Only Love is Real

Finding What’s Real: Lessons from the Velveteen Rabbit

We all come to the yoga practice, as we do in life, with our own personal set of magnifiers. These amplifying sensory tools allow us to enlarge and sharpen parts of our experience, like an illusion. Making us believe what we (choose to) see is all that is real. But it’s really a trick.

verb | hood·wink | ˈhu̇d-ˌwiŋk
:: to deceive or trick (someone)

:: and in yoga, to play both the trickster and the tricked.

What is REAL?

All our lives, we’ve been trained to believe and behave in a certain way. It’s by design, actually. How else as children, could we learn to navigate the world if every experience we had was new and novel every single time? We couldn’t. So we learn to categorize, chunking information into compact packages easily stored and retrieved.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”*

We all get hoodwinked by the handles we see and the buzzing we hear, not realizing the very senses we rely on for clarity are also a filter, distorting the information just like those funny mirrors at an amusement park. Only we believe them to be an accurate reflection.

Because part of our trickery is to amplify all evidence within our view, creating drama – and the more dramatic a scene, the more convinced we are that it’s real. Quite the conundrum, actually.

Stories we become practiced in telling and ideas we have spent time in proving, become more and more set in our imaginary stone. Thus the more clearly we believe we are seeing, the blinder we actually are.

And why your thoughts are not real. It is all an illusion. Like the clouds that cover the sun, these beliefs about yourself and the world act as a veil, preventing us to see the REAL truth.

Real isn’t how you are made

Who you are, your true Self, has nothing to do with your history, how many people like you, what achievements you’ve made, or failures you’ve suffered.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” 

Ultimately, this is why we come to yoga – to love ourselves, the way a child loves.

But the mind is tricky, convincing ourselves we come to be fixed. We think we are broken and unworthy, practicing for either validation or to disprove what we already (think) we know about ourselves. All of these are constructs of the mind – the ideas we identify with and let define who we are.

And it’s false. That’s why even in yoga, we can easily play both the trickster and the tricked. Unless we can learn to do one thing: stop caring and start loving.

Real is how you love

We care about being right. We care how we are judged. Heck – we judge ourselves … on how we look, on the shapes we can (or can’t) make, on the mistakes we’ve made, and on how many letters we can place after our name.

“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

There is a child within us all who longs to be loved. This body, this mind – neither define who we are, though we let them. But maybe that’s why it takes us so long to realize. It’s not until the mind and body soften, with age or experience, we are able to finally let ourselves in.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.” 

Everything you can see with your eyes, in your mind, is limited. Our bodies and the world around us, finite. Beneath is our true and divine nature – the infinite. Let all this dissolve to see past the illusion.

And why we have to love the rest off. Until most of our hair has been loved off, our eyes droop, and we get loose in the joints and very shabby. Love everything about these limited bodies, our crazy minds, our fucked up history, our imperfections, our mistakes – ALL of us. Of course, it’s not really us at all.

The trick, you see, is to love the trickster.

Because it’s only in learning to love ourselves that we can ever get to the heart of what’s eternal, perfect, and pure – our one true nature. The divine within us all.

*The Velveteen Rabbit

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