"Forget your perfect offering -- there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
-- Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
It is officially Spring and we're coming up on the holidays of Easter and Passover -- a season of hope, renewal, and light. One thing I find very interesting about the symbolism of both of these holidays is that eggs factor heavily in each; it makes sense for a season when, here in the Northern Hemisphere, many birds nest and hatch their chicks. In a sense, springtime is a season in which we celebrate what happens when eggshells break open -- and, as such, we can see it as a reminder that it is our own cracked places that provide an opportunity for our flawlessness to shine through.
Our culture's approach to mental health is fundamentally broken. One out of every four Americans personally contend with mental health challenges, making this an issue that impacts every single family in the nation. Despite this prevalence, we collectively struggle with negative stereotypes that prevents people from being honest about their experiences -- stereotypes that are reinforced from the classroom all the way up to the presidential debate stage. However, as broken as our approach to brain health may be, we strongly maintain that the people behind these numbers -- the approximately 61.5 million Americans who experience mental health challenges each year -- are not broken. The Flawless Foundation exists because the approach to mental health in our culture needs to be fixed -- but more importantly, it exists because there is already perfection in everyone.
Seeing the perfection in myself and others is a spiritual practice for me, born from my own challenges with darkness in my life; yoga, meditation, radical acceptance, and forgiveness are the tools I use daily to find the light in myself and everyone around me.
Buddhist teacher Pema Chödron states that "only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." It is precisely because I am a survivor that I am also a passionate, informed advocate -- and, most importantly, why I am able to relate as a peer with others who are struggling to find the light. To paraphrase the great Mr. Cohen, it was because of the cracks inside me that I had the light available to see my own basic goodness and to help illuminate the basic goodness of others.
This is what it means to be flawless -- for our struggles to mean something, for our suffering to be a force that brings us together, for the jagged places inside of each of us to be the places where healing can emerge in our own lives and in our communities. We are all flawless, not because we are free of jaggedness within, but because each of those jagged places present perfect opportunities for us to hatch forth the personal and collective healing we all need. When it comes to helping our world, we do not need to hunt for the "perfect offering" as though it was an Easter egg -- just as we are, we are perfect. This springtime, may you see and live this truth.
Follow Janine Francolini on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Flawlessgrats