There is a story of a tiger which lived in a small cage in a zoo for many years. All day long she would pace around the edges of the cage. After several years, the zoo came into new ownership and arrangements were made for the enclosure to be extended into a large area full of grass and trees. The tiger would be free to roam around a new and wonderful naturalistic environment. Soon the day came to remove the constrictive cage walls and allow the tiger a new freedom. Staff at the zoo removed the walls with great excitement. Sadly, the tiger would never benefit from her new freedom. For the rest of her life she paced around and around the small area which had once been her cage, never venturing beyond the area in which she had been confined for so many years.
Just like the tiger, many of us are confined by our own beliefs. We can limit ourselves by sticking to our ideas about who we are, what we can and can't do, about perhaps, in some circumstances, not being good enough. Just like the tiger, if we never stretch ourselves and challenge these beliefs, then we may never find out about possibilities in life that we dismissed without even trying.
A regular Mindfulness practice can help us to recognise and stretch some of our limiting beliefs. Firstly we may start to notice thoughts about not being able to do certain things. With mindfulness we might simply notice these thoughts, and remember that thoughts are not necessarily the truth. We might be curious to challenge ourselves to try some of the things that we think we can't do. We might notice if we tend to automatically hold ourselves back, and gently try to find out what happens when we don't.
Many of the thoughts and beliefs that cause us to limit ourselves may have roots in our past experiences and what we were once told. It can be liberating to find out for ourselves what happens when we truly open to possibilities and challenge ourselves to do what we don't think we can. These challenges can be tiny or huge - it doesn't matter. What matters is that we are prepared to challenge ourselves, to find out for ourselves what we might be capable of instead of believing our thoughts which may simply be echoes of the past with no current basis in reality.
When we let go of our limiting beliefs we can expect to embark on an emotional journey. We may surprise ourselves with our capabilities. It is likely that we will feel more alive and in contact with our emotions than ever. It is a wonderful Mindfulness practice to deliberately do something that we don't think we can, to gently observe our response and continue to encourage ourselves. We will certainly learn a little more about ourselves and may also find opportunities opening up that we never thought possible.