Perfectionist or Master?
“I think some young people want a deeper experience. Some people just wanna be hit over the head and, you know, if then they get hit hard enough maybe they’ll feel something. You know? But some people want to get inside of something and discover, maybe, more richness. And I think it will always be the same; they’re not going to be the great percentage of people. A great percentage of people don’t want a challenge. They want something to be done to them… They don’t want to participate. But there’ll always be maybe 15%, maybe 15%, that desire something more, and they’ll search it out… and maybe that’s where art is, I think.”
The first time I saw this pose was back in the day as a fledgling yogi, when I practiced in my living room with Rodney. That’s right, Rodney Yee was my first-ish yoga teacher via a spread of miscellaneous Gaiam DVD tapes. When I saw it I immediately thought to myself “fuck you Rodney, fuck you.” I had no idea what he was doing or how to get into it. Frankly, I could barely stay in pigeon pose for a handful of breaths at the time and I looked while practicing, as a yoga teacher at the time put it, “like the Tasmanian devil.” It would be many years before I would be able to imagine even trying it. And the fact that I could dream it and somehow figure it out over time still astonishes me. Things change. They move and shift. Somehow, by divine grace.
Last month, one of my students sent me a beautiful piece of art she made. It was a picture of me made into a magnificent water color. Luminescent, really. Much more evocative than the original photo.
When I thanked her and tried to explain how touched I was by the gesture and how beautiful I thought her work was, she replied something like, “All I see are the mistakes”.
I understood it. Was it her perfectionist or the master replying? Perfection is an end goal- a kind of exacting ego; mastery is a relationship- a playful humility. Perfectionism is the 85% percent described in the quote above. It comes from a need to be a good student, to be right. Mastery or artistry are the 15% to curiosity and desire to get involved.
I see pictures of myself and my eye goes right to the areas that are shortening or lacking breath. You might see an impressive pose. I see where I need to tune, open or strengthen- where the pose can grow. My eye goes to the imbalances.
That’s the conundrum of a well trained eye and of being someone willing to grapple with mastery. Mastery happens in the space where doubt, trial and error, failure and not quite potentiated possibility live, therefore it is humbling, playful, messy, frustrating and joyful. It is the interminable search for the clearest line of connection to the divine (or ease or flow, whatever you want to call it), which is constantly changing and always slightly out of reach. Everything in one and at once: the beauty and the lack. Both exist simultaneously in a faithful representation of the process- where we’ve come from and where we are going- all right there, laid out in front of us. The tension between those two placing us in the present. Offering us a place in space and time.
It’s ok to see all of it. It’s our viveka (discernment) at play. And we practice, in part, to train that discernment. It is extremely important. It is our inner compass. It invokes respect and awe for the journey.
I’ve looked at bodies for so long, I can’t not see what jumps out at me. I see it with people on the subway, on the street- everywhere. I often joke with my students that I’m that asshole who catches themselves reaching out to help you soften your knees on the train, only to stop my hand in the nick of time and remind myself that it’s not appropriate.
It never feels like a judgement though because I don’t make assumptions about your locked knees. It merely helps contextualize you and fills me with respect for who you are.
I love the desire to grow. It’s gritty and healthy. This is the ride so why not make the best of our abilities in this life and strive to become the most luminous version of ourselves. Or get out of your own way enough to let that happen. So don’t forget to give yourself a nod from time to time acknowledging where you’ve come from and how full your journey has been. Don’t let the goals, set by the tyranny of your perfectionist self obfuscate the tiny nuances, for the answers are hidden deep in those quieter parts.
We continue to make the world we want every day by how we live in it. Finding softer ways to be with ourselves and allow sometimes gets us farther than the thrust of our naked desire.
With Miles Borrero
The Funky Om, Long Island, NY
Wednesday April 10, 6pm
(followed by Wednesday Night Kirtan)
Miles will be teaching a delicious, smoldering master class and joining the kirtan that evening. Come play!
WITH MILES BORRERO
PREMA YOGA, BROOKLYN
FRIDAY APRIL 12, 11:30-1PM
This will be for those practitioners or teachers hungry to explore nuance and refinement! All are welcome.
Sign upon their website.
With Isaac Peña and Miles Borrero
Naam Yoga, NYC
Saturday, April 13, 4-6:30PM
Third month and going strong! These tend to sell out, so if you want to come, email me to reserve your spot. Join Isaac and Miles as they combining their super powers into an awesome yoga baby. You won’t want to miss this!
To sign up, email Miles.
My table is finally here!!! And I have decided to offer sessions for $50 off throughout the rest of March. So come on down and get what my Nuqui crew was calling the Brain Melt.
Touch, of course can also be the most healing thing, respectful and wanted. Email me. Let’s make it happen.