Can your perception really be trusted? Right now, you look out into the world at people, places, circumstances, and the overall feel of your life. More than likely, you see all these things as stagnant entities. Your perception of these things is based on past experience, which aims at keeping things “fixed” as they are. Perception therefore can never be trusted because it is only a snapshot of something that is ever changing. Reality is constantly morphing and changing based on your patterns of thought.
There is a constant influx of raw data being taken in by your sense organs that can make perception seem very real indeed, but even this data is altered by out state of being. For example, your perception of another person can be vastly different if you are perceiving them through a lens of love and forgiveness compared to a lens of hatred or frustration. This may seem fairly obvious, but we may have a habit of seeing things through a certain lens while remaining unaware that our “rose colored glasses” have become dirty with the filth of ignorance and non-virtuous thought.
Moreover, we have a confirmation bias or cognitive which always aims at reinstating current preferences and beliefs, so even if we receive a whole different set of data through our sensory organs, we tend to filter out the data that contradicts our current perception of reality.
A cognitive bias exists to save our brains time and energy, so they are very useful on one hand, but they can also be harmful to our personal and spiritual growth.
Here are some fast facts about cognitive bias:
- Our brains will tend to focus on things we have already experienced (things that are already loaded in the CPU of our memory).
- Humorous, bizarre or emotionally charged things tend to stick out to us more than other things with more subtlety.
- Our brains focus on change (either positive or negative).
- We notice flaws in others more often than in ourselves.
- We create stories even when there is not enough data to have an accurate picture of reality.
- Where there are gaps in information, we use stereotypes, generalities, and assumptions.
- We tend to be fond of things and people that we are already familiar with.
- Big numbers or big challenges (even questions about life) are grossly simplified so that we can feel comfortable thinking about them.
- We project our past onto our future perceptions.
- We assume we know what others are thinking. 
What’s more, there are endless things we can pay attention to in any given moment. We tend to filter in things we consider “pleasant” and filter out things that we want to avoid. But you may need to develop a new perception of what creates your happiness if you feel that smoking a cigarette can provide more joy than listening to a Mockingbird sing in the upper boughs of a tree on a walk in a park.
One way you can start to make cracks in your perception to allow for positive change is to adopt a “beginner’s mind,” as it is often referenced in ancient teachings. This allows you to be in a state of not knowing – of not defining everything you see and experience as good or bad, pleasant and something to cling to , or unpleasant, and something to avoid.
Begin to notice when you are meditating how your mind tends to layer perception upon perception, and begin to strip away the layers of decision that you’ve already made about a person, a thing, or a circumstance in your life. Allow your mind to see things anew, and alter your perception accordingly.
Just slowing your thoughts can also allow you to develop a “gap” – a single instance where you can choose rather than react to the world around you. Practice breathing deeply, and practicing mindfulness on a regular basis to start to unravel your erroneous perceptions about life.
Meditation can also directly change you ability to handle stress and perceive stressful situations in a whole new way. This practice increases compassion and resilience and allows us to disconnect from unhealthy patterns of perception. Specifically, meditation has been shown to eliminate our cognitive bias toward negativity. 
For more tools to help alter your perception, try our library of helpful books, including The Power of the Elevation of Consciousness, or schedule a one-hour appointment to experience SRM Reprogramming Healing.
 Benson, Buster. “You Are Almost Definitely Not Living in Reality Because Your Brain Doesn’t Want You to.” Quartz, 16 Sept. 2016, qz.com/776168/a-comprehensive-guide-to-cognitive-biases/.
 Newman, Kira. “The Science of Meditation: What We Know and What We Don’t.” Lion’s Roar, 16 Oct. 2018, www.lionsroar.com/the-science-of-meditation-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont/.