I finally got back to the gym this morning after three weeks of the worst chest cold I’ve had in years.
For one week I was pretty much knocked off my feet, and for the last two I’ve had to focus on triaging the highest priority tasks. I’m still not all the way back. Many things had to be dropped or delayed including preaching engagements and writing this blog.
On my (very slow) 20 minutes on the treadmill this morning, I listened to a TED talk, “Our Dangerous Obsession with Perfectionism Is Getting Worse.” Research studies show that this mental health problem has been worsening over the past three decades. The assumption of the researcher/presenter is that social media plays an important role in the increasingly widespread cultural focus on perfectionism as something attainable — and that other people already have.
We spent far too much time worrying about what others think of us and what image we project rather than on discerning and fulfilling our own deepest needs and values.
While I was ill, I noticed on a daily basis how challenging it was to let go of what I couldn’t accomplish – and how necessary. And being ill also took me away from the practices that center and ground me – time in nature, art making, meditation and so on, which I know I need as ongoing spiritual practices every bit as much as my body needs regular exercise.
The essence of all spiritual practice is to return us to experience our own inherent value as precious and worthy and our unbreakable connection to Spirit that is always running through us. How do we renew that?
One valuable practice is simply to name, out loud, to ourselves and others, and with full acceptance, the reality of our capacity to “do” (whatever it may be) at any given time.
A friend who is moving out of her house prior to 10 weeks of travel wrote regarding emails: “I anticipate minimal and lessening capacity over these coming two weeks.” The last line of my friend’s email reads: “I am wishing all of us resilience, faith, warmth, and humility in these difficult times.”
Yes. Let’s name our capacity as we feel it. And lift up the qualities that allow us to bring full acceptance to that.
I am wishing, you and me and all of us the openhearted courage to simply name our capacity for “doing,” as it shifts, holding ourselves with warmth and compassionate humility for whatever that may be. May we have faith in our resilience and find full self-acceptance of what is so for us – the most important capacities to build by far.
With You on the Path,