Perfectionism…you’re doing it wrong.

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest…”

Pema Chödrön

One thing that kept me from developing a daily practice of meditation was the notion that if I wasn’t already good (read: great) at something or didn’t know how to (magically) do it correctly right out of the gate – it was something I should not be doing.

I suffered from the dreaded P word – perfectionism.

I have no conscious recollection of developing this as my personal business model – yet after less than two minutes of meditation practice…there it was, looming over me.

And it looms LARGE…

So much becomes apparent when you boil the moment down to its basic elements on the cushion.

I noticed that there is a lot going on when I am ostensibly doing nothing but sitting still.

Stuff like – all those unasked questions that ping pong through my skull:

How long have I been sitting? How did all these bats get in my belfry? Where is that music coming from? Has it been 20 minutes yet? What is the atomic weight of cobalt? WTF?!?

Which led to the next thing that made itself manifest – the reflex action of consulting my ‘Inner Critic’ to analyze, scrutinize and agonize over my inherent lack of awesomeness in the arena of meditation.

In other words…I told myself…I was doing it wrong.

Doing. It. Wrong.

I could literally feel myself recoiling from…myself?

From my own unsolicited opinion of what I was doing…as I was doing it?

What the Hell?

Thankfully, post 40th birthday life does have an upside or two – one of which I like to call:

‘Periodic Moments of Clarity Based on Accrued Life Experience Rather Than My Knee Jerk Emotional Response.’

These moments are much like the Giant Squid – they do in fact exist, and once in a blue moon they come to the surface.

Then I did what my ‘perfectionist self’ rarely wants to do – I sought out the help of someone who knows ‘how to do it properly.’

I learned that not only was all of this normal –even expected – but that by being mindful of self-critical thoughts (and not declaring them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – just ‘there’), they started to become more tolerable and lessen in frequency and severity.

I’ve had only 6 months of daily practice.  I am still a novice of the highest order. But now I look forward to my time on the cushion every day – even if I am doing it wrong.

PS: There is NO WRONG WAY!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas A. Edison

The Heart of Recovery meets Sundays at 6pm – beginners and 12 Steppers requested!

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