Today’s quote on my Zen calendar: “The purpose of our practice is to just be yourself.” (Shunryu Suzuki).
Another gentle reminder that we do not need to practice, practice, practice… to make (ourselves) perfect. Our perfection already lies within in. It is our job to discover it and bring it out into the light.
Imagine if each one of us stopped trying to be someone else; or some different version of ourselves; and just practiced being our best selves. The traits we each possess create the unique tapestry of the fabric of life.
But when we ignore these inborn traits, just lying in wait, we turn our backs on our birthrights. We walk around as masked versions of ourselves. Sometimes to the point where we even forget who we truly are inside.
So what if we changed our daily practice?
To one of centering the mind and the body, searching along our inner labyrinths to find our centers, the core of our beings. And what if we looked among the muck and mud that only we can see (all our defaults; the things we so, so wish we could change… if we just tried hard enough), and found the tight bud of the lotus flower, hiding in the deep, dark crevice of our soul?
The lotus: one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, whose delicate appearance belies its inner strength. For it can grow in the harshest, and ugliest of environments. Because it believes in its true nature: it knows that it is a flower and its only job is to open its bloom wide to the sun and seas of adoring faces.
You are the flower. Find your roots. Pick up that fragile, withering bud deep inside of you and sing to it. Bathe it in light and love. Coax it open.
Do not try to make it contain certain qualities that you find appealing. Discover the natural treasure trove of characteristics that lies hidden within, and start to honor, respect and celebrate them one by one.
Do this meditation daily until you start to feel your whole self open like that shy bloom.
Practice it every day.
Practice being yourself… your whole self.
And nothing more.
A more specified application:
Perhaps you are struggling with a daily practice of self-improvement. You want to become a writer, an instrument player, a mother, a student, a yogi, etc… This daily practice of “being yourself” does not mean that you cannot choose to learn a new skill or talent.
But try and apply the same principles from above to this practice as well.
I have found that when I stop trying so hard to be the “perfect” artist or “perfect” wife, I leave the door open for my true self to walk through. I stop defining what “perfect” means, or looks like, or sounds like, and I just practice at being myself while engaging in each activity.
I am already that musician, that artist, that teacher, that student. I just need to focus my mind on using that skill each day, and let the rest of it open naturally like the budding learner within.
Ever heard the term, “She’s such a natural at…”
I believe this is what “being a natural” means. It means not forcing yourself to be any one thing or another. Perhaps you won’t be a concert-hall worthy musician. But, at the same time, perhaps you excel at engineering new and innovative ways to implement an idea. We all have different strengths and talents.
We can all practice at any activity we want.
Just practice at being yourself at that activity and watch the garden of your soul bloom. Some flowers will grow taller and stronger than others, and that’s okay. You won’t know until you practice at just being yourself and then seeing what naturally grows and develops.
Try and stop defining how your perfect self looks like (and all the talents this perfect being has) and start nurturing the in-born talents you uniquely possess.
The world would be a mighty boring place if we all excelled at the same things!