By Mary Boutieller
Welcome the New Year with all your hearts! Let go of anything that no longer brings you joy or purpose. Shed the skin of your past lives and welcome the possibility to begin again, to start over, to be the person you were meant to be. There is always a tinge of excitement for me as one year ends and another begins. I become rather philosophical about the year that has passed—the good and the bad, the times I when haven’t been true to myself and the times when I have felt really “real.”
As author Margery Williams writes in The Velveteen Rabbit: “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you.”
That makes sense to me. I often feel as if I am becoming more real each year as I grow in experience and wisdom, as I learn the lessons from another season in my life, as I distinguish between the person I am and the person I want to be. In paraphrasing a quote from Gandhi: Can I strive each day, in my actions, thoughts and words, to be the person I wish to see in the world? Much like the Golden Rule, we get to choose how we treat others and ourselves. My hope is that with another new beginning, we choose to be kind, compassionate, real.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Skin Horse says to the Rabbit: “…It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 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. 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.”
I think “realness” does take time. It takes the ups and downs of experiential living; it takes a willingness to get hurt, to love, to be vulnerable, to be wrong. It requires us to put ourselves out there more than once, to get “bitten” and yet not give up on our vision, other people or the world. It means “living out loud” with courage and humility, as many times as it takes, until we find that our hearts resonate with the experience of others, because we have had those experiences ourselves.
The Skin Horse finally says: “Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” The more we see and feel and know our true selves, the easier it is to honor that road, that journey. Once we become aware, we can’t become unaware, at least not fully. We can fall back, but we will feel the discord and know we’re off track. It’s not about perfection or judgment or getting it right all the time. It’s not about “keeping up” with anyone else. It’s about a feeling-state of love—that high frequency energy—that can infuse everything we do.
In a lovely article in Mindfulness Magazine, Elisha and Stefanie Goldstein wrote an article titled: “Could You Connect More?” Here are some of their suggestions:
1. Really see each other. Making eye contact with someone…can relieve stress and create a deeper sense of connection.
2. Listen with all your senses. When we feel listened to, we feel cared about and this increases a sense of mutual love and connection.
3. Reach out and touch someone. Take a day to experiment with actively reaching out to your loved ones with small touches (on the hand, shoulder, knee or arm) and see what you notice—perhaps it’s a greater sense of connection, increased compassion, or an open heart.
4. Hug like you mean it.
5. Practice “Just like me.” DNA research has revealed that regardless of gender, ethnicity or race, humans are 99.9 percent the same. If you want to foster a greater sense of connection in your life, as you go through your day and encounter someone who you think is different from you, silently say, “Just like me,” and see what comes up. You may just experience the awareness that each of us wants the same things: to feel cared for and understood and to experience a sense of belonging.
As we notice, relish, embrace and celebrate the good stuff, the yummy moments, the people and things that make us smile and feel warm all over, we fill up the cup of life and keep it running full. When we actively do this, it can help us weather the times when the going gets tough.
As this New Year begins, let us treat each other with loving kindness. It doesn’t have to be big or grand. Small purposeful gestures can change the world. Bring the intention of love to your actions whenever possible and move from there.
Emmet Fox said: “It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.”
Wishing everyone a New Year filled with grace, love and ease!
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.