Since the finish of my cleanse a couple weeks ago, I've been thinking a lot about discipline. The cleanse is a deep commitment to healing the body by restricting food to only fruits and veggies, making fresh veggie and fruit juices and taking special herb products 2 - 4 times per day.
It is a great journey into self-discipline. I've done many cleanses in my life and I've noticed that because of my strong commitment to the cleanse, I don't find the discipline difficult. I discipline myself because I have a desired outcome and because I enjoy honoring my body through cleansing. And truthfully, after the first few days of getting into the groove and exercising self-restraint, it no longer feels like discipline. The cravings subside, and it's just something I'm doing for myself because I want to. There's no more inner struggle about "should I or shouldn't I eat that stuff?" or "why am I doing this to myself?"
Immediately after the cleanse, I notice how hard it is to stay disciplined in this intense way. Not that I want to or think I should keep up the diet, but it's fascinating to watch my process around what I "should" or "shouldn't" eat. I get so burnt out on all the salads, the extra efforts of juicing, the cutting and cleaning up that I'm happy to do something different. So it feels good and natural at that point to let go of the disciplines and allow for some freedom to eat other healthy foods; to stay committed to my health while relaxing to find more balance.
I've been tuning in to other areas in my life where I'm exercising self-discipline and I realize that I generally do it where I have a certain desired outcome, otherwise, why not just relax or blow it off? My yoga and meditation practices are a regular place where I discipline myself. I ask myself to take this time aside for something special because I know the rewards are great. I feel better and more connected to myself when I practice. And since I've been doing it for so many years, this, too, doesn't feel like discipline most of the time; it's just something that I build into my day and that I want to do for myself.
But there are days when I feel rebellious. I resist the discipline of sitting down to meditate because I have other things I want to do or that I think I "should" do. On these days, if I manage to resist the temptations and meditate, it is because I used great discipline to get there.
I love the idea that self-discipline is sort of like making a promise to myself instead of "shoulding" on myself. When it feels like a "should," I find myself rebelling. But when I remember the positive outcome, then I'm much more likely to follow through.
Perhaps in a lot of cases, the discipline needs to be more fierce in the beginning of starting something new, and as we progress with the new activity or habit and appreciate the positive outcomes, then it no longer feels like discipline and we can find our balance between the effort and the release.
It was fun bringing these reflections to my classes the last 2 weeks. People seemed to relate. I think we all struggle with discipline in some way, whether it's around diet, exercise, studying, working, or getting to yoga class. We dance with when to deepen discipline and when to relax it; hopefully finding that ideal groove we want to sustain.
May you find your sweet groove while navigating the great path of discipline and freedom.
Until next time,