Being Authentic, Not Perfect
The quote we often grew up hearing in school is “Practice makes perfect”. We are all unique individuals with distinct potentials and capabilities that need to be respected and nourished in an individualized manner. So our quest is not be perfect, as defined by an external reference, but rather to be authentic to our true Self. This is true not just regarding how we look, but more importantly, how we feel and how we express our feelings and potential.
Yoga, especially in the tradition of T Krishnamacharya & TKV Desikachar, who developed Viniyoga guides us to be authentic. Yoga teaches us that even though we are neither inferior nor superior to others, we are most definitely not homogeneous.
As human beings, we have outsourced our knowledge sources to external references, by rejecting the natural wisdom which lies in our heart. We try to fit into the illusions of perfection as defined by structured mind. While structure in mind is necessary to a certain degree, it can become dangerous when we give it too much power and influence. Yoga teaches us to reach out to the heart and link with it so that we can naturally become a better version of ourselves.
The idea of perfection is created through the illusion of learning. Does a banana tree go to school to yield bananas? Does a tiger go to university to become a perfect tiger? Such knowledge is inherent within the species and all they have to do is follow their intuition and authenticity. None of them want to become another species. They merely follow their inherent wisdom to become the best version of themselves.
It is important to remind ourselves that
• Perfection is an illusion created by the mind
• Perfection does not exist
• There is no one perfect, never has been and never will be.
Authenticity, on the other hand, is more reasonable, natural and real. We need to honor our authenticity and use yoga to help us become the best version of ourselves. This is the message of yoga.
The extraordinary genius of the Yoga system is its fantastic understanding of the human mind. The modern world widely regards Sigmund Freud as the first explorer of the human mind, but Patanjali, the founder of Yoga system, beat him by at least 2,000 years.
Contrary to popular opinion, Yoga is not a system focused on stretching or contorting the human body in infinite combinations or levitating off the floor; nor is it a religious sect which entails wearing orange robes and trying on beds of thorns. Yoga is essentially the first system that uniquely focuses on understanding the mind, its problems and most significantly, its full potential.
Just as a banana tree cannot yield papayas, nor a dog produce cats, human beings too cannot be different from their inner potentials that are already coded within them.
When we grow, we look up to somebody and consider them as our ideal. This feeling becomes more intense when we engage ourselves in the same field. We want to become like our ideal. We do not realize that each individual is unique. You will be a failure when you want to copy somebody. You cannot become a replica of another person.
Some are born to be leaders, others supportive followers; some are extroverted, others introverted; some are quick on their feet when thinking and making decisions, others more reflective. Only when you find your authenticity and start stepping into it, you will become happier in your life.
This message is critical in today’s times. We want to understand objects and subjects through analysis or rationale. But that is not the path of yoga. Reflection and realization are the tenets of Yoga. The means to empower them is by silencing the mind.
While countless practitioners are trying to pursue ‘mindfulness’, yoga teaches a path of ‘mindless’-ness, of silencing the mind and offering a space for reflection.
Article by Viniyoga Teacher Dr.Kausthub Desikachar