December 2, 2011

The Pregnant Yogini: Perfection, please.

I would like everything to be perfect before baby arrives. Perfect. No less.

There’s gardening to deal with, a nursery to be painted, renovations to finish, blankets to be sewn – it appears as though my ‘to do’ list is getting longer, not shorter.

But I seem to have forgotten one thing: life will go on after baby arrives. Even if I did manage to tick off everything on the list, new lists will grow and multiply after the birth.

Sound familiar? We do this to ourselves all the time. We say things like “life will be better as soon as x” or “I’ll feel better when I’m in control of x” or “if only x, everything would be fine”. We are serious control freaks. You may or may not be the kind of person that needs your pens lined up just so and the day planned down to the letter, but chances are you crave control in many areas of your life. It can be tremendously disappointing when that defining event (‘x’) comes to be, and life still isn’t a picture of perfection.

The yogic concept of santosha (contentment) is helpful here.  The beautiful thing about contentment is that it doesn’t stop us from working towards goals. It isn’t a sense of complacency – rather, it’s one of equanimity. It simply means that regardless of where we are on the road to meeting our goal(s), we’re still okay with where we’re at.

I hope to instill a sense of contentment in my child (no, your happiness isn’t dependent on that new bike) – so I better practice what I preach.

Contentment can seem frustratingly out of reach at times. When I feel this way, I like to contemplate the words to the ‘Perfect Song’ – a chant I learnt during my yoga teacher training:

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudacyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashishyate

Roughly translated, these words mean that everything is perfect or whole (purna). If we take the perfect away from the perfect, we are still left with perfection.

Taking it a little further, yoga tells us that everything is perfect already – just as it is. This might be hard to accept when a quick look at our own life or the lives of those around us seem to suggest otherwise. But think about this: in this moment – right now – reality can’t be any other way. So it is perfect or whole just as it is – regardless of the things we think must be achieved before we can be happy.

In the lead up to baby’s arrival I’m going to keep working towards my goals (I’d really like to get rid of the weeds in the garden, have a hand-made blanket for baby to play on, and have the baby’s room spruced up with a fresh coat of paint). But in amongst the gardening, organising and nesting, I’m going to aim to see the perfection around me and be content with whatever is left ‘undone’.

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Erica Webb  |  Contribution: 2,300