It is not the perfect but the imperfect that is most in need of our love. – Oscar Wilde
Over the last 28 years, I’ve done tens of thousands of hours of spiritual practice. I’ve sat in long silent retreats without moving a muscle.
In those times, I’ve felt grace and light flood my mind and body.
Stillness and silence settled so deep into me that my spirit set sail on a boundless sea of awareness.
But as blissful and amazing and important as those experiences were, none of them ultimately helped me deal with the most important thing.
Yes, they helped me understand that there’s part of me that is limitless and untouched by the chaos and pain of our world.
And that’s priceless.
How To Feel and Heal Our Humanity
But those experiences didn’t help me deal with the other limited and imperfect dimension of myself.
I’m talking about the aspects of myself that I keep neatly tucked away under the bed or in the closet. My fears, anxieties, doubts, aggression, and my very human need for control.
For me, it wasn’t until I started practicing mindfulness meditation that I discovered how some meditation practices are better calibrated to help us feel and heal that very fallible, very human part of ourselves.
And I find that from that fertile ground of mindfulness, a different kind of self can start to spring. One where I’m no longer turning away from some of me while embracing the rest of me.
Through mindfulness, I discover that I can hold it all…gently. And in that, I find a more enduring sort of peace.
A Form of Fearlessness
I love the way that John Wellwood PhD, a renowned psychologist, psychotherapist, and spiritual practitioner speaks to this. He talks about it in the context of fearlessness.
“So delving into feelings might sound like indulgence, but I would say that the willingness to meet your experience nakedly is a form of fearlessness. Trungpa Rinpoche taught that fearlessness is the willingness to meet and feel your fear. We could expand that to say fearlessness is the willingness to meet, face, include, make room for, welcome, allow, open to, surrender to whatever we’re experiencing. It’s actually quite brave to acknowledge, feel, and open to your need for healthy attachment and connectedness, for example, especially if you’re relationally wounded.”
The great poet, Oscar Wilde, put it a little differently. But it’s a similar message. He said:
“It is not the perfect but the imperfect that is most in need of our love.”
Everything Is Food For the Soul
And finally, this poem, from a lovely and accessible chapbook that I like to read in the wee hours. It’s called The Way of The Wise Woman by Red Hawk. If you, too, enjoy poetry as a vehicle for accessing the cloistered vaults of your mind and heart, I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
For the Wise Women, everything is food
To feed her Soul, from the steady streams
Of thought to the rush of emotion;
The soul feeds on energy transformation,
Negative energy into love. Not fooled by the dreams
Desire spins, the Wise Woman stays steady in her attitude
And is not ruled by every changing mood.
To grow and mature, the Soul must be fed well:
Just as a chick eats the yolk to escape its shell,
The Soul consumes negativity to escape from hell.
How The Light Gets In
For me, what these excerpts and poems are pointing towards is the durable and stable soul strength and peace of being that comes from embracing and including our shadow.
Sure, it’s hard work. Yes, it might break your heart. Definitely, you will confront the darker parts of yourself. The “imperfect” that is most in need of our love.
But as someone once said, this is how the light gets in…through the broken bits.
And it’s all right here. That’s the amazing truth about mindfulness. Everything is always right here. It’s a practice of curiosity and presence. We ride the breath into the present moment and enter the zone of discovery.
And if we choose to look with that gentle presence and curiosity, we start to come home and to feel and heal those long-neglected regions of our being.
Please let me know if and how this is all landing for you too. I’d love to hear.