“What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise? What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature – gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present? What if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough?” – Oriah
One well-known definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I have come to regard the search for perfection as one example of this kind of insanity. I have always been suspicious of perfection, preferring instead a full life to a perfect one, and yet I have often found myself in search of this elusive quality. On the yoga mat it’s possible to do the form of a posture without being in optimal alignment. The pose can look great to an observer and even feel great for a while. But as long as we remain on the surface level of awareness focused on how good something looks, or “nailing” a pose perfectly without paying attention to alignment, we risk misalignment which will eventually manifest as an injury. When we are focused on doing something perfectly we fail to honor our unique human limitations. We can stretch beyond our appropriate limits and suffer the consequences emotionally and physically. In order to have a full experience we have to go deeper than the search for perfection and grasp that in our essence we are already enough. This applies both on and off the mat.
Another less well known definition of insanity is “the extent to which you are trying to be someone you are not.” The Bhagavad-Gita teaches that it is better to be mediocre in your own dharma than to excel in someone else’s. Another way of putting it: you already are who you are trying to become. You’ve always been the person you are becoming, so get to know yourself in all your resplendent uniqueness and get good at being you. It is a misalignment to try to be someone or something you are not. Doing so will inevitably result in injury physically, psychologically, or more profoundly to your soul.
We feel good when we align with our most exquisite qualities within. We don’t need to go outside ourselves to discover our wisdom, our beauty, our talent, or our knowledge. Everything is full and complete in its essence, in its potential. We want to open to the thought of our fullness and completeness in every aspect of our being and give up the search for perfection.
A seed holds within itself the potential of being itself. It cannot become what it is not. If planted in rich soil and given the optimal conditions for growth, a rose seed will not blossom into a lotus no matter how much it may want to or how hard it tries. It can only fulfill the potential of its own “is-ness” – its own being.
Like the rose or the lotus you can only become who you already are. You can only fulfill your own potential. You cannot fulfill someone else’s no matter how many self-help books you read, personal growth seminars you sign up for, psychotherapists you see, or yoga classes you attend. You already are who you’re trying to become. This does not mean you should not aspire to grow. It does mean you should aspire to be clear that the answers to who you are lie deep within your own being, not outside of yourself. Optimal growth constitutes going deeper into yourself to become more of who you already are, not someone or something different or better than you are.
We must learn to trust our potential to fulfill itself in us as us. You are, after all, the point the universe is trying to make. So our work is to turn within to the highest level of consciousness in our own being. The journey is not an outward-bound quest, but is about realizing our deepest nature and trusting the wisdom of the Universe to fulfill itself through us.
Who you are is much more than personality or personal circumstance. Who you are is an expression of the creative principle that governs all life. In our search for perfection we tend to look outside ourselves to discover our purpose, our potential, our destiny. As a result, we find ourselves fulfilling a destiny of our own limited thinking that we have chosen for ourselves, or a destiny that circumstances have thrust upon us.
The world needs more of who you are, not less. Accepting your potential for being who you already are is not a limitation. On the contrary, stepping more fully into who you already are opens the possibility of becoming even more of you and with it the promise of a fulfilling if not a perfect life.