Atlas of Yoga
By Laura Mills
Foiled again! Yesterday morning, like clockwork, as soon as I finished my fifth sun salutation my daughter woke up crying. No matter how early I get up and attempt to practice, she knows…. And if it’s not my daughter crying, it’s my cat—sitting on my mat, weaving through my arms and legs, meowing until my daughter wakes up. Or else it’s the laundry…or the messy kitchen…or the bills…. My quest for a workable home practice continues; regardless of my intention, I confess I usually put my home practice last. 8 years a yogi, 5 years a yoga teacher, and I still can’t get the home practice quite right.
Some days I feel lucky if I manage to squeeze in a handful of sun salutations. Most days, no matter how many I’ve squeezed in, I go to bed wishing I had squeezed in at least a few more. I feel heavy, like I’m carrying the weight of my yoga world. I shake my head and chastise myself for not being a more disciplined yogi.
That’s when something inside me whispers, “Put it down.” The weight of my yoga world is heavy, after all—the difference between the yoga I want to do and the yoga I do do seems astronomical. But I remind myself that this “burden” isn’t really a burden at all, but instead the trimmings of a life in which I’m doing the best I can to fill many roles. Time will pass, the roles will evolve…and so will my home practice. Maybe squeezing in a few sun salutations every day—or every few days—is perfect for me in this moment. One way or another, I will find my way and end up in the place that’s right for me. In the meantime I will keep going, finding little bits of success in the effort along the journey.
The Impermanence of Perfect
By Laura Mills
No fingerprints smear the mirrors; no lumps wrinkle the bed. No lint litters the carpet. The laundry, dishes, and toys are put away. I can even navigate my way through the garage without stepping on anything. This place is pretty near perfect—but I must admit, perfection unsettles me.
I had to impress if I hoped to sell my house. Prospective buyers want to see the counters, floors and other features clearly; they want to be able to picture their own belongings, not someone else’s dirty socks or half-dressed dolls, in the nooks and crannies. And I get that, completely. As a buyer myself, when I’ve looked at prospective homes I’ve wanted the same thing.
But near-perfect is more than just hard—it’s RIDICULOUSLY hard. Time and effort achieve an acute moment of it. But then maintaining it is another feat, one that requires constant vigilance. It’s so, so easy to slide from near-perfect toward non-perfect again. The minute the cat misses the litter box, or I forget to straighten the towel, or my daughter spills her cereal…. My attention to one incident allows other incidents to occur, and before long, I’m back to needing more time and effort to rise to near-perfect again.
Which is why, I think, I’ve realized I prefer non-perfect. It’s comfortable, even cozy. Most importantly it’s real. It’s my everyday, on the clock, up-and-down life. Near-perfect is okay for selling a home and buying a new one, but when it comes to present moments—even the messiest and most chaotic ones—non-perfect is perfectly beautiful.