HOW TO ENJOY Discipline


What is discipline? What makes a yogi continuously show up to there mats day in and day out, even when they do not feel like it? What makes a writer pick up his pen or type on his keyboard day in and day out even when inspiration escapes him, or a fighter get up every morning, tie on his shoes, and get his road work in on the coldest of days? We inherently shy away from the things we do not want to do, and even the things we love when they start to become challenging. There is that special part of a human’s soul, however, that defies our natural ways and pushes past our perceived boundaries, reaching over the horizon towards our potential. We call that part of us discipline, but what is it really? Why is it so illusive to us at times? How can the ordinary man tap into its seemingly limitless power and become extraordinary?

            We often think of discipline as punishment. When we were children we associated being “disciplined” with being reprimanded or scorned for improper action, and so this belief stays with us our entire lives. We get a bad grade in school, and so we are restricted to our rooms for a week. We got into a fight, and so we must do laborious work around the house to make up for our poor deeds. We go to bed without supper for speaking out of turn, missing out on our desired meals. And so, as we grow older, we picture silent sitting in our rooms (which we now call meditation) laborious work (which we sometimes call exercise or house work) and the missing of desired meals (known also as healthy eating) as punishment. We associate discipline with discomfort, and so we spend our entire lives avoiding such things.

            The root of the word discipline however comes from the word disciple. A disciple is a dedicated student of a cause. He is one who accepts the teachings of another and assists in spreading the beliefs of such teachings. Disciples have a burning desire to not only learn, but to serve. Like the Disciples of Christ, they believe whole-heartedly that what they do is who they are, and could not picture life without their practices and their beliefs. In the 8 Limbed Path of the Yoga Sutras, one of the 5 Niyamas (or Observances) of is Tapas, or discipline. It is described however as burning zeal or desire to work hard and thus, discover oneself. This shift in perspective to hard work being associated with a higher being or understanding of ones own spirit, gives discipline it’s proper tone.

            What would your deeds feel like if you thought that they served a higher good? What if your workouts took on the form of a wholly communion with your God, or was dedicated to the wellbeing of your family? If you envisioned growing stronger with each and every step you take on that morning jog, how would that change your experience? What if the act of eating was a ritual of nourishment for not only your body, but your mind and soul as well? If your everyday work had a meditative quality, bringing you satisfaction with every sweep of a broom or lifting of a heavy object, would work be such a bad thing? If you put your entire being into every task, even the most remedial of ones, would you not be proud? Would it not be enough to be one hundred percent present for the job at hand, knowing that, right now, I am being all that I can be?

            The secret to discipline is perspective. I can choose to look at my life as a burden, or I can choose to look at it as a gift. I can view a deed as a punishment, or as challenge and thus an opportunity to grow. Life can be laborious or ceremonial. It can be pain, or it can be progress. The choice is always for us to make. I choose to be a disciple of life. I choose to spend every moment as a student, to learn, grow and constantly reach towards my horizon. I choose to spread the word that life is indeed what we choose to make of it.  The question is: What do you choose?