If you're a perfectionist, then you may need some lessons in letting go. Here are my top five guidelines for letting go of perfectionism, learned while trying to record the perfect meditation, bake the perfect cake, and create the perfect bread.
p.s. The meditation is embedded below!
1. Let go and let God. You've all heard this one, right? You can replace the word "God" with any other word you like. That just works for me personally.
I recorded this meditation over and over. The first time was just perfect for me and is still the one I use in my own practice, but there was too much background noise for me to feel comfortable posting it. The second one was recorded first thing in the morning. Can you say, breathy scratchy voice? I don't want to scare you, just relax you. The next one was interrupted by goats. Literally. Which was followed by me swearing at the goats. And the one I'm finally posting? There's a baby in the background. That's my darling four-month old niece, Malia, if you're wondering. If the sounds of a baby might stress you out, I recommend you let this recording go and wait for the next one. I realized that in my pursuit of perfection, I was missing out on a visit with my sister's family. I also realized that this was probably a lesson in disguise for me. God just laughing fondly down at me. "You want perfection? Go ahead and try."
Lesson #1? Perfection doesn't exist. I'm letting this recording go, sending it out to you all with love, and letting that be that.
2. Sometimes perfection comes from collaboration rather than trying to do it all yourself. I have a magazine clipping on my wall that says, "Dare to delegate." As a perfectionist, I believe that only I can get the job done correctly. Which is too bad because sometimes I'm wrong. Case in point? A few years ago, I made a gluten-free cake for a wedding. I rock at making gluten-free cakes. I will freely admit that. But I suck at cake decorating. The result was a lopsided mess, and I was so stressed out over the cake that I barely enjoyed the wedding.
When I offered to bake the cake for my friend's gluten-free wedding this summer, I immediately asked my friend, Ashley, to decorate it. I'd seen her work and knew this was her area of expertise. Putting our skills together, we made one kick ass cake and had a great time at the wedding!
Lesson #2? Trying to be perfect all by yourself is just an excuse to hog all the glory. Share the glory and you'll have more glory.
3. The harder you try to make something perfect, the more trouble you'll have. I played soccer in high school, rugby in college. And I had this problem where every time friends or family came to watch, I would suddenly lose any ability I had. When I was just playing and enjoying myself, I did great. But the second I began to "try," all my skills and knowledge went out the door.
Lesson #3? Stop trying, just do. When in doubt, remember #1 above.
4. Perfection can be boring. Which would you rather listen to? Your favorite music artist's perfect recording on an album or your favorite music artist, live and gloriously imperfect? I know which I would want...
Lesson #4? Aim to be you, rather than to be perfect.
5. Embrace love, not perfection. Have you ever tried closing your eyes and imagining filling yourself up with love? How much does perfection matter then? Or what about when you fall deeply in love with someone? Does it matter if that person is perfect?
Lesson #5? I'd rather love and be loved than be perfect.
6. Bonus. You can find perfection amidst chaos. I have been having trouble meditating and doing my self-hypnosis lately. You see, every time I try, I immediately fall asleep. Even sitting up. But the other day I was at the airport and had a few hours to kill. There were people all around me and I was feeling pretty bored. And then I remembered my self-hypnosis recordings on my iphone. So I pulled it out, grabbed my headphones, and tuned out. For thirty minutes, I sat there completely immersed in my meditation and felt a connection to the universe I haven't been able to feel in months. At the airport. Go figure.
Bonus lesson? Everything around you doesn't have to be perfect in order for you to get what you need in life.
Inflammation Calming Meditation: This is a 15 minute meditation aimed at calming inflammation. For those of you with food sensitivities, I find it especially helpful to sit quietly, close your eyes, and listen to this meditation after eating. I believe that if you can train your body to associate eating with relaxation, you can significantly decrease your food reactions. And for everyone else, this is a great stress reduction meditation, which is always helpful for overall health.