the ball. I’ve forgotten the original incident at this point, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten the incident that started this belief that basketballs are dangerous. Every time someone passes the ball to me I can feel my whole body tenses up, I get really heavy, I can’t move properly and I don’t know why because I can’t remember the original event which caused this belief. There’s no reference to this original belief, I’ve forgotten the original event but I’m still having the symptoms of it, I’m still being affected by it.

The River Analogy: Beliefs > Thoughts > Feelings

One of the ways I like to illustrate the relationship between our beliefs and how they affect our thoughts and feelings is by using the analogy of a river. Our beliefs, those initial formations built up of all these experiences and memories are what shape the river bed. If the river bed is all twisty and narrow in certain sections then that’s how the water is going to flow. But if the river bed is very deep and open then that’s also going to dictate how the water is going to flow through it. That water can be seen as our thoughts and feelings.

So first we have the underlying beliefs which determine the flow of the larger body of water. The larger body of water can be seen as our thoughts. And on the very surface of the water there’s ripples and little whirlpools and swirls and those are our feelings and our sensations.

Usually our awareness is closer to the surface of the river than it is to the bottom of the river bed. It’s the thoughts and the feelings that create our experience.

The Self-Reinforcing Energy Cycle of A Belief

Going back to the basketball game, I’m on the court, I’m fifteen years old, I’m trying to play basketball with my friends I find out I can’t catch the ball because my body is locking up, I feel very uncoordinated and there’s a lot of fear and anxiety running through me. That is my experience in that moment and that is made up of the thoughts I have and the feelings I’m feeling. We perceive this experience through the sensations of our body.

So I might be feeling some tension inside me somewhere, some heat, a flushed face, and when I feel these things and I’m locking up and nervous, immediately that creates a new experience and from that new experience I have more thoughts and from those thoughts I then have more feelings which creates another experience within my body. You can see that this cycle just continues.

Because the initial experience of the fear and all the anxious thoughts have come from this original belief (basketballs are dangerous) I have more thoughts and feelings about the experience that that belief has created. This enters me into a cycle which continually reinforces the limiting belief and it can even spiral to create more beliefs.

It could start from a believe that basketballs are dangerous, and then through this new experience of not being able to catch the ball, this could then go on to create another belief which is, I’m not good at basketball and this is all stemmed from that original belief.

If I didn’t feel basketballs were dangerous I would have had no problem receiving the ball on the court. So you can see how that can really quickly get out of control and just keep going and going infinitely. I want to talk about how we can use the present moment to break this cycle.

Awareness (And Acceptance) of Our Experience Breaks the Cycle

The simple act of becoming aware of our present experience brings us into the present moment. There’s nothing more we need to do. Just being with everything that I feel in the moment, I’ve entered into this present moment.

The present moment is neither good, bad or neutral. It’s only when we begin to label it or interpret it in certain ways, or start thinking about what it is or how it is or how it should be, that we bring content to it. So when we become aware of the experience we’re having in this moment we step outside of it (our experience). Simultaneously we step into the present moment and we step outside of the experience we’re having. We’re then in a position to just watch it and not be overwhelmed by it because we’re on the sidelines.

Acceptance is vital to this process, without acceptance it is easy to continue resisting how we feel or trying to push it away or ignore it in some way. Just as a side note, if you want to hear more about acceptance you can check out – Episode 024: Self-Acceptance Comes Before Self-Help – where I talk a lot about self-acceptance. I go into more detail about the process of what acceptance is and how to do it.

By becoming aware of our experience we step outside i, we’re no longer overwhelmed by it. We’re also in the present moment because that is the experience we’re having and we’re just being with it, that’s all there is to coming into the present moment.

Coming Into the Present Moment Through Your Feelings

I found that it’s easiest to become aware of my experience through my feelings and the sensations I feel in my body, because every feeling we have will have a sensation associated with it somewhere in the body.

Over time I’ve got into this habit of just paying attention to my body and realising, “oh there’s some burning in my stomach… Oh, I’m afraid,” and just bringing my awareness to it and accepting that’s how I feel right now. This is bringing me into the present moment every time and simultaneously breaking me out of whatever self-reinforcing belief cycle I’m in that’s causing me to feel fear in the first place.

Using our feelings and the sensations in our body as that point of access to the present moment is really all that’s necessary. We don’t need to become aware of the thoughts which are creating those feelings, and we also don’t need to go right down to the depth of the river and become aware of the original belief. You can do that, it is possible to do that, I have done that for myself using the tools of writing and other methods but it’s not necessary in order to come into the present moment.

It’s important to note that this is not an analytical process. we’re not analysing how we are, we’re just being with how we are. So it’s more of a listening; an open listening to how we are in this moment instead of an analytical investigation or a search for how we are. We already are how we are right now. it’s just an open listening to our present experience.

Every time I do this there’s a sense of ease and relief that I feel, every time, and it’s a really good way to tell that you’ve come into the present moment.

It’s the combination of awareness and the acceptance of the experience you’re having which brings you into the present moment.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel incredibly relieved or completely relieved, there’s different degrees of it. Any amount of relief is a sign that you’re in the present moment.

The Present Moment Gives Us The Space to Take New Action

So I’m on the court, I’ve become aware of how I feel, I’ve accepted how I feel, I’m in that present moment allowing and accepting everything I experience; from that place I decide, “you know what? I’m just going to catch this ball; even if it hurts me I’m going to catch this ball.”

You can see that decision is completely new, completely apart from the original belief that basketballs are dangerous and with that new decision my friend passes me the ball and I catch it like a pro, there’s no flinch there’s no fumble and I just make a pass, and we’re playing basketball.

It’s this new action which has led to a new experience. From that new experience I can build a new belief, a belief that has nothing to do with the belief that basketballs are dangerous.

I just want you to take a moment to think about the power of that process.

Think about the potential of being able to come into a space where you’re no longer overwhelmed by the experience you’re having in this present moment and have the ability to make a decision that is good for you and good for those around you.

That is just going to cause a chain reaction. Every new action you take from that space of clarity, from that present moment, is going to give rise to a new experience, and from that new experience you begin to build new beliefs and these beliefs will start to change the way you think and feel in your life.

We all have this ability, it’s a natural ability that we have; to become aware and accept our experience in this present moment. And when we do we come into the space where we can choose any action we want, any action we desire, make a decision that’s going to benefit us and those around us. And by doing that we are proactively creating a life that is however we want to make it, we’re proactively creating new beliefs – which I would assume would be positive and energising – which are then going to give rise to positive thoughts and positive feelings which are going to leave us with positive experiences and just feedback into this positive reinforcement cycle.

Something amazing begins to happen as you keep doing this. Every time you become aware of your present moment experience and make a new decision, two things are happening at the same time. You’re actively creating a new belief; a new positive belief, and as a result you’re no longer within the unpleasant overwhelming feelings and all the experiences that those feelings and thoughts bring. You’ve stepped outside of those. And by stepping outside of those you’re no longer giving them fuel to keep going. That cycle needs you to keep experiencing it and keep taking action from those places of fear in order to create new experiences of fear for yourself; and so you have those new experiences of fear and inadequacy and vulnerability and those reinforce the original limiting belief.

By stepping outside of those (limiting beliefs) and taking new action we’re simultaneously creating these positive beliefs that are going to create positive experiences in our lives and also diminish the power of the negative beliefs.

Every single time you practice this those negative beliefs get weaker and weaker until eventually they just fade away like they were never there in the first place.

Now these words coming from me, I haven’t read these in a book, this experience I’ve just described that they just dissolve – I’ve lived that; I’ve experienced that for myself and I’m grateful that I get to share that with you today.

What I’m Not Saying About the Present Moment

The present moment awareness is not an escape from our experience of life, it’s actually the complete opposite, it’s an embrace, it’s an acceptance and it’s an awareness of what is happening in this moment.

When we’re in the present moment our emotional wounds and those negative beliefs still exist but we’re no longer bound by them, we’re no longer inside them, we’ve come into a more neutral space where we can then make a new decision, a fresh decision and take new action which serves us and those around us in more fulfilling and positive ways.

Mentioned in This Episode

The Podcast

The B is for Being Podcast is a collection of conversations with friends, psychologists, and thought-leaders on the most effective tools for uncovering authentic expression and navigating the obstacles we may encounter on the way to discovering ourselves.

About Benjamin

Hi, I’m Benjamin. I podcast and blog about authentic expression and self-discovery. I also make slow-videos for rest and reflection. You can read more about me here.

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