What Is Reality?

Communication freedom business and lifestyle concept with a close up of human eye and a group of monarch butterflies flying as a creative metaphor for the liberty of imagination expression and innovative vision.“It is sometimes said that our image of reality is an illusion, but that is misleading. It may all be an appearance in the mind, but it is nonetheless real—the only reality we ever know. The illusion comes when we confuse the reality we experience with the physical reality, the thing-in-itself.”

Peter Russell


A day at a local hot springs

Occasionally my husband and I try to escape from the busy-ness of life by going to a local hot springs. During our last visit, while soaking in the soda pool, I began meditating on the water as it rippled and swirled in front of me. I noticed patterns of reflected light dancing on the surface of the water as the sun filtered through the fiberglass roof.

At one point, I surprised myself when I noticed the floor of the pool. It had an interesting pattern that I had never seen before. It was lighter in color than I’d imagined it would be. It had lines extending the length of the pool that looked almost like metal strips dividing the concrete into sections. I wondered why they had constructed the floor in this way.

I felt the bottom with my feet. It didn’t feel the way it looked. I couldn’t feel the pattern I was seeing. Then I realized that I was actually seeing a reflection of the roof on the water. I wasn’t seeing the bottom of the pool at all. I had constructed something in my mind and had not doubted my perception, until I did.

Life is like that and my reality is just “my” reality

Such is life. Everything I observe is just a reflection of my imagination and life experiences. I generally cannot see to the true bottom of anything. And much of what I am sure of—isn’t real at all—especially my perceptions of what other people are thinking and feeling. I am making up meaning all the time and believing what I perceive is real.

So, what’s the advantage of knowing this?

It helps to know that my “truths” come from my imagination. When I understand and remember that I’m making stuff up, then I’m less inclined to take myself and others too seriously.

When I’m aware that everything I think is a figment of my imagination, or at least, simply my own version of reality, I become less attached, less reactive and experience more equanimity in my life.

As a result, I don’t upset myself about much of anything. I don’t need to control anyone. I am free to make up any story that I want. So, I make up stories and meaning in ways that feel constructive and helpful.

I almost always have a choice as to how I feel every day and every moment. And to choose wisely, I need to let go of being attached to all the stuff I have no control over anyway.

Life and love can be easy

For the most part, this is how I live my life now. With the practice of Live Conscious, and particularly with Perception Language, I am constantly reminding myself that I am making up meaning all the time.

This way of being has helped me create a deeply respectful marriage—both of us understanding that we are two different people with different perceptions, different “realities.” No right—no wrong. He doesn’t have to see things exactly the way I do, nor do I have to see things the way he does. And we don’t have to control one another. We used to try, well, it’s my perception that he did, now we just love each other.

This allows us to live with more ease, humor and curiosity.

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