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The Eyes Always Deceive Us

Updated: Jan 22

We can’t trust what our eyes see. They never tell the whole story. They only reveal a narrow fraction of the truth and yet we cling to the webs and lies they weave over and over again never fully realizing that we have the power to weave a different narrative.

In my early days as a mother of two young children, I used to rise early on my days off of work and sneak down into my zen space to do yoga and meditation. It was like a different world where I felt completely free to move and think and be in a space free from interruption. I would sit blissfully, eyes closed in meditation until one of my children inevitably bounded into the room and onto my lap. 

The second my eyes would open I was catapulted back into my irritated and impatient mom body who was frustrated that the inner peace I craved always seemed to be elusive. I spent my days longing to be back on my mat, back in the safe world that I only knew how to create with my eyes closed and my awareness turned inward. 

Yesterday, I listened to a client tell me of her prayer and meditation practice and how her faith in God in those moments seemed to be the only thing that was getting her through this particularly tough time in her life. I sensed her moments of prayer were the only respite she got from the cruel world that presented to her through what her eyes could see. The moment she would open her eyes, she was instantly reminded of the web she seemed eternally stuck in.

Will the real reality please stand up? How do we know which reality is real? The one that I see with my eyes open or the one that I feel with my eyes closed? I certainly had plenty of people reminding me that I couldn’t just escape to my yoga mat every time life wasn’t fun. 

There is a difference between meditating (or any spiritual practice) to escape and meditating to integrate. As my practice evolved, I realized that I was meditating to integrate these two opposing worlds that seemingly contradicted one another. The more time I was able to spend in my inner world, the more that world would intermingle with my lived world. My resiliency started to improve. It became harder and required more stimulus to throw me off my center. I became less reactive, more conscious, and more present and grounded.

The way my brain interpreted what was happening to me began to change. I felt less anger and more compassion. I was quicker to forgive than to blame. Fear could still slow me down, but it wouldn’t derail me. People and situations that were once threatening to my nervous system, no longer carried the same charge.

I’m of course not unique in this experience. Thousands of people have used meditation and yoga to become more grounded and present and happy in their lives. But the secret is all in the eyes, it’s in what you choose to see. Eighty percent of the sensory stimulation that we take in every day is through our eyes. This is important because for everything that you see, your brain has a default way of making sense of what is happening. The look on your dad’s face whenever you sensed his disappointment in you when you were five is imprinted in your brain. So when you see that same look on your bosses face at work, you immediately think “I’m in trouble.” This pattern will persist until you bring conscious awareness to both the perception and the reality.

The power to change your perception is the greatest power of all. Eyes that look outward have learned to perceive the world through an external reality that is finite, limited, and contracted. Eyes that look inward can tune into a world that is infinite, expanded, and abundant. Your eyes carry the power to release old trauma, reprogram limiting beliefs, and effectively change behavior.

Years ago, I worked with a woman who had been deeply wounded by an experience she had with her father when she was about 5 years old. He had pulled her onto his lap and asked her to read to him from one of her books. My client recalled feeling distraught because she wasn’t a very good reader yet, but she wanted so much to impress and please her father. In her nervousness, she was only able to stutter and stammer a few words resulting in her father picking her up off of his lap, sitting her on the floor and walking out of the room. She cried tears of devastation believing for the rest of her life that her father was disappointed and ashamed of her inability to read. For years, she mentally berated herself for being dumb, stupid, illiterate. She struggled through school and constantly tried to hide her difficulty with reading from others. By the time I worked with her in her thirties she felt completely unworthy of love. 

As she recounted the story to me, I too was almost fooled by the tale her eyes were weaving. I felt anger toward her father. How could someone do something like that to their own child?

Before I almost missed it entirely, I could quietly hear her Inner Wisdom whispering a new tale. I began listening closely and relayed to her what I was hearing. I heard the story of a man who wasn’t able to read until he was in the 6th grade and even then not well. The teasings and shame he had endured followed him to this day in his life. The trauma had infiltrated into every aspect of his life. He had never gone to college, never succeeded beyond blue collar work and overall felt like a tremendous failure in his life. He was so delighted and proud to have a child of his own now, but his greatest fear was that he had passed on his stupidity to his own child. That day sitting in the rocking chair with his beautiful daughter on his lap and hearing her struggle to read reminded him of all the pain, shame, and teasing he had endured and not wanting his daughter to see his tears, he quietly and shamefully walked out of the room.

What story would you subscribe to and how would that choice change your life? One story opens you to a life of pain while the other sets you free and opens you to compassion and love. 

Another client of mine, Jackie, was retelling a story from when she was 12 years old about her best friend Sasha. They held hands everywhere they went and spent as much time together as they could. Jackie had taught her best friend everything she knew about cheerleading so that Sasha could also be a cheerleader. Once Sasha became a cheerleader, she all the sudden ghosted Jackie. Jackie had been deeply hurt and out of this hurt she weaved the story that she was a horrible throw away.  A story that repeated itself in many of her life and work experiences, a failed marriage, and a series of difficult relationships. A story that always found her supporting others, only to be tossed aside once the other appeared to find success.

Again, I could hear Jackie’s Inner Wisdom quietly weaving a new story. It said, “Jackie and Sasha were the best of friends and that Sasha admired her beautiful and talented friend Jackie so much that she wanted to be a cheerleader so she could also feel beautiful and talented just like her friend Jackie. Once Sasha finally became a cheerleader she began suffering from severe anxiety and depression. She didn’t feel she belonged with the other beautiful and talented cheerleaders. She began starving herself to fit in and felt so much shame about allowing Jackie to see her this way that she cut off their friendship.

We have the power to weave whatever story we want about the situations and circumstances of our life. We can weave the victim narrative just as easily as we can the hero narrative. We can weave a story that brings us inner peace just as much as one that enrages us. As you weave your new narratives in life, just remember that what your eyes see will always deceive you. The story your mind wants to default to is rarely accurate or complete. When we allow our eyes to settle inward we are inviting a new narrative. It begins quietly as a whisper, but the more energy and space we give it to grow, the voice will become louder and more clear. You will have to choose which story you will subscribe to, however my suggestion is to choose the story that sets you free.

I have only one rule as you began weaving your new narratives. The stories you tell must hold both yourself and others in high regard. The divine in you must honor the divine in them.

If you'd like to access a free guided meditation to explore how your eyes may be deceiving you, you can join my free might network - CassieSeal.LOVE

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