Is Your Practice is Letting you Down?
When Yoga Let’s You Down
What happens when you have been so enamored by the gifts of yoga… by the personal progress and transformation, by the growth and synthesis of knowledge into your being, only to find that one day you wake up and realize your old demons are still there, tapping you on the shoulder, insisting you look them squarely in the eye.
I have shed so many unnecessary layers and found such beautiful depths I didn’t know existed inside myself and yet… I still feel the need to be perfect. Yoga has taught me so much about accepting who I am and to be ok with exactly where I am in this moment, here today. But that devil on my shoulder, the one who’s lived there my entire life and who will accept no less than some contrived form of perfection is still sitting there, taunting me.
And so I ask myself, how does one reconcile the knowledge that transformation is not definitive? That sometimes the struggle itself, in one form or another, may never really go away. It is incredibly difficult not to quantify the progression… especially when there are days I feel I’ve come so far, and others when I feel I’ve gone nowhere at all. And there are times, many of them, when I don’t know how to rectify these opposing feelings inside myself.
So what does one do? It is comforting to remind myself that yoga is a ‘practice’ and the joy, the high after each class never fully goes away either. The effects, I truly believe, are cumulative… and I suppose this is why I go back over and over. Internally, without cognitive thought, I am drawn to my mat despite how difficult or helpless the current space feels… and that draw is a direct result of the big picture transformation that is happening despite the small picture fluctuations.
I have gotten stuck in this before, wanting to obtain certain traits and be rid of others, and feeling the disappointment that not only are these things not readily available, they are seemingly unattainable. But what I’ve come to realize, and I’ve realized this only through the consistency of the practice, is that the evidence of evolution eventually becomes clear. Always. Today I am in a place of unpleasant uncertainty and old disdain, but tomorrow? It is unwritten. It is only through the magical consistency of change, that one thing that is ever present in this life, that the answers always unfold.
For me, it has become clear that there will continue to be times (sometimes more than I can count) when that devil starts to speak very loudly, doing his best to lure my energy towards all those old negative beliefs that have become a familiar and well-trodden path. But the beauty of finding peace within myself on the mat over and over, breath by breath, and of learning that just because today is difficult, tomorrow can still bring untold bounty… is that I am now able to see those demons for what they are. They are a creation like any other… a creation that can be perpetuated or discarded. And what I do with this creation, or any creation, is squarely up to me.
So perhaps I don’t really need to be perfect after all. It’s true… I may still want perfection, but the shades of desire have lightened dramatically and the imperfections themselves have taken on their own intricate allure. And the real beauty I now see, is that not only is it within my power to continue shifting my own perspective in order to keep recognizing these progressions, but that the shift starts to happen naturally, with less and less effort. When I really stop and asses the bigger picture, I realize that on most days, the fantastic in my life (and in myself) dramatically outshines the not-so-great and the gratitude completely overshadows the deficits. So amidst all the doubts, it is imperative to remind oneself that while the demons will continue to try and entice with their song, I can choose to dance to a different beat.