I was trapped in a perfectionist body for way too long.
The balance between what my insides were telling me versus what the situation was dictating had me sort of struggling for when and where to sit and be quiet.
I needed the perfect pillow. I had to eliminate all outside noises, which also translated into calming the noises in my head. I was completely tuned into surrendering to the moment and what that entailed.
Was I to meditate in yoga classes? Did that time even count as proper and adequate meditation for the day? Do I continually ask myself these questions out of self-doubt? Finally, what exactly constitutes meditation for me?
Over the years I have streamlined this practice, and honestly? It is so imperfect. To a former perfectionist, it was simply accepting that wherever I was, whatever I was doing, however much time I needed to etch out in the day and the seemingly constant distractions of the outside world, I would provide for myself the imperfect meditation.
As the sunshine peeked through the clouds on an autumn day, the distant wind chimes singing their beautiful songs, the air feeling strangely not humid or oppressive, I plopped myself on an old wooden deck, complete with bright pink yoga mat, bedhead hair, and an unfamiliar environment as I was taking care of dogs that were not my own.
The first sign that I was in the right place at the right time was the sighting of a big yellow butterfly floating by from tree limb to null and void air space. It moved so slowly that my attention couldn’t help but be captivated.
The two Papillion/Chihuahua mix dogs were playing in the yard, barking at each other, chasing squirrels, and taking turns posturing as alpha dog. The neighbor next door decided to fire up his lawn mower at the crack of dawn. There was even an ice cream truck in the distance signaling that summer wasn’t quite over yet with the temperatures hovering in the mid-eighties.
I kept my phone out of ear shot. I walked away from the keyboard long enough to sit on this old pink yoga mat in straddle position facing the grass and fence. I have tried the cross-legged lotus, but my feet go to sleep and my knees don’t feel too happy. So, the legs sprawled out works best for me.
I’m rather antsy when I begin.
I’m not sure what will come up. Do I keep my eyes closed or slightly open with mouth ajar? I recently learned in a group meditation that keeping eyes open, tongue gracefully at the top of the palate, and hands in downward position was more comfortable and easier to sustain. It didn’t work for me. I like my hands open and accepting, with my shoulders down and back.
What works for me is meditation in completely chaotic situations.
Kindness with my meditation takes me far.
The little dogs end up coming by to lick my face, positioning themselves on my yoga mat, and sidling up against me while turning up the heat on my body with their fur. The distant noises become front and center, as the morning calmness gives way to more humans being awake and going about their day. I have chosen to meditate outdoors.
I am most at home in nature.
But, not having an ocean or vast amounts of space nearby, I make do with what I have. I am resourceful. I don’t sit on a meditation pillow that might make my body feel more comfortable. And, regarding soft music or sounds, I rely solely on what Mother Nature provides.
It’s so imperfect that it leaves me with the biggest smile.
If I can manage to be still and quiet for longer than 10 minutes, I feel like I have accomplished something. When my eyes finally open, there is a deep sensation of “wow, how long was I in that trance?” Even dismounting my straddle position is fraught with inner thighs feeling grateful for the long stretch.
I stand and bow down to the sky, sandwiching my upper torso to my lower limbs.
I’m still breathing at a slow and steady pace, the leaf blowers have stopped, the dogs are resting in the grass and the only sound is the wind. I know that my imperfect meditation took me to places that gave me one epiphany after another.
How do I know this? I go inside and write them down. I remember my dreams. I feel alive and awake.
Letting go of the perfection of always being in control was the greatest blessing in discovering that I can meditate anywhere and amongst anything. It is incredibly imperfect.
For this, I am more than satisfied that I’ve come to a place in my life that holds this awareness and keeps me balanced and centered. Even the neighbor walking by having an angry phone discussion doesn’t alter the fact that my imperfect meditation almost has to take place with chaos all around.
This is, after all, what life is truly about; discovering the silence when the world is spinning at its constant pace. I like my new imperfect self.
This is who I was meant to be from the very beginning. I have now found it through my own odd meditation practices, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman