Inner Reflections
September 7, 2020

The Beauty Of Imperfection

“True freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection.”

-Zen master Seng-tsan

The quote above, for some of us can be a tough pill to swallow. There is a part of us that very often wants to come across as perfect. We want to be perceived as smart enough, good looking enough, fit enough…all these things.

But the reality is, wanting to be perfect and wanting to be perceived as perfect all the time can have a shadow side. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do your best and to put out amazing things in the world. But it’s important to remember, whether we like it or not, part of being a human being is that we have imperfections. We have vulnerabilities.

Imperfection is woven into the fabric of being a human.

Amazing wisdom cultures have wisely embraced imperfection. As an example, there is a form of Japanese pottery where when the pottery cracks or breaks, instead of throwing it away, they’ll actually highlight it by putting gold into the cracks. Instead of denying the cracks in the pottery, it’s actually celebrating the cracks and the imperfection in the pottery which becomes a part of the art.

Another example is the Navajo rugs. Navajo rugs also have imperfections woven into them as a way to say life has imperfections and we’re going to fully embrace that. That’s part of the human experience.

Through these examples, imagine if we could re-frame the way that we look at our own imperfections. To deny imperfection is to deny what it means to be truly human.

“Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.”

-Donna Faulds

If you are moving down this path of needing everything all the time to be perfect, what are you going to create for yourself? You’re going to create suffering. You’re going to be miserable because this isn’t a realistic goal that’s attainable. You’re always going to fall short of being perfect. It’s going to be harder to feel gratitude and appreciation for what you have because you haven’t reached that illusion of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest obstacles to sharing your gift.

Author Brené Brown, a leading researcher of vulnerability, uses a concept called the SFD, the Shitty First Draft. The SFD is the thing that keeps us from writing the book, recording the album, starting the business or sharing whatever it is that we do. We don’t want to move through that Shitty First Draft because we see all the flaws, but that’s part of the process of genius.

So instead of denying it, instead of running away from it, instead of being scared of it, we must learn to move through that, let go of the need to be perfect and trust that on the other side of the SFD tunnel, there is going to be something that’s amazing.

Perfectionism also shows up in our spiritual practices, whether that’s yoga, meditation, or whatever it is that we do. One of the biggest ways that this shows up is, for example, if we go to meditate – and this is really what stops a lot of people from meditating – is they want their mind to be perfectly peaceful.

I don’t know about you, but it’s impossible that your mind gets completely silent with no thoughts at all. So to expect for your mind to always be perfectly peaceful when you go to meditate or practice yoga is again setting yourself up for failure. This is an unrealistic goal.

Another way that this can show up within our spiritual practice is a need for our environment to also be perfect. We want the sounds to be perfect, the temperature to be perfect, etc.

But you can’t control your outer environment. You can’t always control the temperature. You certainly cannot control other people. So instead of needing your environment to be perfect, work on embracing the imperfections within the environment knowing that this is what it means to be truly human and lean into the fullness of the human experience.

Have an open and spacious mind. You only sweat the small stuff when you’re small minded.

So let go. Let go of a need to be perfect. Let go of a need to always be in control and get more spacious. Allow those minor negativities and speed bumps that you encounter within the road of life, allow that to become less bumpy. Allow it to affect you less and less and less. This is why your yoga and meditation practices are so important.

Below are some recommended practices to help you let go more and embrace the natural imperfections in life:

meditation series


Yin Yoga Travis Eliot