As a recovering perfectionist, yoga and meditation have been powerfully healing. Richard Rohr writes, “If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially in ourselves.” I'll confess to being a little tweaked by the idea of one day being able to handle my imperfections perfectly. Lucky for me, my practices continue to give me a zillion chances to surrender to just how out of reach even that teeny-tiny chance of perfection is.
My husband went fishing over the weekend. He loves this annual trip, and his excitement makes me happy. I will confess that just the thought of having the house to myself for two whole days also makes me happy. Or at least it used to. This time was different. Or maybe it was me that was different. Rather than relishing my time alone I was a little astonished to find I was lonely. It turns out that as my life has changed, so have I. Going forward I will change the way I approach these weekends home alone so that they are a happy break that "who I am now" rather than "who I once was" will enjoy.
I used to feel somewhat panicked and nauseous over in-class observations. The fact that my “upset” felt out of proportion to the situation was a clue that I needed to look a little more closely at what was really going on. When I did, I saw that I was not seeing the intention of these observations clearly and my whole perspective changed. Seeing clearly not only freed me from some self-induced suffering, but, as an added bonus, some led to some really exciting growth.
Fear can come upon us as suddenly and as hugely as a summer thunderstorm on a hike in the mountains. One of the gifts of mindfulness practices is that they free us to navigate fear one step at a time. We learn to recognize that most of what is upsetting us is fiction - worries and imaginings created by our mind. We learn to narrow our focus to the next necessary step. Most importantly, we learn that freedom from fear's paralyzing effects doesn't mean we won't still feel afraid. We're human after all!
Having kids in their twenties feels like someone has installed a revolving door on my home. No sooner does one move out than another moves back in. Each time the door spins I feel a surge of resistance to all this change. With practice I am slowly learning to to trust the revolving door of my life - to release my natural resistance and choose instead to welcome each change.
On a walk, I glimpsed a woman who looked just like 30-years-ago-me and rocketed down memory lane. In a flash I remembered (in really real way) what it felt like to be 25 and “on my way.” Almost as quickly, I realized that, while I recognized her, there is no way she would recognize me - there is no way she could have dreamed of the life (my life) in store for her. And this realization is exciting – thrilling even. I appreciate (from the depths of my heart) the reminder that I truly have no idea what life has in store for 60- or 65- or 85-year-old me. 30 years later, my horizon remains as filled with possibility as it did then.
Practicing to do a hard thing such as compete in an iron man, swim across the bay, or hike the Appalachian Trail requires us to show up and do hard things every day. It's important to remember that we’re not training so that the hard thing becomes easy. We are training to become a person who, in Kara Lawson’s words, “handles hard well.” When we know we can handle hard stuff, we are more tolerant of failing and more willing to try again. We trust more in our strength to face our doubts and fears. In short, we are more resilient.
What do you wish you c/would start but can’t/won’t because you are daunted by how long it c/would take you to do it? What if you took a good, hard look at whatever deadline you’ve created in your head for this thing you want to start and gave it a kiss goodbye? What if you decided to shift your focus from “done-ness” to doing? Rather than being focused on the finish line, could you choose to celebrate the fact that you’re doing what you wanted to do? When your inner narrator says (and s/he will), “This will take forever! A lifetime!”, what if you were to choose to reply, as you show up and do the thing, “Luckily a lifetime is exactly how long I have.”?
One of the hardest thing for us humans is not knowing. For me, the process of allowing new information to rearrange stories that have been mine for as long as I can remember can feel a lot like standing up after sitting cross legged for too long. Though it hurts to move when my legs are asleep, the only way forward is to press gently and slowly through the resistance of my body. Once I’m moving again, I always feel better. (Same goes for the mental process, by the way!)