The final agreement in The Four Agreements, and our final week focusing on satya/truth is 'always do your best'.
In a perfection-seeking society this agreement can be one of the most liberating. This agreement requires the application of satya to discover and practice the truth every day. In the book Don Miguel Ruiz says; 'under any circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next.' I understand that if you're working on aircraft engines, or you're a doctor, nurse, surgeon etc, perfection is sometimes required! In this practice I'm referring to our every day lives – our yoga practice, routines, interactions with others, home-life, and 'perfection-not-required' work.
When applied in our yoga practice, always doing your best is the practice of the yama satya (truth) and the niyama svadhyaya (self-study).
We change day to day and our practice should reflect this. Some days we are well rested, energized or relaxed, other days we are tired, sick or frustrated. A 6am practice may look and feel very different to a 2pm, 6pm or 10pm practice. Our best on the mat is altered by our mental, emotional and physical state. Rather than stressing ourselves with an idea of perfection, it's important that we are kind to ourselves in our practice and commit to doing our best at that moment, knowing it's different day to day, and even hour to hour.
When it comes to activities off the mat, this agreement is equally as important. 'keep doing your best – no more and no less... If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself... But if you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgement, guilt and regrets.'
'If you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don't judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame and self-punishment.'
When you make the commitment to doing your best, you can move out of a perfectionistic, results orientated mindset and find contentment in whatever arises, knowing that you have done your best.
This week, both on and off the mat, continue your practice of satya by noticing if you are doing your best. Do not be afraid to be truthful to yourself about the times you are not doing your best and be aware of how not doing your best makes you feel. Please also remember that your 'best' is not a set bar or goal; it changes day to day depending on your energy, emotions and physical body. Practice this agreement alongside self study and know and accept that your best today may not be the same as it was last week or last year. This will lead you towards the second niyama; contentment.