What is Belief?
We arrive at belief from real-life experience that essentially transforms into the proof we “need” to behave a certain way and thus cement that neural pathway on the subject.
This is what belief should be anyway, regardless of our opinions on if belief is healthy or not. But a lot of belief in things like religion or politics these days come from telling someone else what to do, which has nothing to do with experience, which is the precursor to belief… or, should be.
I think it was Joseph Campbell that spoke of entheogenic plants/substances as true religion, because they actually provide the experience necessary to construct spiritual beliefs that meet the requirements of belief. (I’ve found a good workout or yoga sadhana to be equally powerful.)
My Journey With Belief
Patience has always been a consistent source of conflict in my life, especially when it comes to interacting with others (wait, isn’t that obvious?) It probably comes from my father’s role in my childhood coupled with my personality and it’s something him and I have discussed at length. When the news came that I was to be a father a year ago, I immediately set my intentions to clean up my act… to work on my patience and my frustrated, often angry reactions that arise in those moments where patience is lacking. I didn’t want to pass on those vibes to my son any more than the karmic semen that contributed to his creation already had.
Until last year, I always believed yoga was the answer for me. Rooting into myself, having a nice asana practice, breathing, coming into a space of harmony with the world around me seemed like a no-brainer. But life was getting tricky. Certain issues in my back that had been creeping in and out over the years were suddenly out of control. And we all know—or believe—how those physical issues are manifest of something deeper, right?
I knew there was something going on that was more than just a physical problem with the muscles surrounding my spine, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’d experienced similar sensations before, through which resonant activities in different areas of my life could remedy (for example, needing to communicate with someone special about something close to my heart—a visible lump started growing in my throat after a month of ignoring the urge.)
I was in Vienna at this time, and I was recommended a healer who practiced Dorn therapy on my back and introduced me to locomotive exercises. These new exercises really supported me in expressing some local corporeal catharsis with which typical asana yoga and meditation practices just weren’t aiding (and I could never run, because of inevitable problems that would arise with my back). Soon after, I started practicing what I was learning with my partner and my mom and it felt very fulfilling to share these new movements.
Relating to belief and conflict, I find this anecdote fairly straightforward. I believed my legacy yoga practice of 10+ years could save me because it had, in the past, in my experience. But it required a shake up of all I knew in order to heal myself. (And that journey actually led me to BDK! Party.)
My Interpersonal Communication
Another source of perceived conflict is my communication. I am a very direct communicator and at times people in my life receive me in a way as if I’m coming after them by speaking directly. Though I imagine it comes more from my personality as opposed to experience contributing to belief, perhaps what is a limiting belief of mine is to say that “it’s not my problem how other people feel” in regards to my well-intentioned, albeit blunt, communication. I mean no harm in communicating straight-to-the-point, I just have never been one for natural niceties or sugar-coating.
Separate from patience, I have no issues with the “other” knowing if I am upset or not. With those not deeply and intimately close with me, I never have problems with patience. But I am transparent with my feelings. At restaurants I make my disapproval clear when the bread isn’t gluten-free as requested or there is a similar lack of presence or concentration in another person when interacting with me (especially when I’m paying for a product or service). Do I hold onto it after the fact? No. Does it perhaps make the other person feel ‘bad’? Likely. This is a theme I explore in my life. I don’t want to make people feel bad but it’s also not authentic of me as a human being to censor myself. Especially when one of my fundamental beliefs is that we can all learn from each other.
Triggers are a source of truth. I find that if I can express myself purely to another who may not be accustomed to receiving someone in a pure state—or does not have the patience or space for it—and later show emotion in what would appear to be the opposite end of the spectrum (gratitude, which to some may feel like an apology), it may be an important moment for that person. I never meant anything personal to that person, after all… just a guy being real.
Once upon a time, I decided to investigate this blunt communication, and after some reflection deduced that it probably had a lot to do with my diet. Over time I learned that gluten fucked me up, that meat made me insensitive, and that caffeine put me on another level of ego. It was always very clear that my emotions would get the better of me on a caffeine high or low; when I spent time ‘sober’, I was always in better control. Just like with a good exercise routine in life, somehow we are more aligned with our inner ‘peace’ which allowed for emotions but somehow we process them more efficiently, lovingly, peacefully.
It sounded like a no-brainer to quit caffeine but easier said than done when your passion lies in online entrepreneurship and filmmaking and that late-morning buzz. Between 2015 and now my journey took me from black coffee to bulletproof lattes to Earl Grey to pu-erh to matcha and now to yerba mate.
My partner and I went to Peru in the fall of 2019 and I knew that it was time to finally kick it. To me, I believed the caffeine represented my impatience. An addiction to suffering, to allowing that internal fire to continue to ravage my well-being and my interactions with my loved ones. I knew that the wachuma and yage/ayahuasca ceremonies to come would be a path of cheating, skipping the deeper work if I didn’t first take care of my patterns that were completely in my control. It was a rough week but I finally got clean from the caffeine.
I later made my intentions clear to the shamans (and myself) that I was trying to alleviate my own internal angst and suffering in order to clear the path to a more joyous, peaceful, and patient life with my coming son. I think this is where belief can be a good thing—mind over matter, placebo effect; I did, and do, believe that with the right tools or discipline, we can use belief to make constructive changes in our life. (The task becomes the act of letting go of it once it has served us.)
One night before my first Wa-chuma/San Pedro ceremony, and a week or two clean from caffeine, I suddenly burst out on my partner. When I say ‘burst out’, I mean I expressed myself impatiently and non-lovingly with my words (because she was drinking caffeine while pregnant—ha!). The next morning during the ceremony, lying in the sun and not realizing that I was beginning to trip absolute balls, I was suddenly back in the kitchen, getting upset with her.
It was a familiar space until I realized that I was no longer me. I had a knife in my hand, and this scene was much more violent than who I was or what had transpired the night before. It took a moment but once I remembered my ego, I realized that I wasn’t in an actual space of physical memory, but rather emotional, karmic memory.
This was my alcoholic great-grandfather who at multiple times almost killed his wife and abused his children, who left this earth by suicide and no one speaks of him anymore. We cried for hours together, me and that male lineage of mine that never learned how to properly express or communicate pain, even though these divine feminine goddess wives of ours were so close to us and eager to support us. My recently-passed grandmother arrived (that was the form I perceived it as, at least) and the energy she shared with us was beyond ‘forgiveness.’ It was nothing but love, so unconditional that forgiveness couldn’t even exist as a concept. Just love.
I think this final story represents the possibilities of belief. I have never felt more free since that ceremony, because I truly believed I was going into heal something that I had been working on for years. I’d thought caffeine was the issue—I am back on the caffeine now without problems, imagine that. Now that I’ve been on the BDK online regimen for two months, I have not had any pain or discomfort in my back. I am more patient than ever before, I am in control. (See ya, yoga.)