True Confessions: I do not always do yoga every day.
Can I count it if I teach several practices in one day? My mind grasps at ways to make the grade, to position myself so that I, and everyone else, can judge me more favorably. Obviously there is favor or status, admiration or expertise attached to how this may look to myself and others. In my life whether I am "doing yoga every day" is not really relevant. I can choose to get to the mat every day, or choose to practice in any number of other ways. In fact I do contemplate yoga and yoga principles pretty much every day, and more often than not find my way to an asana practice. Yet, as an example to my students shouldn't I be on that mat every day? This is a natural way of thinking, but establishes a framework constrained by a false idea of self based on judgments of good and bad. This way of thinking equates consistency in one behavior with my value and worth.
It seems to me that the goals we set are best seen as general understandings. It can certainly make sense to establish a sketch for an action plan to get something done, or to acknowledge steps and stages that might be useful in a process. In my opinion though, it is perhaps even more important to see how we use self judgment, take a look at when we hold ourselves up to scrutiny and what criteria we apply as we take a position about our progress or behavior, appearance, or state of being. Judging ourselves can be the least honest assessment of what is happening, and can actually lead to creating a false sense of self to protect against what may be the "truth." There is great pain and suffering caused in this attachment to judgment.
Nobody's perfect yet we are all whole. That's the mantra I use to remind myself to separate things I might have done or thought from defining the core of my self. This was actually visible in my children as they grew. They may have lacked sensitivity in an area that caused harm or a different decision than I might have wished, but it did not mean that they themselves were fatally flawed. As they grew they came to understand such a wide variety of matters in different ways. Taking on and shedding understandings like snakes do their skin. In fact their bodies changed in much the same way. If they were to be judged by how they appeared in one single moment, they would have been condemned to struggle against their own growth to maintain that moment artificially. This continues til the end of breath, and I see that at any given moment they were completely whole and ever-changing. No longer thinking in judgmental terms that they were incomplete... simply that they were fully themselves in the moment, subject to the conditional world, using the ways they were learning to do and be. The goal was not perfection, but rather awareness that brings understanding. This remains so for them and for me even as childhood recedes into the past.
Subject to the conditional world around us, that illusion of how things are and what they mean, we all make choices based on what we have learned about cause and effect, about our own abilities or preferences, about our fears and anxieties, and about our feelings. A lot of this can remain forceful in an invisible way, that can make us feel like the object rather than the subject of our lives. All of these factors can change in a moment, not just what we know, but actually how we act based on that.
A few minutes of meditation can illuminate a great deal. It may begin with what it actually is to be your human body sitting, never mind the enormous effort of sitting still! It can change your way of understanding yourself and the world if you give yourself the opportunity to drop your attachments to your thoughts and feelings even for a short time. Allowing your attention to follow your breath, to notice the way this body receives information and transmits that to this mind, you can watch the way your mind processes information and translates it into feelings, and urges behaviors. Continue sitting through the urges to move your knees or to judge your thoughts, watching how these impulses rise and fall, and begin to investigate how you have attached to these impulses. Begin to let that go. Notice how what was comfortable becomes uncomfortable, becomes comfortable, becomes uncomfortable. Watch how emotions rise and fall in relation to this, the story begins to unfold. You can label the feelings as feelings, or the thoughts as thoughts. You can let the story go too, smile and call it what it is, the story.
The simple act of sitting 5-10 minutes can start to release your judgmental mind. You may feel the flood of dis-ease and ease, the moments of movement and stillness, that open space where nobody's perfect and everything just is. Perhaps this lasts only a fraction of a second before the thoughts come galloping in again, but give yourself a few opportunities to practice with a willingness to make the inquiry. Simply allow the possibilities to continue opening.
You are already whole. You are present right now. You will continue to change. There is a sense of joy and sorrow, fullness and emptiness that comes with understanding how this is, to just be. It is the same feeling that comes when you realize that there is nothing imperfect in you, that you just are in this moment, formed by your understandings and enabled by the openness you can give yourself. We can release the duality of judgment that forces us into defining ourselves as anything other than perfect. Nobody's perfect? Really?