As I rolled out my mat at the start of an early morning yoga class, feeling quite pleased with my decision to practice first thing in the morning, I chose a sunlit spot on the studio floor. As the morning’s rays illuminated my mat, I then rolled out my yoga towel, which fits my mat perfectly. At that very moment, as my towel bustled into the air, a pair of my underwear that clung to the towel from the dryer flew across the room and onto someone else’s mat (cue the sound of the off-key tuba).
What does one do in a situation like this? Well, I scooted over, quickly scooped up my undies and with a bright red face, I dazzled the room with my awkwardness. The thing is, this experience is so…me.
The foibles of my day-to-day life can be quite comical. I’ve often suffered from the “What the hell is wrong with me?” syndrome. Being perfectly honest, (and yes, I know that yoga is about placing our focus inward and our egos are left with our shoes at the door of the studio), I have often felt inadequate because I am a yoga instructor and still have trouble binding.
I am also scared silly to even attempt a handstand. I’ve suffered from chronic thoughts of inadequacy; if a person in the room knows they’re practicing with an instructor, they may judge my awkward moments and yoga fails. From trivial foibles to painful struggles, I’ve been incredibly hard on myself over the years.
My inner critic is antagonistic and a relentless nag who seemed to follow me everywhere.
Staying Focused On Our Own Path
Over time, I’ve truly sat with and learned to practice mindfulness in that every single human being – regardless of age, fame and fortune, handstand practice or lack thereof -all share the struggles of day-to-day life. We all experience awkward moments, intense fear, and heartbreak, which leave us wondering why we must suffer on our path while others seem to flow effortlessly through life.
As I travel down my underwear-flinging path, I seem to always take notice of a car driving by with well-dressed, harmonious-looking people who experience joy daily. They seemingly have their shit together. So…why are we so lost on the path?
We long to be in the car with the normal people who don’t get aggravated by their loved ones or do mean/selfish things, or make silly absentminded mistakes like wander around a parking garage with zero memory of where their car is parked. Those people definitely have never had to pick up their underwear from someone else’s yoga mat.
Being Honest in Our Humanity
In our shame, we may feel outcast. These thoughts are an illusion. We have all felt our cheeks redden and our stomach ache with shame for our own failings. We are never alone in our foibles. It’s important to be honest while sharing our REAL story with others because this gives our fellow human beings permission to be honest, as well.
We don’t always have it all together. Our children aren’t always making honor roll, our house isn’t always clean, and some days, we feel a sense of dread in our daily responsibilities. In this honest space, self-forgiveness and real human connection be shared. We feel the need to project a self who is free from struggle because somehow we feel that if we allow others to see us, really see us, we will be judged as weak or broken somehow.
Here are a few side effects that I’ve noticed in being truly authentic in our relationships and expressing true honesty as we tell our stories:
We Stop Comparing
Comparison steals our joy. We somehow measure another’s virtues to equal our shortcomings.
When we can be truly authentic and share our struggles, we begin to see that we are all the same. If we shift our focus from projecting a wonderful story of flowing through life with effortless grace and strength, to being truly honest about our struggles, we may notice that the comparisons lessen because we are in a state of acceptance.
When we speak to our tribe and they ask us how things are going, try answering from the heart. This can completely transform the experience of comparison. It opens our relationships to a state of shared humanity, realness, and authenticity. This kind of honest dialogue shines a natural light on the true beauty of shared imperfections, rather than an artificial spotlight on perceived perfection.
Gratitude For the Epic Fails
As we embrace our imperfections, we can become inspired by how far we’ve come. We may begin asking questions like, “What am I doing today that I may not have had the courage to do 5 years ago?” We make room for inspiration, rather than self-criticism.
Very often, as we walk through this life, it is the struggles that have the tendency to force a questioning. We may begin to question our reality, as we examine what is really ‘’true.’’ As we tune into what serves our progression and understand which belief systems actually hinder it, we begin to awaken—we are no longer meandering through life in an unconscious slumber.
Here is where we find inspiration to live more consciously.
We can then empower ourselves and others to really re-focus on what we really wish to gain from the human experience. Certainly not perfection! Hell no. How boring is that? Embrace your imperfections. Let your freak flag fly at full mast. It will help your tribe find you a bit faster.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen