Perfection

If thou shouldst say, ‘It is enough, I have reached perfection,’ all is lost. For it is the function of perfection to make one know one’s imperfection.
— Saint Augustine

When I finished my Yoga teacher training and studies in Ayurvedic health earlier this year I was faced with a river of emotions. The main ones that kept coming back to me, were fears of not knowing enough and uncertainty about my transition into a new way of living.

To be “finished” only means I know enough to have something to offer. These vast practices are not something one can graduate in, it would be to say that one is done with learning about life. I understand the foundation well, but still, I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me. Every step is a new exciting discovery. This is where I begin my journey around the idea of perfection.

My studies have taught me how to eat and live well, but sometimes life just doesn’t allow me to practice it perfectly. Honestly, it barely never does! I know that a regular schedule helps me stay centered and focused, but still, I find myself awake at 10:30 p.m., organizing in full pitta mode. Every day I work with the picture of being perfect. All I can do really is my best at every given moment. What my best is, changes from day to day, and even from hour to hour sometimes. 

When I teach Yoga asana I sometimes catch myself being overly critical and judgmental toward myself. I worry that the students might not get what they want and need and that I'm not good enough at what I am doing. This kind of thinking actually takes me further away from teaching at my best, I am teaching with my head instead of listening inward and acting from my heart.

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When I’m true to myself and act from my intuition, the class is nourishing for both the students and myself. If I judge myself harshly, I also hold my students and the people who come into my life to the same standards. When I lower my expectations, I allow my students and me to be where and what we are. Right there and then. 

Perfectionism is the opposite of sattva, harmony, and balance which is what a healthy Yoga and Ayurveda routine can help us take steps towards. Sometimes I don't even feel that perfectionism in the way I used to think of it, is the goal anymore. I want to be myself, fully and thoroughly with all what that means. I want to have highs and lows, and a full range of emotions without getting stuck or identify too much with them. I want to be in acceptance of what is, and trust that everything is on time, right now. Perfection can be masked as imperfection sometimes. 

As I began this journey, here are few things that helped me tremendously to avoid the pitfall of perfectionism:

1. Choosing one change I could commit to. For me it was breakfast. No matter what, I start my day in a balanced and nourishing way. I eat the right amount and type of food for my constitution. Mostly I have porridge or some locally grown cooked apples.

2. Surrounding myself with people who support my way of living. They help me remember the beauty that comes with a healthy state of mind and inspire me to stay focused on what I want.

3. Looking over my priorities every now and then. How do I plan my time? Are there people and activities in my life that don’t serve me anymore? Am I ready to let go of them? I try to do this monthly, what are you willing to commit to?

4. Making time for meditation and reflection. This happens regardless of how little time I may have in a day. Sometimes when I need to catch an early flight or train, it's 5 minutes. Or I do it on the train, in the car or on my bike. 

5. Making food a priority. I always have a few dates with me and often some nuts. This helps me stay balanced when my choice of food isn't available or when I get home late. 

6. Let go of the idea that I'm right. There lies astonishing freedom in the ability to say I was wrong, let me relearn, try again, or try to understand from your point of view. Keep your mind open and do your best to be in acceptance of whatever comes your way as if you chose it. 

Simple practices like these help me to let go of my self-judgment and allow the process of life to happen. Worrying about your mistakes won’t lead to any resolution.
Move beyond them and let go.

This was originally shared on the Hale Pule blog.
Find the post and others that you might also like here. 

Lisa Åkesson Stryker