In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, I want to share this with you:
I am a recovering perfectionist, there I said it. Growing up as a perfectionist, I treated everything as competition of how to be better, prettier, smarter, thinner, cooler, more successful… etc. I put so much pressure on myself be perfect until it was no longer sustainable.
I was probably 20 years old when a pretty intense bout of depression hit me like a wall. Within a month, I had dropped out of college in New York, quit my job, moved back home with my parents and my serious boyfriend at the time broke things off with me. After years and years of perfecting, planning, goal-setting, and dream chasing, it all just stopped. So naturally, I freaked out, said some really mean things to myself, and assumed other people were saying mean things about me as well. This took me down a really long and dark tunnel filled with self-pity.
Thankfully, with the help of really amazing friends, supportive family, and various forms of therapy I found the light at the end. One of the biggest resources for mental therapy was yoga. After a friend suggested I try it, I began a home practice while watching YouTube videos. But of course, in my default perfectionist mode, I attended my first public yoga class only once I felt
proficient enough in the poses. So, for months, I practiced like I would a competitive sport, just in a different uniform. I always opted for the most physically challenging version of a pose, made sure to keep up with the rest of the class, and considered class more or less successful by how much of it I actually could do. After only 6 months of practice, I stepped into my first 200-hour teacher training to I find that there was more to the practice than fancy poses and stretching. And that is when the light bulb went off.
After living through the lens of yes vs no, right vs wrong, and better vs worse, yoga taught me that I don’t need to hold a higher value to one over the other. Instead, I can experience happiness, sadness, excitement, frustration, anger and every other emotion while I am with them.
One Sanskrit saying comes to mind, “Mana eva manusyanam karanam bandha moksayoh.” This translates to, “As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.” If we can remember that we are not our temporary emotions and thoughts, we can simply be a witness to every experience without feeling bound to them. In that, we can find liberation from our own minds just by changing our perspective towards it.
Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.