Perfect Granola

It was not perfect. It looked decent, but in my excitement, a few extra dashes of salt had cascaded in. To me, it tasted rather savory. I mean, it was still good, but not exactly what I was going for. Before I could change my mind, I swiftly jarred it, zipped it into my bag, and walked out the door. Well, it would have to do.

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You know what’s so perfect about granola?

There are no hard and fast rules. It has no right or wrong recipe. No measurements. No timing.

You can toss in a little more of this, a little less of that.

You can toast it a little. You can toast it a lot.

You can go classic, with almonds and raisins.

You can get fancy or with flax seeds and cranberries.

It is still darn good.

Granola wears no make up.  Everything starts out as raw almonds, simple seeds, honest oats. And from the purity of these elements, comes a symphony that toasts into perfection, almost effortlessly. Recipe here.

I am suddenly reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

per·fec·tion /PURR – FEK – SHUN/

 the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects

I’ve been toying around with this concept ever since I’ve moved to Boston, which is now already three months. How time flies. Let me see if I can articulate what’s been passing through my mind.

The media puts this “perfection idea” into a box, a size, a shape, a rating, something outside of what we already possess: If you buy this watch or wear this brand or become like this celebrity or drive this car, you can achieve perfection. Does anyone remember that game, “POP! Goes Perfection” where you must place all the pieces exactly back into their place before the buzzer goes off?

Interestingly, perfection is also what the sadhaka, or student of yoga, is looking for in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. Yoga sutra 2:47 writes: “Perfection in asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.”

Hold on. Wait a minute.

My yoga practice will take lifetimes to ever be like Guruji BKS Iyengars. And when I sit down to meditate or practice pranayama, my mind often starts wandering to silly things, like the 72% bar of chocolate sitting in the secret spot, waiting for me. Will perfection ever be possible?

Clearly, this word has many powers, many interpretations. Perhaps there is more to it.

My experience with perfection is changing.

Before, it was to be a perfect student, to get that A in Mrs Fujita’s biology class. It was waking up at 5am to make my hair perfectly straight hair for each day of high school. It was training hard everyday to get a perfect time in my race. It was pushing myself to achieve symmetry in my asana practice. It was always being on time. It was rules, it was schedules, it was numbers, shapes.

You know…I recently heard a story about my teacher. When Guruji BKS Iyengar would perform sirsasana, the head-balance, he was not in precise alignment all the time. Sometimes his elbows were splayed too wide, and sometimes one shoulder would drop, but yet, he was maintaining the pose for 30, 40, 60 minutes at a time in a state of total concentration, ease, surrender, complete love.

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The more I read and learn and experience, the more I agree with Captain Barbossa and Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean who say, hang the rules, the pirates’ code are more like “guidelines” anyway.

Here, my life in Boston has taken a very different approach. I have been less “perfect” than I have ever been if using my past definition. It is almost frightening to admit. I’ve been less rigid with my schedule, leaving time to cook good meals and check in with myself rather than spreading myself too thin. Sometimes I leave the apartment with my hair still wet and frizzy from the shower to run to Trader Joes. Oops.  I no longer believe that a “perfect” shape in yoga really exists, which drastically changes my intentions when I come to my yoga mat. I work now in small pieces, with curiosity, looking for lightness. It’s never boring, only extremely fascinating.FullSizeRender-2

I’ve been more spontaneous, allowing myself to waste invest time going on adventures, eating new foods, tasting wines, sitting in parks. I’ve been quiet. I’ve been loud. I’ve chosen to spend time in places that bring me happiness, wellness, and the least amount of stress, even if it does not seem like the most productive or most successful or most beneficial choice.

And it feels, well, closer to perfect than before.

Guruji Iyengar writes that perfection already exists within us and we just have to pause, surrender, and simplify to discover it, rather than go outside searching for it. True perfection is something subtle and fluid.

Doesn’t that idea bring you some form of joy, some sort of relief? It does to me.

Besides, nature, or prakriti is constantly changing and working against anything rigid, anything fixed. The architecture really stands no chance. The wind will scatter the dandelion into a flurry of white seeds, water will wash away your sandcastle, the sun will soften the tannic structures in a bottle of red wine.

OKAY. I think I’ve written what I think I mean to say. Thank you for reading and letting me share.

P.S. If you’ve been wondering what happened to the granola, so am I! It disappeared into the tummies of yogis before I could blink. One of them told me afterwards that she loved it so much because it tasted of salted caramel. Wow. How’d that happen? You can make it yourself here.

Much love,

More later.

SONIA

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