Are you falling for the perfection trap?
We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don’t think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you’re hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time.
In yoga, and every other facet of our existence, we often fool ourselves into the idea that we must seek perfection. As this applies to the asana practice, we feel we must “stick” the pose perfectly. If we don’t achieve the “perfect pose” then everything we did building up to that perceived failure was pointless. Of course, this is not true. As I’m sure you have heard many times before, yoga is not about any type of finish, or end game, but is instead about the continued exploration of the paths on which we journey every day.
Perfection exists within this exploration. It exists in our ability not to attach to any particular moment, but to instead revel in every moment. We are ALL capable of doing this by releasing our mind’s grip on our perceptions of the past and the future. Our memories of the past, and our ideas of what the future holds are all perceptions in our mind. Therefore, the Past and the Future are illusions of our perceptions. They are hallucinatory, subjective interpretations that our minds create to take us away from the true reality of the present moment, which resides within each inhalation and exhalation of our breath.
As we continue to explore ways of letting go of the past and future, with each release of that which we carry from both, there is more room to realize the only truly relevant moments in our existence are the ones we are living right now! The more dropped in we are to being in the here and now, the less attached we become to our perceptions of the past and future.
Think about it.
If you are focused on this moment, with the idea that right now, the breath you are taking, is all that truly matters, then every moment you hold this level of awareness becomes the most important moment in your life. Time ceases to function in the linear sense and the cycle of breath becomes your clock. You begin to detach yourself from the perceived external necessities that surround you, and proceed to drop into the internal flame that burns within using your breath as fuel. Every moment becomes relevant and every interaction becomes sacred in its quality.
Further, this means that, although we have had great moments in the past that help us feel great, we have also had challenging and difficult moments that have brought us down. As we spend our time living in the past, we often try hanging on to every high moment we’ve ever experienced; but this means we also suffer through and relive every low moment as well, no matter how much we try to avoid it. If we relive our past, we don’t get to pick and choose only the “good” memories.
This instability of the mind is why the roller coaster metaphor is so often attached to our mental state. Living in the past is a Pandora’s Box. Although we may fool ourselves into believing otherwise, we don’t get to simply select the memories we want to remember, and throw away the rest as if they never happened. We may be able to block bad memories out in some capacity, but they will manifest in some other area of our lives, be it physical, mental or spiritual.
However, if we release ourselves completely from living in the past by giving ourselves permission to let go, then we are giving ourselves the opportunity to be fully present in this moment right now. We are no longer relegated to reliving the same roles over and over again. We are uprooting these long ingrained pathways of our existence, and creating newer, better paths for moving forward. We are opening up the possibility to being fully engaged and dropped in to our current existence, as it stands right now.
Along with living in the past can come the worry of what will happen in the future. In fact, our focus can become so strong in preparing for what we think will happen, that we often lose our awareness of what is happening around us right now. Again, we run into the same issue of cheating ourselves of the ability to be fully present, whether it is simple or challenging; instead, we are enmeshing ourselves in a thought process that involves an attempt at clairvoyance instead of allowing ourselves to be in this moment of genuine Truth. It is much easier to prepare for any events that may occur in the future if you allow yourself to be present with what is happening right now. Worrying about something that has not happened yet is a fruitless effort because, if anything, by attaching fear and worry to it, you are more likely to manifest this negative outcome instead of surrendering to and finding acceptance with what is happening right now.
If you choose not to be present, then you may miss an opportunity to experience whatever the Universe is offering to help you continue on your journey to enlightenment.
Living in the present moment gives your life purpose and meaning for the very reason that there is always an opportunity to give to, or receive an offering from this vast Universe in which we live.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.
Andrew Gurvey is an Engineer for the Fire Protection Division of Underwriters Laboratories by day, and a yoga teacher by night. Andrew has been a student of yoga for 6 years, and a teacher for 1. Andrew’s arrival to the yoga mat was a long and winding road that has since turned into a powerful, focused journey. You can read his full bio via his website or connect with him via Facebook.