By Lisa Akesson
“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 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. I do not think one ever can be done learning about these vast practices. I understand the foundation, but still have a lifetime to travel. 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 live perfectly. I know that a regular schedule helps me stay centered and focused, but still I find myself awake at 10:00 p.m., organizing in full pitta mode. Every day I work with the picture of being perfect, but I do my best and that is all that can be done with the moments we are given.
In my Yoga classes I catch myself being overly critical and judgmental toward myself. I start worrying about if the students are getting what they want. I suddenly realize that I am teaching with my head instead of listening inward and acting from my heart.
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, I also judge my students and the people who come into my life. When I stop myself from having expectations that are too high, I allow my students and me to be where and what we are.
Perfectionism is the opposite of sattva, harmony and balance. As I began to take this journey toward sattva, 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.
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?
4. Making time for meditation and reflection. This happens regardless of how little time I may have in a day.
5. Making food a priority. I always have a few dates with me and often some soaked nuts. This helps me stay balanced when food that serves me well is not available.
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.