Perception Is Reality - Change It

The Art of Right Seeing

It has been long understood by experts in the field of human psychology that how an individual perceives his or her environment and the circumstance of their existential condition is primarily responsible for that individual's overall mental health. In turn, one's mental health has a significant influence on the dynamics of attitude, expectation, and every conceivable life-choice. These include peer-group choices, career choices, educational goals, self-identification, and personal valuations of the phenomenon of life itself. One's perception is thus the only difference between an expectation of poverty and one of wealth. Perception in one individual may be at the root of all faith and hope, while in another, being the cause of hopelessness, dread, and despair. What we perceive and believe, brings us to embrace subjective reality as objective truth.


It is important to note that opposed perceptions are in no way dependent upon opposed circumstances. Consider one such instance exemplified by the life of a young girl of African descent born in rural Mississippi, into the nation's most impoverished community. Even among the impoverished, this girl's family was considered to be deprived by community standards. The girl's single, teenage mother could only provide her with dresses made of potato sacks, and she was mocked in school for her extreme poverty. She suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of those she trusted the most. At the age of nine, she was molested by a cousin, an uncle, and an adult family friend. The molestation continued until she ran away from home at thirteen. At fourteen, she gave birth to a premature baby who died shortly after being born.


This story has the building blocks for a life of poverty, ignorance, and victim-based thinking. Anyone hearing it would agree that the child was a victim in many ways, but in the end, her perception became the ultimate factor that would decide her fate. The young girl in the story is Oprah Winfrey, who against the odds, refused to wallow in the self-sabotaging victim-stance that she would have been "entitled" to, had she chosen to ride one of many waves of life-depleting perceptions with which she was undoubtedly presented. She did not. Instead, Oprah embraced life and became an example of success due to her ambition, tenacity, determination, hard work, and a steadfast commitment to excellence. These qualities are a direct result of one little girl's manner of seeing and perceiving the world and her place in it. Her life is a single example, but it stands as sound evidence that one's perception is in no way dependent upon the nature of their circumstance.

The perceptions we habituate are the most critical choices humans will make in the course of life. Unfortunately, almost all of them are made with little or no conscious awareness. The vast majority of lives are lived as a by-product of untended subconscious thought processes, which have been influenced by the negativity of ungoverned environmental signals. The solution is conscious awareness and the deliberate downloading of affirmative programs. It is with this understanding that the Radical Freedom Program dives into the “Changing Perceptions” principle. If unconscious and arbitrary thought-forms have created a failure of catastrophic proportions, the remedy can only be the changing of thought-forms through conscious and deliberate action. The task of teaching young people to create transformative paradigms is no small one, but it is one for which the Crestone Freedom Project and its program curriculums are uniquely qualified and prepared.


The critical work of this phase opens and hinges upon mindfulness practice, skillfully introduced and mastered throughout the program, as a core element. The ancient mindfulness tradition of Vipassana (insight) meditation is organized and carried out by practitioners with years of experience. A rigid practice of this tradition effectuates a slow, yet certain peeling away of the many layers of perceptual slag. As a higher consciousness is revealed, darkness gives way to light, defeat surrenders to confidence, and hopelessness is consumed by a new vision of a more revealing truth – a truth about who and what the student is, at his or her core.


This understanding has been best articulated by one of Executive Director Dewayne Vanderford’s mentors and personal teachers, Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, in a statement made by him in the movie, The Secret. The quote may be considered a defining example of the essential form of an advantageous perception. The Radical Freedom Program is primarily geared toward the raising of consciousness to more favorable levels. Dr. Beckwith's profound, life-affirming expression, presented below, stands as a model of that aim.

“I believe that you're great; that there is something magnificent about you. Regardless of what has happened to you

in your life, regardless of how young or how old you think you might be, the moment you begin to think properly, there's

something that is within you, there's power within you, that's greater than the world. It will begin to emerge. It will take over

your life. It will feed you. It will clothe you. It will guide you, protect you, direct you, sustain your very existence ... if you let it.

Now, that is what I know for sure!”

~ Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith ~

The changing of perception is a multifaceted undertaking, one that the Crestone Freedom Project will address using a wide array of tools. In addition to mindfulness practice, the Project will implement a program in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. Wild horses are magnificently tenacious, resilient, and resourceful animals who exemplify many of the perceptual traits the Project actively encourages its participants to adopt. Additionally, working with wild animals, in and of itself, requires a dramatic adaptation of attitudes and approaches that have commonly become ingrained with addiction issues. These necessary adaptations promote healthy mindsets of cooperation, teamwork, and success that replace old ones of manipulation, separateness, and certain failure.


During the “Changing Perceptions” phase, participants also begin to join in the Project’s Community Work Program. By reaching out to the surrounding population in a positive way and receiving a positive reward in the form of praise for selfless service, perhaps for the very first time in their young lives, youth in treatment gain new ideas about themselves. Also, during this stage, participants begin to develop outdoor living and survival skills through the Project’s Earth and Wilderness Education program. Valuable certifications in real-world-applicable trades are made available through Career Development & Reintegration Programming.


The deep healing brought about by a loving and connected environment leads to an ability to open to new thoughts, new concepts, and more evolved paradigms. These changes make it possible for students to enter the final phase of treatment, where they will create and set in motion a new and specific vision for themselves that is destined for manifestation.  

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." 


~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

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