A quote from Robert Dilts, one of the a developer, author, trainer and consultant in the field of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) on the nature of beliefs: "The thing to realize about beliefs is that they are not intended to match existing reality. They are intended to provide a motivation and a vision so that your actual behavior can begin to develop and rise to meet them."
This quote has stuck with me for years now. Right there you can see why we are often in conflict with each other and in a conflict within. If i believe one thing and you believe another we will manifest different behavior and sometimes this can be a cause for contention. On the other hand, if i have a belief about my self that is unsupportive of a goal and intention I have to manifest a certain action and an outcome, I will never get it right or get it done because my internal "programming" does not support it.
Those of you who know me, know that i am a big fan of NLP and now EMDR which works on the same principles, acknowledging how beliefs about one's self, reality and the world around are programs constantly running beneficially, or detrimentally as one navigates through life.
How's this related to yoga, you may ask?
The concept of samsara, samskara and karma and the transcendence there of are greatly related to the findings of NLP and EMDR.
Samsara is your daily grind in which you chug along karmicly bound to whatever is happening, with the illusion of free will always choosing the same action in particular situations - "your way " of doing things and therefore pretty much getting a similar outcome from your actions. Life after life, death and rebirth - that's the domain of samsara.
Samskara are the mental conditioning that cause the above manifestation of samsara by virtue of creating karma. Mental conditionings - learned, adopted, self created - either way, that which works in the background to make your decisions for you while you think you are freely making decisions.
In other words - may i suggest - we are all programmed. What are we programmed with? Our beliefs.
Beliefs are the tools in your tool box you use to operate in this world - from assessing the environment, to who you are and how you are, to what to do about this or the other. In other words - your beliefs are your software package that make this enactment of life...well, enact living.
A belief can be "causal" as in what the causes what - the causal relationship between experience. A belief can be "meaning" as in what is the meaning of one experience, or another. A belief can be about limits. Based on these 3 things you decide what causes this experience, what the meaning of the experience is and what your limits are in relationship to it. Based on those you then chose a course of action. But as you can see....your belief may or may not be representative of reality so therefore, your course of action, may or may not be the most appropriate one. Furthermore, the results you get will at best confuse you and at worst really piss you off, disappoint you or leave you in wonderment of "why does this always happen to me?"
Here comes yoga and meditation - the practices where, if you so decide, you can learn to observe what comes and without judgment recognize it, own it, and then transcended. Basically, you can rewrite your software package. Keep what's useful, dump what's not, upload something new. Ask anyone who's sincerely undertaken the practices of yoga and meditation for a while and you will see that everyone acknowledges "shift of consciousness," "insights," epiphanies," "mental change," etc. all of which results in life changes.
Please, make no mistake, if you just show up to yoga classes, it doesn't mean you are going to get those benefits. Even though you can definitely get relaxed, stronger, more flexible and have better balance, it does not mean you are going to grow personally. Some people show up to yoga classes to work out. That's more like gymnastics. They steer clear from anything that looks like, feels like and smells like personal transformation. You can always spot those types - they fidget, are impatient in the beginning of class because the 3 -5 min the teacher allows for "centering" is way too much time to be quiet and still and they keep wanting to get to another pose, ready or not, just like in life they keep wanting another experience and never finding what they really want....because, they don't know what they really want!
This all being said, do you know what some of your beliefs are? Here's an easy one - who's better Republicans or Democrats? Why? Keep going with the questions. Sooner or later you will find out that you don't have a clue. All the answers that come out are likely to be just other beliefs. There's a difference between a belief and a fact. How many actual facts do you have to support the statements you are making?
Here's another one - My last relationship failed because......? Really?
And another way - If i had more money I'd feel much better? Yep, you and 7 bill other people on this Earth.
And my all time favorite - I am like this because when i was growing up my parents..... OK, then. I guess you just have to be that way forever. Happy suffering to you.
I work with people one-on-one and often go into this as we practice yoga. Can't say everyone like to know that their own beliefs are running the show. It's much better to shift the blame and do things that make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Still there are others who as soon as they identify a harmful belief, rejoice in the possibility of dumping it and re-wiring the circuitry for something different. That's the fun of living, in my personal opinion. The ability to put the bags down and hop on a different train anytime!