‘For years, because of my upbringing, I wanted others to see me as being perfect, so that’s the story I created. To myself, it’s not so pretty, as there’s no way to live up to personal expectations of perfectionism without inevitably being let down. In this way, Zen practice was triggering for my perfectionist tendencies. In Zen ritual, ceremonies, and general practice, things have to be just so. When they’re not perfect, you are told and corrected by multiple people. When they are perfect…silence. Rarely you receive positive feedback. My internal narrative reflected the judgments, opinions, preferences, and expectations I was experiencing. I kept suffering because of the monological feedback loop in my head that said, “You suck. You can’t do anything right. You’ll never be good enough,” and all of that fun banter. Eventually I realized that no one expected me to be perfect except for myself. And maybe ‘perfect’ is really just the way things are in all of their perceivedly flawed brilliance. So I slowly began to drop the expectation to be ‘perfect,’ and instead focused on doing things well and accepting things as they are.’ (from here)

This comes from a blog that popped up as a recommended read on my WordPress feed (the author doesn’t share her second name any place I could easily find), and I recommend it highly as a reflection on what a three-month monastic practice period is all about. There is less snow at Tassajara than up at Crestone, which I have yet to visit, though I would like to, but otherwise the details are remarkably similar. Which is not surprising as Richard Baker is the founding teacher there.

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