I know I am not alone when I say I am a recovering perfectionist. In my recovery I have observed that so often it is my limited idea of the world I live in and who I am “supposed to be” in the world that has prevented me from experiencing the beauty of right now as it is. Even and most importantly when it is imperfect. In my own life on countless occasions I have battled my ideas of “getting it right the first time”, against the reality that the process of learning to do something takes as long as it takes. Finding peace with the truth of the nature of my ability to learn to do things well over time, and not have to be perfect the first time around continues to create great amounts of spaciousness in my moment-to-moment experience of life. This spacious perception enables me to “let it be” as the Beatles so aptly sang.
Five years ago I began to take voice lessons with the belief that I “could not” sing. My perception of myself as tone deaf and incapable of hitting a note coupled with my perfectionist neurosis had kept me from ever really trying. Still unsure of myself, and wavering in my courage I began my studies in the magnificent tool of the voice, crying in every lesson. The blockage created by the limited perception of myself had manifested into an actual energetic block and the vibrational tones moving through and opening the block revealed itself as tears. Over time I came to find myself able to hear different notes and to hit different notes on command. My teacher has from the beginning been very supportive and negated my limited belief structure right away. I see similarity in the way she approaches our lessons to the way I approach teaching yoga. There is an opportunity to empower our students in these skills that as a teacher one has a more complex understanding of. Imparting the knowledge so that it may fuse into understanding is only reachable by working with where the student is at that moment, remembering that we all have the capacity to get better at something if we focus and return with discipline. Over time with support and a steady focus the blockages fall away, the tears become a revelation of celebration and skill replaces disbelief.
This year I have started taking guitar lessons. Just like my beliefs around singing I used to tell myself I could not play an instrument to save my life. Now I say, “Five years ago I thought I couldn’t sing, now, I can sing. I can do anything I set my mind to. It might take me the rest of my life but if I am diligent I will someday know how to play the guitar. I may not be Jimi Hendrix, but I only need to be me.” This is how I am coming to more deeply live the sweetness of “let it be”.
In the yoga practice we work toward surrendering that which does not serve, that which we are attached to, any limited notion of self, and binding ideas of what is, all to find the peace of “letting it be.” As a result the ideas of what we are “supposed” to be are of no use to us because we are empowered to learn whatever we want and change our stories whenever we choose. Someone recently asked me “What kind of advice would you give to someone to express his or her ability to not give up in the face of adversity?” My answer, “Don’t limit yourself to an idea of yourself that is afraid of not being good at something the first time and therefore unwilling to even try. Know you are capable of learning anything over time and where there is desire and commitment there is great power and opportunity.”
Whenever we can let ourselves be where we are at, and in that, not be limited to that place by our ideas of ourselves or the world we live in, we give to ourselves the most valuable of all gifts. The gift of “letting it be” which is the antidote to perfectionism. The preciousness, beauty, and perfection of life can be found in the moment you are living it, that’s why it’s called the present.
With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,