While sweating and watching my trembling arms and legs in a hot yoga class just a couple of weeks ago, the toned, tall, beautifully spoken yoga teacher guiding us through the grueling class started to tell a story. At that point she could have told the story of Little Red Riding Hood and I would have gladly listened – I was praying for any distraction from my burning, fatigued muscles.
But this story was actually really good.
Three blind men were placed on different sides of an elephant and were asked to describe what they were holding onto. The man holding onto the elephant’s tail said it was a rope, the man holding onto a leg said it was a pillar, and the man holding the tip of the tail said it was a brush.
When a seeing man approached them and told them they were all holding onto an elephant, they realized that although they each had a different experience, they had all been right in what they perceived. They just couldn’t get their arms around the entire elephant to truly gauge what they were holding onto.
This fable was originally told hundreds of years ago to illustrate the power of truth from many different perspectives.
All three men were right, yet all three men were also missing the big picture.
The yoga teacher was trying to convince us that although we were in pain and agony, it was just one perception of what we were feeling, and that instead we could choose to feel strong and warrior-like.
It kind of worked.
There was one moment when I thought I was a total warrior - strong and fearless. Then we started to work on abs and I wanted to cry.
But in the grand scheme of things, this old fable can be applied to every aspect of our lives.
Only instead of elephants, we hold onto different experiences and situations. Our view may be totally right, and we may be missing the bigger picture at the same time.
Our view of an experience is only one angle of it, yet we may hold onto our perception and not let anything else in because we feel it so deeply.
When we carry around old perceptions of how things used to be, or how we were wronged, jilted or pained, we’re really missing the bigger picture – the entire elephant.
Because despite how deeply we have felt something, chances are there are many other ways to view it – especially if we are holding onto perceptions we took on in the past. Those moments that seem to feel like they happened yesterday and also a lifetime ago can become embedded within us and shape our view of the world in a less than pleasing way.
Until we decide to step back and look at the whole elephant.
While we may have gone through some tough situations and had some hard breaks, the way we perceive what happened makes all the difference in how we carry on.
Instead of holding onto them as bruises and wounds, we can choose to perceive those hard breaks as lessons of love, compassion and understanding, getting us to the core of who we really are – pure love and light.
To reshape what we’ve experienced and get a better view takes some movement. When we can take a couple of steps away from the emotion of it all and replace our judgmental lenses with that of love, we can see the full purpose of what we’ve experienced. Making room for our perceptions to shift allows for a far better, more fulfilling view, which is a beautiful place to stand.
Taking those hardships, less than easy relationships, and dark times and asking for their purpose gives them more value than the pain we’ve experienced because of them.
It’s no easy feat, to step back and see the entire elephant, but it is possible, and a much better view, especially if you’ve been holding onto the tail end. :-)
Lots of big, wide love,
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