What are beliefs? I read a good definition once (I wish I could remember where) that suggested beliefs are merely thoughts that have been repeated enough times to become believable. For example, Donald Trump believes he was, and would be, a good president of the USA. Many Americans believe the same. He believed he was 'cheated' out of a second term in the Oval Office. Legal evidence suggests otherwise, but his strongly held conviction, currently being challenged in law courts across the US, has carried his orange hued male privilege a long way.

No one respects women more than me. No one reads the Bible more than me.
There’s nobody more pro-Israel than I am.
There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have.
There’s nobody who feels more strongly about women’s health issues.
Nobody knows more about taxes than me, maybe in the history of the world.
I have studied the Iran deal in great detail, greater by far than anyone else.
Nobody’s ever been more successful than me.
Nobody knows banking better than I do.
Nobody knows more about debt than I do.
Nobody’s bigger or better at the military than I am.
I am the least racist person you’ll ever meet.
Nobody knows politicians better than me.
Nobody builds better walls than me.
Nobody knows more about trade than me.
Nobody is better on humility than me.
I can be more presidential than anybody. I would say more presidential, and I’ve said this a couple of times, more presidential other than the great Abe Lincoln.

(Donald Trump)

Are beliefs things we know? Rarely it turns out. In her excellent article from 2010 on the derivation of belief, Ophelia Benson suggests that more often than not they are the current expression of our social and cultural conditioning, much of which we barely recognise. White people in a white majority cultural setting will often express surprise that people of colour living in that same culture see society as inherently racist. White folks generally don't like to consider themselves racist, and yet the systems which they are complicit in maintaining on a daily basis may well be contributing to a culture that is.

In liberal circles we are regularly advised not to believe everything we're told. But how many of us take time to evaluate the subliminally authored stories that we habitually spin about ourselves, and which end up dominating the narrative of our life experience. Unless consciously addressed, the I'm not worthy mindset can easily take centre stage. Is that something we truly want to believe? The underlying beliefs we unthinkingly take for granted are quite often the aspects of our lives that require the greatest scrutiny if we seek to nurture change and growth…or simply find happiness.

The influence of a Sagittarius full moon operates best given space. The obvious suggestion this week, then, is to get out into some. Nature's mollifying call is a wonderfully effective pathway to calming, aligned balance with wider existence. With very little conscious engagement, being in nature takes us 'out of ourselves' and harmoniously integrates our perceptions into the bigger picture. Time in nature is perpetually beneficial; however, it could also be seen as a willful act of denial that removes us from our domestic complexities, which are always waiting at home on our return.

The suggestion here is therefore to supplement a bit of time outdoors with an active search for the less obvious space defined by the parameters of our daily lives. It's a huge challenge, but how can we create space for ourselves when the walls of routine circumstances so often appear to restrict us? The answer lies, as ever, in an internal dialogue: by turning within. Developing internal resilience creates an inner space in which to observe habitually reactive thoughts (determined by our belief constructs) before they develop into impulsive action.

Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.


A momentary pause in the path from thought to action is the chief goal of mindfulness/meditation. Regular practice establishes a consciously derived hiatus in our habitual patterns of thought and behaviour to provide the possibility of choice: choice of action, which is ultimately a choice of perception. To choose a positive response in adversity is possibly the greatest act of conscious creativity available to us. Some wisdom traditions have gone as far as to suggest that it is the path to 'salvation' from humanity's long standing relationship with suffering.

And how do we cultivate that mindful pause? We've detailed the methodology in this column before, but here's a quick recap:

  • Find a quiet spot and moment (e.g., as soon as you get out of bed in the morning and/or last thing at night, but just as relevantly during your mid-morning toilet break or before returning to work after lunch; anytime that feels appropriate, really), then sit comfortably on a chair/loo with your back straight.
  • Concentrate solely on the physical sensations of your breath cycle - inbreath and outbreath—and familiarise yourself with your body's own natural rhythm.
  • Focus attentively on the breath to the exclusion of all else. The busy chatter of the mind will initially distract you, but don't be discouraged, the distractions are only thoughts after all; acknowledge their presence, then immediately return your concentration to the breath.
  • Practice as often as feels comfortable for as long a period as feels comfortable or effective. Three minutes is a great start then extend as feels appropriate.
  • This really isn’t rocket science folks. A calmer mind is available at will simply by focusing on your breath. What’s not to like?

After just a short period of regular practice, you will find that the noisy chatter of the mind will slow down, quieten, and eventually, if only for a fleeting moment, stop. That’s a big win. In the resulting destination space of 'no thought', you are sovereign. Choice becomes yours. You are no longer a slave to involuntary, impulsive, and often emotional reactions derived from a lifetime of social and cultural conditioning, you are their witness. As you observe the mind, and its call to habitualised action, the opportunity for wisdom emerges. With practice, one can evoke at will a state of 'being' rather than 'doing'. Thoughts no longer arouse immediate emotional disturbance. Long term, it can provide a foundation of inner calm that underpins one's life experience.

Such inner peace does not require belief; it is beyond belief, beyond thought, yet remains an irrefutable, heartfelt, universally available experience. Few people choose to explore it with any serious intent, but those that do will speak of the profound transformations it invokes. If you haven't yet given it a go, this week might be the perfect time to try.

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.

(Steve Jobs)