Last year I took a pottery class from the owner and teacher at Yay Clay studios in Philadelphia (yayclay.com). I told my friend/instructor that I wanted to make something imperfect on purpose. Lately I have been retraining my brain to let go of perfection. I only do this intentionally in safe spaces like private creative endeavors so that when I am striving for perfection where it counts I put less pressure on myself.
I had never thrown clay before but I secretly wanted to make the most beautiful thing I have ever created. I wanted to construct something from nothing and for it to be the best thing ever made. Instead of being hard on myself like I usually am, I tried some positive self talk. I reminded myself that it takes years to get really good at a new skill. “This is supposed to be fun! And my yoga teacher says that art projects are heart openers”. Reminding myself made it easy to set the boundary that I was going for imperfection. I purposely made uneven patterns to surrender and just make with my hands what felt good instead of what I thought I was “supposed to do”. Doing what I think I’m supposed to do is a sure fire way to fail and to be really hard on myself for no reason. It’s like when you have a dream and are trying to explain it. There aren’t enough words in language to help bring the majesty of a dream to life. Most creative people will tell you that the vision they had for what they wanted to create often doesn’t manifest in the same way they originally designed in their head. That’s why I love movies so much. It’s the closest substantial creation to a dream there is.
Being proper all of the time is exhausting. Telling my teacher my intentions helped me reset a boundary with myself as well. The desire to making our teachers proud is a whole other level of perfection that is captured so beautifully in the movie Whiplash. The pursuit to make others proud is another “this is the way I’m supposed to be” endeavor that can either be dangerous or push us to greatness.
In a way I wonder if that’s where the pursuit of perfection started, from the desire to make our teachers and parents proud. Another place I am intentionally imperfect is yoga. I will give you my honest opinion on any yoga class you take me to because if the instructor pushes me to do things I don’t want to do I will leave. The point of yoga is to still our minds. The art of yoga is to get our racing minds to slow down and reach an ocean like flow. I have read the entire Yoga Sutras and it’s not about the poses we hold dear to our hearts. In fact the poses were created to help prepare the body for meditation, and the poses make up only four lines in the entire book. A yogi master is one who tells you to do what feels right for your body. Save the aerobics for kickboxing. Yoga poses are designed to help you stretch your spirit and your body to accept imperfection and peace.
My absolute favorite part of yoga class is setting an intention. I have said the best prayers while setting my intentions for class. “I surrender my life to myself”. “I dedicate this class to clearing from my day”. “My intention is to accept the poses I cannot accomplish and love myself anyway”.
The best part of heart-openers is that they show up in real life. I can now set intentions for my day, for a project, and through my communication with others like a champ. One class we were encouraged to be child-like but not childish. Child-like is the way we find wonder and joy in our every day activities. Being child-like is the way we tap into the essence of what makes us who we are before the first expectation was ever put upon us.
I hope you find healthy ways to remove attachments from your life. I hope you find ways to accept and celebrate your imperfections.
I hope you find peace in your daily decisions. I hope you find peace in the results of your actions, especially if it doesn’t come true the way you envisioned, because I cannot be the only one who is looking.