As a child you likely experienced the word ‘discipline’. A word used by adults, parents and teachers, to ‘teach’ you the ‘correct’ way to behave. If you don’t do x, the consequence is y. You followed the command obediently, without question, without a sound. Why? For fear of the consequence. Fear became your natural reaction to authority and discipline. When you become older your actions and behaviors are now born out of fear of the consequence. You follow the demands and expectations of others fearing the consequence; scared there will be conflict, forgetting how to be confident in your own decisions. Self-discipline becomes a punishment…“if I eat that chocolate bar, I will get fat”. Then, self-discipline becomes non-existent. Somewhere you get a little lost in the laziness and self doubts of your noisy mind. This makes you feel, insecure, powerless and weak. The word discipline becomes a very difficult word to live with. Perhaps you recognize this belief.
“How can you redefine discipline and make it an act of self-love”
If you look up the root of the word discipline, it comes from the Latin word for ‘pupil’. Recently life granted me the privilege of becoming a pupil again, learning Classical Hatha Yoga with inspiring renowned yoga teachers Yogacharya Venkatesh and Acharya Hema in Mysore, India. They inspired me to dance with my definition of discipline and relearn it – discipline – the willingness to learn, to learn to improve YOU each day through practice and commitment to yourself.
Each morning my body and mind stepped onto the mat, sometimes the body wanted to run and the mind wanted to stay and other days the mind wanted to run and the body wanted to stay. Each morning they stayed together for better or worse committed to improving.
Each day I had the opportunity to observe my physical body. Where it was strong, where it was weak, where it was flexibly and where it was inflexible. Each day I had the opportunity to make it stronger and more flexible. Leaving class with a body that felt like it was a shell filled with empty space that was in turn filled up with a glowing light, full of life energy. Life energy I can save up and put towards whatever I choose.
Each morning I pushed my body to the maximum my mind allowed. “Don’t care for the pain. Don’t care for anything. Without pain there is no learning”, Acharya would instruct. It sounds like torture, far from an act of self- love, and quite honestly, at times my mind screamed at me, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, it’s awful, what on gods earth are you doing to me. I’m going to die”.
When it comes to the mind it is very thought-FULL, it has many voices tempting us away from our ultimate goal. When pain arrives it looks for any excuse to escape and be anywhere BUT in the present moment. Running, running, running….
In these painful moments I practiced over and over staying with myself, staying with the pain; through practice you learn to discipline your mind not to run from every pain on the mat; so in life I can practice not to run from painful thoughts and emotions. Staying present with them, acknowledging them, feeling them, breathing through them, until they become smaller and my ‘self’’ becomes more visible.
Through yoga I have learned to invite discipline lovingly back into my life to gain the self-control and confidence I need to put myself back on the path of living fully from my heart.