So I have this picture in my mind of a prism.
At first I called it the “Prism of Perfection,” because you know I love my alliterations, but seeing as that’s an unattainable standard – and in keeping with the practices of the series this week – I’ve come to think of it as the Prism of My Best.
You remember prisms from high school science class? Multi-faceted pieces of cut glass or crystal that refract sunlight into rainbows all around?
The prism I have in mind represents me, or, more precisely, the choices I come across each day in my pursuit of happiness. Happiness, or whatever I may have chosen to seek that day whether happy or not. My daily pursuit of… me-ness.
Each facet of this prism embodies an area of my life that requires my attention and engagement (my spirit, my “light”) to function towards the achievement of My Best on any given day (to shine, simply). Variously made up of responsibilities and frivolities, self-care practices and hobbies, inner work and relationships, it is perpetually changing in form to reflect the shifting priorities of a moving center. One facet might represent the day’s tasks in caring for my physical home, another would embody a commitment to peaceful parenting practices, another could stand for my relationship with my yoga mat, and yet another for my engagement towards bodybuilding goals. There are facets for my work life, facets for my dietary and physical needs, facets for my social life, and so it goes. The Prism, ultimately, is the daily-changing sum of all the endeavors into which I invest my attention that meet my needs, either of necessity or of desire.
The metaphor deepens:
If I spend too much time or energy trying to illuminate one facet at a time, if I become too singularly focused, the prism (the external manifestations of my daily efforts) and the source of light (ahem, me) will continue to dance around one another, light bouncing off one surface and then another. The effect is as simple glass, where each facet receives and reflects the light trained on it specifically instead of allowing the light to move in its radiant glory. One day of hyper focusing on an exciting new design project may lead to neglect of that day’s yoga practice. The next day I may spend all my time cleaning house and neglect my best dietary practices in favor of convenience. Each day that I continue in this manner will lead me down a path of frustration and imbalance. Each day I may chance only a glimpse at the full light-bearing potential of the the prism.
If I, the light, instead seek the center of the prism, then I will radiate light through all facets simultaneously. If I aim my focus at that center point of refraction, then instead of my crystal blindingly lighting up one face at a time – which for me often looks like burning out on one project after another while struggling to keep certain elements of my home rhythm and structure in place – the whole thing shines a rainbow. With light sent in every direction, I no longer have to spend so much energy trying to isolate and choose where next to place my attention. It naturally spreads.
(It may not be the world’s most precise metaphor, but the visual was working for me so I went ahead and married it.)
What is at the center of your Prism?
I have discovered that the Prism of My Best is most brightly illuminated when I attend daily to my reverent self-care. When I am consistently engaged in physical practices that acknowledge my body as a temple, everything else becomes much easier to manage. This seems obvious in a practical sense, because it means I have a dinacharya (self-care) practice that – when in place – supports physical health, energy, and vitality. In a more subtle manner, I am daily acknowledging the deity within, like a custodian in a museum of divinity, making sure the conditions are present for the preservation of the masterpiece it houses.
The result, as it would seem, of tending to the body and paying reverence to the soul, is a much more energetic and focused state that accommodates the higher levels of productivity and creativity required to meet the day of my making. And so my current exploration is to play with all the different ways this dinacharya shows up from day to day.
It’s important, I think, to recognize the many manifestations of a practice so we can acknowledge them as they appear in their nuanced ways. My morning anchor, for example, might involve tongue scraping on one day, a neti rinse the next, or both practices in sequence. One day my physical practice may be a lengthy weight lifting session, and the next day I may only get in ten or twenty minutes of asana. One morning’s meditation may happen at night, and on a very busy day my meditation may be in the way I “Tantra-lize” the application of my makeup as an act of holy temple adornment, a truly satisfying self-love session.
If I only see the days as successful in which I can celebrate having accomplished every practice in my dinacharya tool box, I am missing the point (or so I feel). The point is to engage, not to achieve flawlessness.
And, of course, I have to allow for a certain ratio of days where it all goes out the window as an inherent part of my perfectly-imperfect process, but I could write an entire series of posts dedicated to that particular practice. At this point in “Part 3 of 3,” I’ve started to philosophize in the round. Perhaps it’s time to bail on this topic and ponder something else for a while…
Sometimes it seems like the simplest, most obvious practices show up like a revelation to me: “Go easy on yourself.” “Give yourself some credit.” “Acknowledge your successes.” I know I’m not the only Pitta perfectionist out there who struggles with this type of inner assessment. If you can relate, I invite you to adapt this My Best mindset – this willingness to shift your perception of perfection – and apply it to whatever you feel you could use a fresh perspective on. If you have felt yourself “falling short,” or are otherwise given yourself a hard time for not achieving your own impeccable standards in some way, try this simple, obvious tactic: remind yourself that your best is enough – in fact, it’s all you have – and perfection is subjective, even if it does exist. Maybe even learn to see yourself in perfection, especially when it looks different than you expected it to.
Proceed to practice in your way, because imperfect practice is better than no practice at all.
Can you imagine being gentler with yourself, more adaptive with your idea of success?
Comment below or message me directly if I can help you cultivate a fresh perspective and reflect your successes back to you. May you see yourself as I do, radiant and beautiful.
This post is part 3 of a 3 part series of musings on my changing relationship with the idea of perfection. In case you missed them, you can still catch up on Part 1 and Part 2. Subscribe to get the latest sent straight to your inbox.