Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, Worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
Yoga is a life-long endeavour of unwinding, uncovering and remembering. Our relationship to the practice of self-observation and embodiment will outlast every other intimate relationship, job, passion or social role. It is the manner with which we are reborn, it governs the way that we die.
Astounding are the commitment and discipline it takes to stay interested when it becomes boring, to continue when things get worse before they get better, to find order in states of chaos, to stay engaged amidst discomfort, and to stay steady when our entire inner and outer worlds are churning. One cannot sustain a practice that deepens and purifies without self-discipline. Healthy discipline itself is a mindful response to the inevitable resistances that arise when we meet dark and contracted pieces of ourselves.
Most of us were raised learning discipline as a method of behaviour control in order to please others or increase personal performance. So how do we learn healthy discipline and commitment in a practice in which the authority figure is our Highest Self, and performing present moment awareness is, well, a contradiction.
When my practice really started to take root, my relationship to discipline was quite unhealthy. It was guided by guilt, shame, perfectionism, the feeling of not being enough, the need to constantly fix what was broken, and the need to prove I was worthy of a Higher Love. It was only when I questioned my definition of discipline that I could create a healthy and fulfilling relationship to yoga and meditation.
Everything changed when my discipline changed from serving self-punishment to serving a higher more refined energy. I began to question my own motivation on the path. I began to see that discipline is one’s moment to moment response to the questions, “ What do I want?” and “ What do I serve?” Ultimately, I began responding to the question, “What am I a disciple to?” When I redefine what it is that I am devoted to, I find my actions become more refined, my commitments are simpler to keep, and my motivation comes from a deep love and reverence to serve my Heart and my Higher Intelligence.
As Madame de Salzmann states, “We must place demands upon ourselves. If we are not serving the Higher Energy we are only serving our sense pleasures. This higher energy is not only worthy of our respect, but it demands it.”
Some suggestions to build your self-discipline;
- Contemplate what it is that you are a disciple to (ex. your free heart, the highest awakening of all beings, truth, balance, integrity etc…)
- Make demands upon yourself, do not just serve the comfort of your body or the comfort of your habitual patterns. Your self trust and respect will only grow.
- Be consistent. Patterns are flexible and malleable. Your habits can be shaped to serve what you want.
- Become familiar, friendly even, with your excuses. Motivation will wane, learn how your saboteur speaks to you so you can address it rather than be governed by it.
- Whatsoever comes up, keep your daily practice. No matter what. Meet whatever arises with your best self. Do it again, every day, for the rest of your life.
- And when you feel lost or off path or confused, practice what TD Jakes calls a “walk-on-water kind of faith”.
Worlds upon worlds are available to us inside the free mind and heart. Yet, preparation is required. It is amazing how aligned the conditions have to be in order for one to occasionally journey into otherwise inaccessible places inside. For your student-ship and for your teacher-ship, work on building your healthy disciple-ship.