It’s okay to be imperfect. We need to embrace it.
Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for yourself.
I speak the line above from Sri Nisargadatta and see the surrender of tight shoulders. Then someone in the corner of the room takes her first big breath of the night.
This is what it feels like to come home: to remember that even our imperfections are worthy of kind attention and loving presence.
For many of us, we see the ownership of what we’ve long judged as frightening.
Embodiment practices like yoga and meditation can heighten our awareness of all of our facets. Our anger, jealousy, distractibility, and addictions become apparent. It’s not for us to berate and hate ourselves. It’s for us is to get real and true about who we are and begin the process of radical self-love and healing. I experienced this teaching firsthand shortly after my daughter was born.
When I became a new mom, I didn’t just welcome my new baby. I also welcomed back a habit of wine drinking.
Long before kids, I had been an enthusiastic social drinker until I found meditation practice. Up to that point, alcohol, pleasing people, and my obsession with exercise soothed my anxiety until panic attacks led me to seek an inner refuge I uncovered with mindfulness.
After the arrival of my daughter, I found myself drinking again as a way to cope with the emotional demands of motherhood. Being a parent drudged up undigested wounding from my own childhood. I was unable to navigate my own needs with those of my kids, so I drank.
It was hard to bring mindfulness to this habit because of the deep shame I felt. I was a mom, a yoga teacher, and a spiritual counsellor after all! The self-inquiry that yoga and meditation inspired within me was quickly co-opted by my inner judge and prosecutor.
When I realized that the mean voice inside me wasn’t true, it melted my self-judgment. It was much easier to be honest about my addiction when I wasn’t believing I was inherently flawed.
Mindfulness is inherently non-judgemental. It simply sees. It says, “Oh, you drank that extra glass of wine and now you feel sick.” The inner critic, on the other hand, says, “You are irresponsible and disgusting. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? You know better.”
Embodied mindfulness created the space I needed to tolerate my emotional storms so that I didn’t need to soothe with alcohol. I reached out to my coaches and guides and started mindfully tracking my urges and impulses with curiosity and not persecution. In my work as a yoga teacher, I’ve embodied mindfulness to validate and clarify this inner, wordless dilemma. It was the healing medicine needed for lasting growth and change.
I haven’t had a drink since.
The spiritual path has a paradox that we are in constant reckoning with. We are reckoning the pull of both being and becoming which is the apparent contradiction of contentment and longing. To be human is to long. We long to be happy. We long to be free. We long to feel safe. We long to be loved. This is not a problem of separation. This is simply the way it is.
Sometimes, we try to meet that longing in ways that don’t really satisfy. This is when we end up judging and condemning ourselves.
My own longing to feel free as a mother and not continue the wounding I had experienced growing up in an alcoholic home allowed me to experience the deep surges of grief and anger that would precipitate my desire to drink.
This grief and anger needed to be met with kindness and love.
If we can see the purity of the longing itself, we can begin to forgive ourselves for trying to quench our thirst with salt water.
We think to be healed is to be forever content and happy, free from the restless energy of seeking and searching.
Yet, it is only through allowing the restlessness itself to exist that we find the deep soul contentment we seek.
It’s okay if existence feels a little shaky and uncomfortable quite often. This discomfort will show us a better way far beyond what we ever thought possible.
Right now, if you’ve sensed that you’re battling an inner war, just notice. Is there a longing here? Is there a desire to be at ease inside your own skin? Do you like yourself in this feeling state? Can you whisper a yes to yourself? Can you offer a yes to your doubt? A yes to your fear? A yes to all the ways you’ve acted imperfectly?
Go ahead. Try it now. What do you notice?
It’s okay if you haven’t found what you’re looking for. You belong to the longing itself.
Author: Carina Nickerson
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & Social editor: Catherine Monkman