A saying landed in my inbox the other day, which got me thinking – it read
“ You were born to be real – not to be perfect”
It made me recall another I had read recently that said
“ Perfection is a ridiculous, made up word that means nothing – an unattainable state. Instead strive for the best, most honest expression possible always, of yourself”
How often do you struggle with the feeling of being less than ‘perfect’ – of not being enough?!
We often impose unattainable expectations upon ourselves in the quest for what we perceive to be perfection or maybe what we feel others expect from us. As a Yoga teacher people often show surprise or disappointment when I admit to the occasional ‘melt down’ or to experiencing emotional pain – as they thought I was in some way perfect – so above these experiences………
In both instances – whether coming from the inside or the outside, these feelings/judgements can seriously lower our self-esteem and in some cases make us feel like giving up altogether!!
Is Perfection possible?
The Oxford dictionary describes the word perfection as
“ the action or process of improving something until it is faultless”
The irony is that our ideal of perfection—which arises from the ego’s need to explain and control—inevitably keeps us from the actual experience of perfection. Is our frustration and struggle with this concept due to the fact that we are already what we seek to be?
There is no better antidote to perfectionism than the knowledge that you already have what you’re looking for. Just reminding yourself that perfection is inside of you—even if you do not happen to be feeling it just at the moment—can tip the scales and help you move out of a negative perfectionist spiral & the judgements that go with it!
It helps to remember that searching externally for perfection will only serve to distract you from the faultless self that resides deep within.
Much the same as the story of the Musk Deer who goes mad over the powerful fragrance of musk he constantly smells. In his madness to find it he runs wildly about looking everywhere for the intense scent. Everywhere that is except within himself!
There is a beautiful chant, which is taken from the Isha Upanishad that sums this up perfectly.
Translated into English this means “That is perfect. This is perfect. From the perfect springs the perfect. If the perfect is taken from the perfect, the perfect remains.”
Raising our Self Esteem
So how do we resolve the need to be perfect and let go of the feelings of low self esteem that often go hand in hand with striving for this elusive outer perfection – that something is missing/not enough?
The first line of defense against these tendencies is to learn to give yourself permission to – be who you are and where you are!
- Retrain your inner critic by constantly reminding yourself that you are indeed ‘enough’ just as you are
- Allow yourself not to be the best by easing back on impossibly high expectations
- Give yourself permission to do the minimum so as to enjoy and celebrate the fruits of your efforts
- Acknowledge your mistakes they are a vital part of your creative process ;)
- Keep your attention in the moment and embrace the present moment as it is………
What do you DARE to be?
This amazing poem by Jeff Foster incorporates all the observances above into the most beautiful and inspirational words. And is a great reminder of giving ourselves the permission to be who we are.
Dare to allow yourself to be seen.
Dare to tell the truth.
Dare to stop pretending.
Dare to stay present to the secret fire that burns inside.
Dare to be wildly inconsistent.
Dare to let another in.
Dare to let go of the image.
Dare to never be prepared.
Dare to give everything for the awakening of LOVE
Dare to fail.
Dare to mess everything up.
Dare to fall to the ground, humbled again, laughing.
Dare to dream and let dreams die.
Dare to honour the past but not cling to it.
Dare to give an honest YES and an honest NO.
Dare to be right.
Dare to be wrong.
Dare to be real.
Dare to be here.
Practicing ‘Being Real’
This poem is the inspiration for the following practice – read it a few times to absorb the meaning before following the guided meditation. Feel into any of the words that create contraction or a momentary pause/shift of energy when you read them – don’t judge or criticize – just notice the shift.
We will be using Shivalingam Mudra, which gently awakens insight and the energy to establish a firm commitment to release limiting beliefs to awaken to our true being.
We will also chant the mantra – Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – 108 times along with Deva Premal, calling on Ganesh to remove perceived obstacles in our path. Each aspect of Ganesh has great significance so as part of our meditation we will be focusing on each one in order to realize and integrate those qualities.