I have a love hate relationship with discipline. Like a sheep, I fell happily into the idea of it when I first begin studying yoga. Yes! I will get up at the crack of darkness to chant and sit for meditation. Yes, I will rearrange galaxies to manage my nutrition and cover my kids so I can attend practices at the unbelievably inconvenient hours of 6 am or 4:30 PM. I will bust it out, and I will feel so good. And I did feel good. But every time I felt good, I would slip a little bit, as if to reward myself for all that asceticism. One step forward, two glasses of wine back. Three weekly practices, then only one. Reading yoga books before bed and going to sleep all peaceful, or talking about friends with other friends on the phone before bed and feeling like a brilliant victim.
You might think that yoga would disapprove of my inconsistent commitment, but yoga does not care. Yoga truly does not give a shit. Yoga is just there. And as time has gone by, I have gotten into a Velveteen Rabbit relationship with yoga largely because of its indifference. And I have slowly come to know the true meaning of discipline. It’s not only that I value a good night’s sleep more than having one more drink, though I do feel that way now. It’s not only that I don’t freeze my Dulce De Leche topping so that I won’t be tempted to eat it by the spoonful late at night (FYI, that stuff does not freeze). It’s that my years and years of consistent inconsistence have built into a true practice and now I really do understand, in my body, what discipline gives as a reward.
Discipline gives the gift of peace. Discipline in yoga is the feeling you have when you are at the beginning of a planned series of 3 practices because you know you fell off your wagon of truth and you’ve been eating wrong and drinking mojitos..discipline is the feeling of knowing, when you put your forehead on your mat, that the mat is going to bring you back. That even if today’s practice is hell, which it will be, that you will be coming back on Wednesday and on Friday and you will be okay. Because you always are. Discipline is that knowing.
And discipline in yoga has taught me discipline in so many other places in my life. When I first started in yoga I was ALL or nothing. I was either at the meditation center twice a week and listening to lullaby chants to go to sleep or I was not there at all, because I was rewarding my busy self with hedonism. Nowadays I am there when I need to be there, and when I am not there the thread of knowing that my practices are always right THERE is a comforting, steady reminder of the gift of discipline.