is something I hear so regularly it got me thinking. It’s said as if it is something I inherited from parental dna and not actually what it is, something I learned, nurtured, and refined. I want to answer, “You could” but it’s always clapped back with “I’ve tried” “I just don’t have it”. That defeatist attitude finally drove me to write this blog and lay out once and for all how you too can grow your discipline to equal or even beyond mine.
10 Simple Steps to Becoming More Disciplined Today:
Break down each task/goal. Avoid overwhelmment by making a list of what you want to achieve and breaking down each task/goal into its smallest components. Commit to which tasks you can do in a given time period and put each one in your calendar treating them as any other important appointment. Consider that things will almost always take longer than planned and build in lots of room for set backs so when those obstacles happen they are already accounted for.
Shut down distractions. Multi tasking is so 2010. 2019 is all about putting full focus into one thing at a time and refusing to allow any distractions in. Before you sit down to work on any item on your to do list, make sure you are ready to be fully present. Shut off ringers and close open tabs especially but not only those related to social media. Refuse to be reactionary. You do not have to respond to calls/texts/emails every minute. They will be there when you emerge from your task.
Set a timer. One of the best ways to train discipline is to set a time frame for working on one task or project and commit to staying on task until that time is up. This may feel really uncomfortable and challenging at first but this will pass as you train yourself to stay with tasks through the urges to run. You will build a unique and powerful inner strength and discover how much you can accomplish when you refuse to dilute your focus.
Take the questioning out of it. Decide in advance that once you create your plan of action, it can not be negotiated after. Know that there will be voices in your head suggesting otherwise and be prepared to actively ignore them. This will become easier with time as those voices tend to back down when they are not attended to. When you are very advanced at discipline you may be able to adjust your schedule/make acceptions after creating it, but in the beginning when you are building self discipline you should not allow for any alterations or rationalizations for why something can not be done.
Do not wait for inspiration or to feel like it. It’s a dangerous myth that one has to be inspired or moved to get work done. Have a day you’re not feeling into it? Do the work anyway. That’s the pro level. Everyone thinks inspiration leads to action but few realise the greater truth that action leads to inspiration. That’s your edge.
Re-write your why every day. In the My Bliss Book planner there is a place to do this on every page. Remembering your big picture and why you started and keeping that vision clear and present each day is going to make taking all the actions you need to take to get there so much easier.
Think long term. Train your mind to visualize the long term payoffs of discipline. See clearly where you will be when it all comes together. Draw it. Write about it. Put it up on your wall if that helps. Make a commitment to choose this reward over and over again against immediate pleasures and gratification. Prepare for temptation by practicing seeing yourself resist temptations that have diverted you in the past. Rehearse in your mind exactly how you will respond moving forward.
Remember that you are an adult. The train has left the station and the time to get it right is running out. Take responsibility for your actions, lack of action, mistakes, and setbacks. Refuse to blame others when you fall behind. Grab hold of your life the future you desire.
Award good behavior. Celebrate all successes, even the small ones. Award yourself with anything you want except by giving yourself slack when it comes to discipline or by allowing bad habits. Buy yourself a treat. Congratulate yourself verbally, in a journal, to friends and family. Bask in the richly rewarding feeling of getting things done. You will call upon and remember that feeling in the future when you have doubts and it will fuel your continued growth in self discipline
Get support. Don’t try to do it alone. Find a friend or an accountability buddy that will help you to stay on track by checking in on you each week. Choose that tough love friend who doesn’t let you get away with lying to or shorting yourself. Just telling another person your goals will provide you with that extra pressure to come through.
Do you relate to any of these tips? Tell me which ones you’ll be using in the comments below and share you have other self-discipline techniques that have helped you.
Most people think of Parvati or Radha when they think of love Gods, not Lord Ganesha. Me? I think of the elephant headed boy come to dissolve all obstacles. I think of Him because I know the truth, that love isn’t lost and in need of finding. Love is everywhere and in everything, seemingly lacking often due to our own interference.
Rumi said it best.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Ganesha is great for this! If you are troubling in love I encourage you to make this one change and see what happens. Instead of asking for God or Goddess to send your match or find your mate, ask Ganesha to help you relax your worries, remove your limitations and quiet your objections so that you can allow the love that is there in front of you to be seen, felt, and accepted within.
Limiting beliefs and deep seeded feelings of unworthiness are common in most of us and keep us from the love we deserve. Use these techniques to overcome those hinderances and get all the love you deserve.
1. Journal all the characteristics you desire in a partner. Circle the three you can’t live without.
2. Sit in meditation and a great sun above you come to fill you with golden rays of “Havingness”. Bask in those rays. Offer up your wish in giant balloon that goes to the heavens.
3. Dissolve any anxieties or objections that come up by giving them over to the elephant boy.
As always, Let Me Know How It Goes in your comments here and SHARE!
You may think it’s hard to practice in the beginning when the body is tight, but it’s easy compared to what happens when the growth spurt has past and it seems like nothing is happening. That is why a strategy for long-termed practice is so important. I spoke on this topic for Land Yoga’s Five Year Anniversary Chai Talk. These are the notes from that talk.
Patangali says in yoga sutra 1.14 “sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih” that in order for practice to be effective it should be long termed, without interruption, and devotional.
Long-Termed means for the course of the life-time (and future life-times) until Enlightenment is attained. Any practitioner will tell you it’s the accumulation of years of practice that brings the immense benefits. It’s widely recognized that the base of the practice is the first ten years and I’ve even heard Sharath say that’s how long a student should wait before teaching.
Uninterrupted means of course without starting and stopping. The point of the practice is the practice which means we put our whole energy in and let go of expecting any specific results. Understanding and accepting this concept of non-attachment helps with not taking a “break” from practice when we aren’t getting certain expected results. We invest in the process.
Most people take their first break from practice due to illness. One shouldn’t practice the physical aspects of Ashtanga yoga if one has fever. (Other issues like colds and injuries can be practiced around.) It’s important to know that your physical practice may need to be modified or shortened during certain periods because of life circumstance. This shouldn’t stop you from getting on the mat.
The danger around taking a break even for fever is that the pause from practice causes that little window of dullness to open, sending us down a dangerous cycle. It’s amazing how even a short break in routine can knock years of habit off course! Patanjai explains it well by listing the predictable obstacles that get in the way of practice:
Illness – Dullness – Doubt
Negligence – Laziness – Cravings
Misperceptions – Loss of Resolve – Instability
You can see how these lead one to the next until the practitioner finds herself moving backward.
The antidote to the obstacles is one pointed focus. Knowing about them in advance will also help the practitioner be prepared and be able to identify when then they are activated sooner. This will help her to avoid a long slump. Patanjali suggests cultivating faith, putting great energy toward your goal, using your memory, having deep concentration, and developing crystal clear discrimination to help you to avoid obstacles. (y.s. 1:20) These characteristics will make it easy for you to know when you are not in practice because your mind has cunningly taken you off track verses because you are truly ill.
Starting practice over and over is painful and much harder than cultivating an ongoing habit. To help avoid interruptions of practice, understand early on what kind of practitioner you are: mild, medium, or intense, and practice accordingly in respect to your energy expenditure and time. It’s much better to commit to a medium level, short daily practice each day that you can promise to maintain for a lifetime than to go full force and burn out in two weeks. Think long term and know yourself! That is what the practice will teach you anyway.
Devotional means offering up your practice in service to the Highest Good, and knowing that it isn’t about you at all. You’ve been called to the practice and so you must do it. Once touched, a practitioner will always hear the call to come back. It’s much easier to know and remember that and never stop than to stop and start again. If it isn’t feeling great or looking great, that doesn’t matter because the goal is to be unattached to the results of the practice and focus only on the energy we bring to it. Each day is a new day and I look at my arms in wonder as they lift up over my head and give thanks. Finding and remembering that feeling of gratitude that came easily early on will help you too when challenges arise later.
Just like we shower, sleep, and brush our teeth each day, so do we practice, because it is what we do. The practice is like an internal shower, releasing unprocessed emotions and setting us free to experience the now without forgone conclusions. As we move through our practice year after year the distractions will change and different challenges will arise, but as long as we know we are in till the end, we will never take those hurdles too seriously. Just knowing you are committed makes each challenge not even a blip along the way to enlightenment.
We’ve come to the last of the eight-limbs, Samadhi. Samadhi is a concentration so deep, that only the essence of the object being observed radiates. It’s as if the mind itself is no longer. In this sense, it is a death. The levels of Samadhi deepen until one merges with infinity, never again to return to a fractured state. At each stage something must die so that this joining can take place.
Figuratively and literally we will all experience death in our lifetimes. Each time we let go of a personality trait, opinion, or limiting idea it is as if a part of us dies. As we shed what we are not, we come closer to the infinite, non divisive being that we are. For instance, to define myself as smart, I must have an idea that somewhere out there exists someone who is dumb. I need also a concept of intelligence which depending how I characterize it, may dismiss particular forms of knowledge. There will come a time when I discover my lifelong “certainties” to be incomplete and realize they have caused me to brush off people and experiences. Some get a glimpse of this and retreat deeper into their previous paradigm, looking for any evidence not to change. As a yogi I must move fearlessly forward. When I open my eyes to a new concept of wisdom the whole world will look different. I will also come to realize there are all these other assumptions I have made that are also limiting or incomplete. I will have to reexamine my whole life and let die what is not true.
Fear, is a reaction from our system that some sense of who we are is in danger of death. Our ego wants to assert its separateness so it screams to be let loose. The beautiful thing is that each time we deny its hold on us and move through fear toward truth, we teach ourselves that we will be okay. We don’t actually die. We can still find our way.
The little deaths we experience in our life are preparation for the ultimate letting go and show us that the more we surrender, open and accept, the easier and more blissful we will be.