In some traditions, it is believed that we all go around experiencing some sense of internal void. Some of us are aware of it, some of us aren’t. I remember having this feeling of emptiness, or some sort of nostalgia since I was a little girl, and I didn’t know where it came from or what to do with it. At times it was bigger, at times it was so silent that I barely noticed it. Years passed and I never gave this much of a thought.
Then, in 2014, the inward journey started for me when I started studying Yoga in Mumbai. I maybe wasn’t even aware that I was embarking towards an inward journey, I just felt that a lot of what my Yoga teacher was saying made sense. I wanted to explore these teachings, apply them to my life and see what happens.
One of the things we learn in Yoga is that our mind is conditioned and limited by layers and layers of ideas and false perceptions ( I won’t explain here where it is believed they come from), and one of the purposes of Yoga is to help us discover these layers, so we can peel them off, one by one, and see who we really are. In the process, our interactions with the world become easier, because we no longer limit ourselves with these layers.
This was a bit difficult to grasp for me back then, but I liked the idea that all I need is already inside me, and that the solution to all my struggles is to be found inside me, so I decided to give all this a try.
Little by little, I have been discovering my patterns of thought and behavior, I have been discovering my limits, and as I go, I try to make some adjustments here, and some adjustments there to live more in harmony with what is.
Despite all this internal work, I have bad days, I make mistakes, I fall into old patterns of thought and behavior, and when it happens, I have to confess that I have felt devastated. I have tortured myself thinking that all the work I have done so far with myself has been for nothing. Last time this happened, I realized that the lesson to be learned in these situations is one of humility.
The path of inner awareness is not the path of perfection. Perfection is sneaky because I have never considered myself a perfectionist, but I think I am. Especially when it comes to myself.
Spirituality cannot be the path of perfection as we understand perfection, and here are some reasons why I believe this:
- It is exhausting: who gets to decide what is perfect? And since we live in the transient world, how long will this perfection last anyhow? And once I reach perfection in this, I will want to reach perfection in that, and it will never end distracting myself from what really matters.
- It is unrealistic because nothing is perfect. According to Yoga philosophy perfection cannot be found in the world as we experience it, but everything is unique. I think this is very valuable. We are not a “problem” to solve. We are unique just as everyone and everything else.
- It increases the gap between me and the rest of the world: the more perfection I seek in myself, the less tolerant I am of others. That is not spirituality. Spirituality is to be understanding and compassionate towards my limits so I can offer the same towards others. Spirituality is to see the beauty in me so I can see the beauty in others.
- It increases the gap between me and Me. The more I strive for the image I have of the perfect me, the less I allow myself to see who I really am. So in a way, I would be adding layers instead of removing them.
So what I have to remind myself as I go around in life being my usual imperfect but unique self is that my goal is to reach a state of independent internal peace and by putting pressure on myself about what I should or shouldn’t be, I won’t come even close.