Many people anticipate 2014 to be a momentous year Ė an opportunity for individuals collectively to co-create a new, better world, while others perceive doomsday scenarios. How are you perceiving the world?
Perception, in simple terms, is the understanding or awareness of something by means of one or more of the physiological senses Ė sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. You might, for example, perceive another personís presence in a room because you witnessed it with your own eyes, heard footsteps or a door opening, or sensed the vibration of someone walking across the floor. These are all basic perceptions of our physical world.
Beyond this traditional meaning, people generally agree on some level that there is much more to perception than meets the senses. Who among us hasnít at some time felt the hair on the back of their neck stand up? Perhaps youíve looked behind you knowing someone was looking your way? Ever thought, Iíve got a feeling itís going to be a good day?
Our days are filled with perceptions. They govern how we conduct our lives.
Think of all the perceptions you might have while standing in an elevator as it takes you from the lobby to the seventh floor: Itís stuffy in here. I feel good today. That man with the briefcase and the umbrella sure seems stressed. What am I doing with my life? I wish Ö I think Ö I feel Ö I wonder Ö . And that could all happen before you reach the third floor!
Until very recently, it was generally accepted that our perceptions were limited to data collected by the five senses and processed by the conscious brain, but many researchers today, including those at the Institute of HeartMath, believe our entire psychopysiological systems are engaged in the formation of our perceptions. Studies related to intuitive processes are expanding around the world as scientists seek to learn more about the human ability to know, feel and understand certain things with no detectable prior knowledge.
IHM researchers have found that the human heart, which we now understand possesses a sophisticated level of intelligence discovered by scientists in the 1990s, is central to this nonbrain perception. Evidence of this has been measured through a range of emotions and physiological changes exhibited or detected throughout the body, according to the study Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition Ė McCraty, Atkinson and Bradley, 2004.
Did you know, for instance, that when you calmly watch the pattern of your heart rhythm on a heart monitor, the wave running across the screen can suddenly turn erratic if you simply focus on something that makes you angry or recall some incident that affected you adversely?
This discovery and subsequent findings are proving highly beneficial to people in a multitude of ways. Whereas it has been widely believed that our perception of events and situations in our lives could cause stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and a range of debilitating conditions, HeartMath researchers have learned it is not due to perception alone. After conducting many controlled studies involving hundreds of subjects, they have shown that in fact, it is our response to our perceptions that is the overriding factor and that we have choice in how we respond.
Think of it in terms of spotting storm clouds on the near horizon as you prepare to head off for a day at the beach. You can respond to your perception of an impending storm in several ways. You may choose to be agitated because your plans have been upset, in which case there would be a negative effect on your disposition and your body. Contrast that with choosing to view it as an opportunity Ė to read a book, go to the movies or engage in some other pleasing activity.
So, your perceptions of 2014 are not only about how you perceive the world when watching news, but how are you responding to the world you perceive when watching news. I do watch the news, but instead of letting it stress me out, I go to my heart and send compassion and care.
For more than twenty-two years the nonprofit Institute of HeartMath (IHM) has explored stress and human emotions. IHMís findings about perception, heart intelligence and much more have led to the development of easy-to-learn tools and technology that empower people to choose their response to a perception or to expand their perception with new intuitive information. Visit the IHM web site (www.heartmath.org) for free resources, tools and techniques for all ages; it is our mission to educate the public worldwide on how to live healthier, happier lives. A change of heart can change your perceptions to a larger view.
Are you seeing and responding to the world through the qualities of the heart such as kindness, respect, non-judgment or compassion or through the lens of insecurity, worry, resignation, anger, fear or depression?
I would love to hear how are you responding to the world you perceive?