Rethinking action and the need for control in our contemporary world
Do well without falling into perfectionism
To act is a central notion of yoga, and to force oneself to “do well”, in the sense of doing the best, is concomitant with it.
By this practice one seeks to reach a higher state of consciousness, but as brought before, the texts themselves say it: the obsessive search for this state would be counterproductive. Likewise, striving to achieve perfection and absolute control in one’s life is illusory. Moreover, we notice that yoga is not based on the idea of doing better than one’s neighborhood, nor even of doing perfectly, but of finding a balanced, comfortable internal state which opens the mind and frees the person. For that, it is essential to let go sometimes, not to seek to control the action but to find the “right position”. So, out of the exercise in itself, this idea retains all its meaning. To accept not to control everything in life, to be in the act without falling into hyper performance, not to live in a perpetual race towards success (without really knowing where this success is located, moreover), this is one of the first not towards wellness. Except that it is a step against the current expectations which encourage us to do flawlessly in all areas of our life. To do the best, yes, but within the limits of reasonableness, within the limits of his own well-being and at the same time as preserving his right to imperfection at all costs. And no longer to spend a mad energy in wanting to control everything, vital energy which could be more advantageously dedicated to being fully in the world.
Act without expecting anything in return
This is one of the central points of yogi philosophy: the action is done for itself and not for a result – often chemical. In most cases, the expectation of the spinoffs, the hope of regaining the rewards, is the only reason we take action. Without being passive for all that, it is basically about getting rid of the notion of performance. If we take up a sport or an activity (yoga, let’s say …) and we expect from this activity a greater flexibility, for example, but this does not happen despite the efforts, what happens? -He? There is frustration, disappointment, even abandonment. However, perhaps we have acquired something else in the process (deep muscles? A friend? A new way of seeing the world?); and unfortunately if the wait was too long it was not possible for us to see this stuff. Detaching yourself a little from expectations is a form of stripping, of the ultimate letting go which can become liberating and give back its rightful place to free action, among other things. For this, it is essential to fight the productivity trends of our contemporary world. On the other hand, it can generate anxiety like the very notion of letting go, moreover. So if it is normal to be afraid of losing what we cling to (expectation, ambition, purpose), it is however possible to conceive things differently. To let go is not to lose all your landmarks, it is to build new, healthier, more empowering ones.
Fighting unrealistic expectations
Yoga is all about achieving stable, fulfilling states and postures. Here, we must therefore put the emphasis on the term “reach”, and the notion of path that it underlies. Because as in any activity, any philosophy even, one does not ask an apprentice pianist to play Bach before mastering the solfege, one does not ask a young person to attack Everest before being at ease in hiking. However, we very often tend to force us into the impossible, generating fatigue, stress and disappointments. A yoga teacher will offer more and more difficult exercises in a progressive manner; one therefore does not attempt a complicated posture before mastering the previous ones. We therefore achieve mastery of our body, our breath, a capacity for concentration little by little, with the patience that this requires. This is an essential lesson, which must be applied to our perception of the world, to our daily life, to our work. Hence this need to get rid of perfectionism and the need for control: to seek to be the best in everything, in particular in the professional context, pushes to drown in unrealistic expectations which come to grumble all of our energy, all of us, our existence. If letting go of all notions, as yogi philosophy basically suggests, is not always feasible, we must at least abandon the too high expectations which are always sources of fatigue and pain (physical and mental).