Last week my husband was gone on a 10-day meditation retreat. He goes every year at some point during the summer months. It’s always kind of strange to have him gone. There is absolutely no contact for the entire 10 days, as he turns in his cell phone and takes a vow of silence for the duration.
This was the first year he was gone in which I was teaching (he didn’t have time to go last summer) and, therefore, I found it quite challenging to fit my own practice in as I tried to keep up with my hectic schedule and fill in the gaps for what my husband does to help out everyday. In order to get my bare minimum practice classes in for the week I was forced to take a couple of evening classes.
Now, I’m a morning girl. I am a better and more efficient person in the morning. It’s when I like to write, teach, and practice. But balancing my crazy schedule while my husband was gone made it impossible to only practice in the morning. I was going to have to take evening classes if I was going to practice at all.
It was in one of these evening classes, though that I had a big break through. No, I did not rock out Standing Head to Knee and I definitely did not get into the standing splits during that 90-minute class. But, it was because my balance was way off, I was practicing at the wrong time, and I was completely engaged in what I was doing that I started to become frustrated with myself.
For the first time in a long time I heard my inner monologue talking in angry tones, questioning what I was doing here. Why was it taking so long to accomplish postures I’ve been working on for years? Why couldn’t I get it right? Why wasn’t I good enough? Why couldn’t I be perfect?
It was when the “P” word (perfect) entered into my mind that I finally snapped out of it. There I was, right about to get into Balancing Stick, when my mind took a turn for the better. Breakthrough time. The thought, “ I don’t want to be perfect, I want to be myself,” floated through my mind and I almost had to take a seat.
It was a simple thought. Nothing complicated or mind blowing about it to the average person. But to someone that has spent most of their life trying to hide the fact that they are not perfect from everyone around them – to choose to finally really accept myself for who I am in the present moment and like that person is a wildly different experience.
I joke often in my classes about how Bikram Yogis are crazy, type A, perfectionists. We love the challenge, the structure, and the goal setting the 90-minute class provides. We love to see the improvement the body is making in the mirrors and the fact that we cannot only survive in the heat, we thrive in it.
Perfectionism is something I have dealt with my entire life. In the acting industry its very hard at times to just be your self. So many times I saw other actors make a mistake only to learn they wouldn’t work again for that small transgression. Or definitely not work for a certain company, director, or producer. It was just best to act like you had it all worked out. You were perfect. There was no reason they should not hire you and work with you again and again.
But eventually you have to break out of the mold and constraints perfectionism puts on you. Aren’t the people who have flaws and made mistakes more interesting anyway? They have stories to tell and have learned from their lessons. So, it truly is time to embrace myself. To embrace the fact that maybe I will fall out of postures or never get my elbows below my calf muscles and my head to my knee at the same time. It just means I get to spend more hours in the hot room challenging myself to see if someday it will happen. And the journey will probably be more interesting anyway because I made the mistakes and had the flaws and overcame them just the same.
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