A while ago I read this article that talks about motivation versus discipline. At that point in my life made a huge click with what I was experiencing. I was in a point where I felt I have lived almost my entire life in a dream or better said in an unconscious state not seeing the obvious truth in front of my eyes. I remember reading or just checking books about personal development and saying “That’s bullshit. It just doesn’t work in real life.” Indeed it does not work as long as you are just expecting something to be served for you instead of realizing that in order to change your life, you must first become aware of the things that are not bringing you any good, of the daily habits that are not productive and they are just wasting your time, of some destructive thoughts and emotions. Daily habits are the most powerful self-development tool that for me personally (and I dare to say for most of us) exists. Too bad few people are actually aware of. Too bad too many are searching for easy answers and choose to ignore the truth.
I feel most of us live almost daily in a lethargic state, wanting something, but not wanting to commit ourselves to a practice that brings us the results we envision.
For me personally, these last 7 months have brought me to a whole new level of what discipline means. I started to understand how much work I still have to do. And how powerful self-transforming discipline is. I was once called “too disciplined” and took that as a negative feedback (as it probably was). Too bad that person did not realize that you can never be “too disciplined”. You can always find things that you can work on. And as professional athletes or people that had managed to have incredible results in their life prove, “you are what you repeatedly do” Aristotel.
There is a difference between self-punishment and discipline, but because most of us live in a state of wasting our life and thinking that “dolce far niente” is the best you can do in life, we confuse these two concepts. Yoga Sutra talks about our “untrained mind that runs towards pleasure and away from pain.” This translates to the fact that our natural tendency or better said the tendency of our mind is to choose the easy way. But the easy way is not necessarily the most satisfying way of living. Even though we love to do things that we like, we need a certain structure in our life in order to feel balanced, fulfilled and bring us closer to our dreams. We also need the things that we don’t like. By working with that instead of running away from it, we start to see ourselves better and we plant the seeds of a stronger mind.
By working with your self-discipline, you are reshaping yourself. You become closer to the real you, that you that knows at the end of the day “I’ve done my best”. Not only do I dream about something, but I take action into creating my own dream.
These last 7 months have been sweet and painful at the same time. Practicing 6 times/week at 6 AM on most days I learned that we always have two types of pain: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. I choose not to live regretting that I haven’t done my best. I choose to practice even on those days when I don’t feel like. And let’s see what it happening.
They say yoga as a self-discipline tool changes your life. And now after a few years of practice and almost 8 months of daily Ashtanga, I must say – YES! It has a huge potential to change your life. It reshapes your thinking, your nervous system. It makes you more aware of your own bullshit, more compassionate towards yourself and the world, it opens old wounds but it also heals and in the end you are left with a better you. Whatever your level of practice, I am sure you can still find benefits whether they are purely physical, mental, emotional or of some other nature.
How can you get to all that?
Well…first of all this is not for everyone, but for those that want more from this life. You must have something deep inside yourself, a calling that tells you: “I want to live an authentic, honest life. I am fed up with the brainwashing I received all these years. With the pain and bullshit that I see at myself and around me. I want to become a better person for my own sake and for the sake of those around me. I don’t want to live only to waste the resources of this Earth.” I refuse to live a life that is not meaningful and authentic. I do!
Some people wake up early. Others later. And some maybe never.
If you are one of those that already woke up, don’t stay at the level of only getting frustrated and wishing for life to get better. Put the work. It is your job to build the person that you envision to become. Do the work! Stop complaining and start taking action!
What I notice sometimes at people that practice yoga is that whether we like it or not, are aware of it or not, we tend to make from the practice an escape from our daily frustrations, tiredness, worries. This is probably why we feel motivated to continue to practice after our first, second, third…class. And we keep coming back expecting to experience exactly the same bliss over and over again. And if we don’t, we get disappointed, frustrated, start blaming others for our own troubles. Until we reach a point when we start seeing our crap. It gets harder to get the same bliss that we used to have in the beginning. That’s usually a very good developing point. It means that we are reaching a whole new level in the practice. Unfortunately that’s also a point when most people give up the practice.
And we do so because our mind runs away from its own troubles and starts searching for a new distraction. Something that we feel it brings us more happiness. Oh, the famous happiness that we run so much after!
We also give up because we expect too much. We expect the class to be in a certain way. We expect the postures to feel in a certain way. We expect the teacher to cuddle our ego. We don’t like when we are confronted with who we really are when we are left alone. So the best we choose to do is to sweep under the rug and turn our gaze towards something else. We move on. We forget about yoga.
We forget how far we’ve got. And how beneficial the practice is for us.
This happens when yoga for you is a hobby that you put back on the shelf at your own convenience.
If you practice with a pure and honest intention without expecting anything from yourself, from your teacher, from others etc – then you can let the practice transform you. You just enjoy the good practice days and observe what you can learn from the bad days. We need good and bad in order to grow. Life cannot exist without the two of them. And we mostly learn when things are not working perfectly. This is advanced practice and not how bendy you are or what you can or cannot do on the mat.
If you are patient and remain open, magical things could happen.
If we would do that, we would have a healthier society, I believe.
But not everyone puts the work. Discipline is painful. To have the strength to continue even when things are not pleasing you, that is true magic. It means you are devoted to the practice and have a real willingness to put the work.
Anything that is sweet comes with suffering. Suffering is one of the higher truths. It exists. And this cannot be denied.
I personally choose the pain of discipline. And I encourage you, if you are reading this, to try and see what is happening. Before you give up, make sure you really did everything that you could.
I will finish with a quote that I absolutely love:
“There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.” Jim Rohn
Always do your best!
From my heart to yours,
© Unfold Your Mat