Working with your beliefs

Separating and Creating Space

Now that you have made an inventory of your beliefs, how do you work with them? Conventional psychotherapy tells us that insight will do it for us. When we know and understand the cause of our difficulty, we’re supposed to be healed or at least feel somewhat better. But this provides only a brief fix. As James Hillman and Michael Ventura so aptly put it in the title of their reproach to conventional psychology: “we’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy — and the world’s getting worse.” Is it really enough just to know your beliefs? Is this any more likely to get you unstuck than insisting the reason for your fear of loss, separation, and death is that your mom forgot to pick you up after school one day in first grade? Knowledge of your beliefs is essential, but if you insist on being attached to that knowledge and making up stories about it, it becomes just one more obstacle that prevents you from moving on. Separating and Creating Space

In Being Peace, the poet and Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh tells us, “If we take one thing to be the truth and cling to it, even if truth itself comes in person and knocks at our door, we won’t open it. For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” what is understanding? In the case of Focusing, understanding is modest, empty of ego and belief. It means “to throw away your knowledge. The technique is to release.” Focusing allows us to do this.

In the next exercise, we introduce you to a simple process for separating from those beliefs that create limitation or illness in your life. By separating from a belief, you release yourself from its influence, which in turn allows you to eliminate or transform it. When you practice this technique, Focus rather than think. Don’t try to figure it out. There is no right or wrong way, no matter what the Committee members tell you.

If you don’t separate from your belief immediately, don’t be discouraged. Though most people separate from objects pretty easily, beliefs are far more tenacious. Detaching or separating from them takes practice, and using the exercise for “Becoming the Watcher’’ beforehand can be helpful.



Whatever difficulty you have in feeling this separation between yourself and your belief shows how closely you’re attached to it. Attachment, separation, and loss, particularly having to do with parents, are major emotional issues for people with asthma. When asked, many asthmatics tell us that their initial diagnosis appeared around the time of parental divorces, of parents or loved ones leaving them in one way or another, or when they themselves were first leaving home. This was shortly after her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Even though no one had discussed the possibility that her mother might die, she knew this could happen, and the thought of this separation was unbearable. It was at this time the asthma surfaced.

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