Discomfort & Perfection: The Crossroads Of A Seeker

The Perfectionists

First (and only) soccer game.

First (and only) soccer game.

I played soccer.

Once. When I was four years old.

At the end of the game I was crying—near hysterically—because I didn’t score a goal and we didn’t win the game. I hated it and I never played again.

The perfectionists among you might relate.

The memory has been with me so long, I just assumed I was born a perfectionists. But now, I realize we’re all born perfectionists. For most of us, however, I think it masquerades as an inability unwillingness to be uncomfortable.

Of course no one wants to feel uncomfortable. So we try to fix, control or tend to circumstances, people and the environment, to make it perfect. So we feel juuusst right.

Uncomfortable On Purpose

When I turned to my mom for help that day, she didn’t understand either. She was one part amused, one part uncertain of how to respond and one part completely relating to my experience of utter frustration. What she didn’t know is that we’re supposed to be uncomfortable.

On the surface, we want to feel good. Deeper down, we know something more is going on than the simple longing to win games, ensure that people like us and have the AC set to just the perfect temperature.

We want to get at the “more” that we sense but can’t quite understand. We want to dive into the spiritual.

We are always at the crossroads of being both spiritual and physical beings, and there’s a very uncomfortable friction as a result.

The discomfort, however, causes us to seek. This friction is, for many, the beginning of the spiritual journey. Without it, what would motivate us to practice? If we felt great all the time, how would we learn connection and compassion?

The Limited & The Limitless

Our bodies are limited, yet connected to them, to us, there is a limitlessness. This is the more we feel in the fullness of love, at the sound of a symphony or when we nail a yoga pose we’ve been working towards for years. We can’t quite explain it, we can’t exactly see it, but we know it’s there. And it moves us to action.

Sometimes we want to get back to that freedom (svatantrya) we felt in those moments of sensing the limitless underneath the surface. But sometimes we just want to get out of pain and suffering. Those feelings of lack, unworthiness and unlovability (anava mala) are the times when we forget the limitless nature within ourselves.

And that perfectionist? She forgets, too. She seeks to realign with the perfect part of herself that exists no matter how old, beaten down or tired she gets. Some part of her intuits her own limitlessness and strives to embody it.

Being In The Discomfort

The question, really, is what is the motivation? Is it serving to push us back into alignment? Or are we just caught up in the superficial details of the exterior and forgetting to peek beneath the surface?

I used to think that if I just did enough work I’d get out of this discomfort. But I’m not. And neither are you.

I’m always going to be in this body; you’re always going to be in that body in this lifetime. And there’s a certain amount of discomfort that comes from that.

It means we need to learn to be with the discomfort. And to acknowledge the perfectionism and the discomfort for what they really are —an opportunity to turn back to the spiritual and illuminate the beauty of both our limited and limitless nature.


Contemplating :: Bristlecone pine forest, White Mountains


Life At The Crossroads

Every yoga pose places us at the crossroads of both limited and limitless, comfortable and uncomfortable, knowing and knowing nothing at all. Instead of pushing away the discomfort, make space for it. Learn to dance on the edge of both.

Honor the ever-moving target of the middle with every namaskar, drawing your hands to prayer in the middle of your heart, right in that place where spirit and form meet.



Amendment: This post was previously released on this site but has ben clarified and re-written. Enjoy.