Distraction, Discipline, and Freedom


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,


The Key to a Flexible Mind

?????????????????? For all the greatness of a human mind, all its ability to rationalize and discern, categorize and understand, it is a wonder that in all the years of our evolution as a species, rigid thought has not been superseded by more flexible ways of perceiving the world. Within the confines of our minds are the wondrous labyrinths of our perceptions of reality, sometimes laid out without question, other times set very deliberately. So very often, no matter the creation of ones formations of neural pathways, as rigid thinkers we become so unwavering in our beliefs about reality that in a myopic view we close ourselves to a potential truth, or perspective, that would enable far greater peace and happiness in our lives than the restrictive versions of principles we have chosen to live by.

The common misunderstanding that flexible is a term only useful to express the truth of the agility and length of ones muscles and physical body is a clear example of such a rigid perception. This term does delineate such truth, yet flexibility is a truth of the mind as much as it is muscular and connective tissues. Well into the 1960's existed another common misbelief that the brain could only change during infancy and childhood, despite this rigid way of thinking, great and searching minds in science have revealed neuroplasticity or cortical remapping of the brain, also referred to as brain plasticity, and have thus confirmed the human brains ability to change and adapt throughout the duration of ones entire life. This is why conversations about brainwashing thrill me. Unlike many conceptions of what it is to be brainwashed I personally see the potential of a positive venture aside from the very destructive nature most commonly alluded to when referenced. Brainwashing, when done with great mindfulness and care on ones own mind can effectively lead to more dexterous mental acrobatics, spacious understanding, mental flexibility, and ultimately fluidity of brain plasticity. Fundamentally, it does not matter what we call it, brainwashing or otherwise, attention and intention are all that is required to see the world from a more spacious, and open point of view.

Any time we catch ourselves becoming rigid in a thought, a belief, an opinion, a perception of the world, is the most advantageous time for us to reflect, postulate, and try to expand our perspective to see what we call in that moment truth, from another vantage point. Not to say that there will not be times when we are speaking a truth, however what is true for one is not always true for the many, and at the end of a long day of postulating the truth, one may only find that there is only one truth, and that truth is that everything is always changing.

The earth is not flat, nor is it the center of the solar system, yet there was a time when this was considered to be the truth. A matter of perspective can negate all truths, and though some may stand strong today, they may be negated as soon as tomorrow.

Intention is a stretching out of attention, a focusing of where the awareness for a period of time will be placed. If there is no intention, nor attention, to thought or action, the habit of falling into rigid thinking and acting will not be avoided. It is therefor in ones best interests to intend toward a mindfulness of thoughts, words, and actions to move away from rigidity and narrow myopic perspective. To know when we are only stating our opinion of life and reality as we perceive it in the moment we are perceiving it, to know when we could be or are wrong, is a far more comfortable and compassionate knock on an ego and a powerful mind than being proven blatantly wrong in private or public. I speak from experience.

Knowing this, attention to our words and thoughts leaves us far more room to compassionately and empathetically respond in our awareness of other peoples apparent faulty perspectives, opinions, beliefs, and principles, for we see our own so much more often and so much more clearly.

Perhaps it is time for us all to take a cue from Mark Twain, who encouraged taking ones mind out and dancing on it, to take some of the rigidity out of it.

In the end then the key to a flexible mind is a soft one.

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

photo copyright