discipline

Without Practice Nothing Can Be Achieved

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Perhaps you are already thinking of New Years resolutions? Maybe, like me, you are resolving to do new things and experience life differently all the time? Hopefully all of these desired courses of action require a small, if not large, level of difficulty and will present you with a true opportunity to achieve something different from what you now know. If this is the case than it is quite likely that at first you will meet with adversity and challenge, you will miss the mark if not fail completely. The question will then become how important is it to you? If it has a modicum of importance than you will return to try it again and again. Over time, that which was challenging will become less difficult, and eventually that which once eluded you, will become your nature. This is the nature of practice, and it’s rewards. The process of revelation, from ignorance into knowing is effectively a pealing away of layers and veils of sensitivity that limit the space of perspective until individual consciousness is united with all encompassing consciousness. To know yoga and unconditional love requires passing along this journey. There is a process of assimilation that cannot take place solely through the passing on of information, solely through the teachings and the words. Rather, we must experience the expansive and personal unraveling of belief and attachment in order to arrive at the door of truth and understanding. Experience is the path that guides us to such a threshold.

Satisfaction comes from rising to the call of the arduous and difficult, and learning how to fail well. Failing well means getting back up, getting back on the mat, allowing yourself to be vulnerable after heartbreak. This is where the value of true achievement dwells and this is the reward referred to in the famous quote “Practice and all is coming”, attributed to Pattabhi Jois. This is the teaching of Patanjali’s first yoga sutra, Atha Yoganusasanam, traditionally translated to “Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.” Basically, without experience, no true knowledge can be gleaned. “Now is the time to get to the mat.”

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve

Loosing the Battle, Winning the War

Over the years of my life my morning routine has varied greatly. For years it was necessary for me to have a coffee and a smoke before doing anything else in order to meet the day, and people in it, with an inner sense of calm and outer display of good nature. Though there are many reasons to say this is a poor way to start the day, it worked for me for a very long time. Yet, like all other things, I have changed and so has my morning routine. Now rather than coffee and a smoke, I prefer meditation and writing. What hasn’t changed though is the fact that if I don’t, for whatever reason, get to my morning routine before other things call on my attention, I lean toward intense irritation and discontent. Before, when nicotine was a part of the equation it was easy to blame my poor state of mind on a chemical imbalance, now, not so much. Now, the only person to blame is me, and the only one responsible for making it better is also me. Knowing that I am easily irritated when I don’t attend to my morning rituals I do my best to give myself ample time to do so even if it means getting up at “ungodly hours” as my husband says. It for me is an empowering practice of discipline and my way of “winning my daily private victory.” But life does not always abide so politely to my plans and my best efforts. This is why I have my practices and return to them with discipline, because there will always come a day, if not many, when I am faced with the ugliness of my own inner discontent, and the true battle of righting my way toward inner peace and ease will really begin.

Today was the kind of day I do my best to not have. The morning began with demands that required my attention and were more important than “winning my daily victory.” Having integrity to the meeting of and attending to my responsibilities is a cornerstone in my personal philosophy, and therefore off to the gamut of other tasks I went. As the morning unrolled, I snapped at my husband, spilled my coffee, and observed that most of my thoughts were criticisms and complaints. In the observation of myself I had a significant moment not only of self awareness, but also of payoff for all the work I have done to be aware of myself, in such a way and I realized that the only one who had control of my irritation was me. The circumstances of my irritation were far out of my control, but the way I choose to respond to them was within reach. Finding my way to a more spacious state of perception and feeling was not instantaneous, however, as I click the keys on this keyboard I acknowledge that I am much less irritated, and far more pleasant to be around as a result.

Life is full of choices, we often perceive the choices that will make us happy as the big ones, like who to marry, what job to take or car to buy, or where to live, when in fact it’s really the little choices we make that have the biggest effects on our lives. Choosing to “win our private daily victories” such as meditation practice, yoga practice, spiritual study, writing and creative ventures, meeting responsibility with integrity, living in unconditional love, these choices may seem minor in the eye of the simple bystander, however over time, these little victories become the artillery that enables us to win the battle of our happy lives and live in more inner satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace more of the time.

Today I lost the little battle of my little victory, but I won the war against inner discontent, and it only took about an hour. As a result, I offer to you that this year as you set your resolutions, may you set them with little victories in mind. What can you attain today that may benefit you down the road when your plans fall apart and life arrives? Through the discipline of your return you will find freedom when you least expect it.

Blessings and best wishes in the New Year,

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

Distraction, Discipline, and Freedom

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This afternoon I find myself seeking distraction to avoid doing the work, putting thoughts into words, making sense of an oftentimes senseless existence in this weekly exercise of writing. This isn't a new experience, I have been avoiding since I was a child, especially on days like today, clouds hanging low and grey. I know I am not alone this afternoon in my desire to get back into bed with a good book and cup of hot tea. My distracting behaviors lead me to question what I am really getting from a half an hour dive into a Facebook feed that shares very little important information. I question if the past time of trolling my news feed will ever really serve me. More often than not the answer I return to is no, yet I continue, it's a form of addiction. As I near ever closer to a year of non-smoking in reflection of a very long lived habit, I honor that all my addictions are just forms of distraction, just places to put my attention allowing me to avoid the work that has to be done. As a young girl I was especially good at this, back then the habit was called day dreaming, of which I was accused by many teachers all throughout grade school. By the time I got to high school there was a constant greek chorus being recited by my father, "get some discipline." Discipline became a word of dread, as did the action it referred to, and in adolescent fashion I refused, following an inner dialogue that demanded discipline would take the freedom and pleasure from my life.

Lately I recognize that despite my egos best efforts to exonerate me from any form of discipline, somehow a seed of steadfast focus took hold and without distraction I have arrived at a stance of understanding the value and the freedom discipline gives as its reward. Many things take part in the grand tale of each of our lives unfolding and I know a big part of this volume of my life has to do with my ever present desire to experience the world standing on my hands. Yoga, arriving, returning, deepening my practice, returning again no matter how I felt, or feel, and my desire to invert in every variation, has amazingly, and respectfully brought not only discipline into my life, but layers and layers of freedom. Discipline of skill in action using principles of alignment in my asana practice has enabled me the opportunity to experience the fulfilling feeling of physical freedom as I refine the architecture of my inverted body. Discipline in my physical body was only the seed from which more discipline has arisen and in turn has created more and more freedom in all aspects of my life.  Such as the great discipline it takes for me to mindfully meet life with an open heart and a willingness to love from that heart without condition, rather than react with cruelty and judgement to an oftentimes cruel, judgmental, and senseless world. Discipline is also the tool that I wielded when I stopped distracting myself by lighting the cigarettes ten or more times a day almost a year ago, and closed the Facebook feed this afternoon. After acknowledging all of this I have to note that discipline is nothing without focus, without intention. Without a goal there is no direction to work toward, any goal is good enough, even and especially when that goal seems absurd or minimal like standing on ones hands, for the goal is the seed from which great freedom sprouts.

Whatever it is we desire, is to some degree or another attainable with focus and discipline.  Of course there are varying degrees of limitations, however the most limiting factor will inevitably always be our own limiting beliefs of ourselves. These limiting beliefs in essence are just a form of distraction, which we place in our paths toward satisfaction and success to avoid the hard work of hurdling the challenges that are naturally partnered with steadfast discipline.

Discipline essentially is an assertion of ones will power, which can be used to subvert destructive addictions like smoking, and enhance personal behaviors that are self serving like standing on ones hands. I personally have chosen to write these weekly blogs as an exercise in discipline. I would like to think that they speak to the audience who reads them, that my words touch a place of truth and heartfelt meaning that carries beyond my exercise, however in the end the exercise is enough. In leaping over the hurdle of my avoidance today, and every sunday I feel gratified, even if the feeling is only a small portion of personal satisfaction. By stepping into the work, into the practice of discipline, and turning away from the avoidance, in the moment of completion of the work I am free from the guilt that dances with my distracted mind as I troll the Facebook feed on my phone.

In the end, I find that by satisfying the efforts of my discipline the distraction has its place of honor too, and in that, snuggled nicely into my bed, I invite good entertainment to speak to my heart words of truth, on purpose or deciphered by my own beautiful mind.

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve