Tag Archives: imperfection

From Intent.com: One Word for the Year

courage

I have a friend who always starts her new year by choosing a word.
One word to focus on all year.
I never choose a word because I like lots of words. It’s hard to commit.
I like the word “superfluous”. I like words like “indigenous” and “lax”.
HOW COULD I BE EXPECTED TO PICK ONE WORD?!

Then I started reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown.
She is a researcher/writer/the kind of human I’m glad exists. She was writing about courage, compassion and connection. She said that the original meaning of courage was “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

WHAT. Mind blown. The modern use of the word normally refers to a person who is heroic. Acting like a hero. In later chapters, Brené will also ask herself “what is brave for you?” What is the brave way for you to act or respond in any certain situation? For me, it appears that the brave thing, not my first instinct, is to live a courageous life in a way that reflects the original meaning of the word.

This year, 2014, I’ve chosen “courage” as my word.
Trust me, I already feel just a little bit more in touch with my feelings than I’m comfortable with. I think that’s how this is supposed to work, though.

So what’s your word? Who do you want to be this time next year?

Other good things for you to check out:

1. Intent.com – Share your words. Share your hopes and dreams. Meet 30,000 of the best cheerleaders you could’ve hoped for. Check it out.
2. “The Power of Vulnerability“- Brené Brown’s TED Talk. It’s 20 minutes.
You have time.
3. One Word 365 – It’s a community of people who choose a word and stick with it. Find others who chose your word. Be a better human. Make friends.

Guess what – I’m human!

Smoke This!I think people have a fear of being found out.

I know this because I once had this same fear. This fear of being caught with my hand in the non-organic, sugar laden, big corporation labeled cookie jar instead of a raw, homemade dessert with DIY edible decorations. I have feared the wrath of my peers at not having read that book or been to that seminar, and having instead chosen to spend my weekend watching reruns of Hannah Montana with my kids, taking a trip to McDonald’s to eat a dead cow (I hope it’s a cow, whatever!), and letting them frolic in the play area while I perused the latest issue of my favorite gossip magazine (because sometimes you gotta know who cheated on who, right?). And I admit it: right now as I write this, I am enjoying a cup of Folgers coffee and smoking a cigarette.

I used to be afraid of being seen as flawed, as not “spiritual” enough. I was afraid people would see the missing eye on my blissed out bunny slippers or hear me snore during that last 15 minutes of yoga class, when what I should have doing was meditating.

So, like many of my friends, I scoffed at those around me who accidentally let their humanness slip out. I judged and sighed knowingly and gazed upon that lost soul with that look – you know, that look you get from someone who has decided they are somehow better than you, that they have tasted the elixir of enlightenment and you just don’t have the right stuff to play in their galaxy or dimension, that they are taking their unicorn and going home. But with each sigh, with each judging gaze of my blinded by light and bliss eyes, deep down inside I wished I, too, could just take off my crystals and that itchy hemp shirt and just wear my Walmart shorts and eat a Nestle ice cream and be okay with that, too.

I looked around me and saw that so many were struggling to keep up with the Jones, or I should say the Chopra’s (wink wink). This being spiritual thing is exhausting. It seemed ironic that the idea of living a spiritual life was supposed to mean living without judgment, but let’s be honest here, there seems to be a lot of judgment around what it means to be spiritual.

So what’s a girl to do who just wants to have some peace in her life, be happy and find joy, love and be loved, feel good about the world, who sometimes has wild experiences in what seems to be other dimensions, but could just be she had a little to much wine and well, you know, she can’t really explain it but it was really mind blowing, who sometimes feels deeply connected to all things known in this dimension and others, but sometimes wants to eat crappy food and shop at a discount store?

Do it. Do it and enjoy it. Seriously, go right now and do anything you want. If it brings you joy, do it because that is LIVING. We ARE human; we are all a work in progress and we are all here in this reality to live in it, learn from it, to expand within it and out of it at our own pace. There is no spiritual handbook with points next to each enlightened feat accomplished. Deepak and Eckhart are not somewhere up there keeping score.

Being human is in fact normal, and when I let go of trying to be anything other than human, suddenly I find myself spending more time doing the things that brought me the peace and joy and enlightenment I had been searching for. Funny how that happens: when I stopped chasing, it stopped running.

The Beauty in Being Imperfect

Minding the Mind: Week 5 of Yoga Teacher Training

Things are starting to get intense. I knew it would get here, but I wasn’t sure how. We’re learning anatomy, new poses, practicing yoga five to six days a week, doing homework, practice teaching, and trying to stay present for all of it, not to mention our lives and jobs outside the training.

There is so much learning happening that my mind feels like it’s on overdrive. It’s so stimulating that it can be very challenging to keep an internal balance and perspective. Interestingly enough, just when I feel maxed out on yoga, I then go to yoga and feel refreshed. The irony makes me laugh.

Wabi-Sabi

One of the highlights of our anatomy training is when we learned about the spine. We looked at each others’ spines standing erect and folded forward. One of the physical therapists teaching us anatomy spotted a student who had scoliosis. We all gathered around to take a look. As the student bent forward, the uneveness in her spine became amazingly prominent. Many of us were so focused on the apparent “wrongness” of her spine that we were gasping in awe.

The therapist looked around and started to point out what we had missed. “Look how beautiful and even her hips are. Look how even her shoulders are.

Le Grande

It was true. She was perfectly aligned. We had failed to notice all that was right with her pose because we were looking at what appeared to be wrong.

Our anatomy teacher commented on the beauty of scoliosis, marveling that, “The body will do what it needs to do so you are upright in the world.”

This reminded me of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. The idea that the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete are beautiful. And not just in terms of physical imperfections. Wabi-Sabi goes much deeper and is more of an “aesthetic consciousness that transcends appearance.”

A growing interest in anatomy is one of the reasons I’m in this training in the first place. The more I practiced yoga, the more I became curious about my own muscles, bones, and how they function. The more I saw how body movements affected my state of mind and being, the more I wanted to learn the how and the why.

Every week I have fascinating experiences that confirm my choice to make this investment. We are just scratching the surface of anatomy and how it relates to yoga, but I feel like a clear path of learning is being laid out for me to travel in the years to come.

The Why & The How

I had a really beautiful experience in class this week. We partnered up to assist each other into handstand. My partner was a wonderful yogi I hadn’t worked with yet. She expressed doubt about whether she would be able to come up before we started. As she set up I reminded her to press into her hands firmly, hug into her own strength strongly, and trust herself as I assisted her up.

She came up strong, stayed up strong, and exited the pose strong. The smile she had when she came out of the pose was so authentic, sincere, and clearly lit up from the inside out. I knew then that this is why I will teach yoga. Not to force people into a pose, not to give them a workout, but to support them as they challenge their doubts, face their fears, and experience their own power and being.

The strength we experience in challenging yoga poses is, in my opinion, not our true strength. It is merely an external reflection of our true internal strength. We sometimes don’t know it in our head until we feel it in our body.

If standing on our hands teaches us we can stand on our own two feet, that’s the deeper value of our yoga.

We can stand our ground in yoga and in life. We can commit to difficult processes in yoga and in life. We can grow in many directions as we root firmly in yoga and in life.

At the end of our day my partner expressed gratitude for my help; however, I really felt like I was the one who had been helped. Helped to remember my intention for teaching, my responsibility as a teacher, and the value of supporting each other as we grow.

The Starting Line

When things get challenging in yoga, it forces me to focus even more. The more tired I am, the more I need to be present. So it is with where I’m at in the training and going forward. I breathe in my poses as best I can. I stay present as best I can. It’s the same thing we need to do in life when things get intense or tiring.

Breathe. Stay present.

I try not to get overwhelmed with the process or the practice because both are more than an 8-week program. This is a lifelong practice and process of learning to teach, and I’m just at the beginning.

*****

This is the fifth part of a series.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

photo by: wildxplorer

The Beauty of Imperfection

 This is a story I was sent years ago. I’m not sure who wrote it. It seems important in these stress-filled days when we think being perfect is the answer to our problems.

A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the man delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

The perfect pot was proud of its perfection and accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

 After 2 years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace my house."

Each of us is a cracked pots. But, it’s the flaws we have that make our lives so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. Especially yourself.

I will be exploring the dangers of perfectionism over the next few weeks and offer tips for breaking free from its stranglehold. 

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / roxeteer

Self-Acceptance Manifesto

1.
We confuse perfection with imperfection
But there is no difference between these two
Unless, of course, you compare what is with what isn’t.
2.
If I could be right this very moment better, worse or other than what I am right now
I wouldn’t be myself.
But I am, perfectly imperfect.
3.
And so are you!
4.
It is always like that, not just during this now
But at any now that you are alive.
Present is perfect.
 
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