This week’s assignment is about Self-Discipline. Yes, the everyday you gotta do what you gotta do self-discipline, but also so much more. We are talking about the self-discipline that not only gets the job done, but also refines and redefines you along the way. This is the type of self-discipline that defines the quote "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen". Of course, this crowd does not get out of the kitchen. We stand in our fire knowing full well what the fire was made for...transformation.
For a Yogi to "show up on the mat" is so much more than a few hours away from home. It is to offer ourselves to something a little grueling at times so that we may become a higher version of ourselves. Our practice does not need to be grueling everyday, it can be rather fun and adventurous for sure, but either way it should be done with self-discipline in mind. Stepping on our mats is an investment in our future. We are investing in the only home we will ever really have, mind and body.
Last week we worked with contentment. I think much suffering can be diminished when we fully realize that being content does not mean getting our way but working with our circumstances contentedly. At this point in my life I am very clear that the struggles we face are here to help us—to help us grow as a person and to help us grow on the planet. These struggles are actually the richest part of living, though they are often, and rightfully so, cast as darkness. We are living in our own movie. There is always a villain and always a hero. Without the villain, the hero would not have anything to fight for.
Self-Discipline and fire are used by nature to renew everyday. When land gets burned it is a difficult time indeed. Homes are lost, land is chard and people get displaced, but, then comes the other end of it. New homes are built, new growth comes to the land and new placement creates a new way of life and a new way of doing things. The trick is to not view the loss as a bad thing but to view it for what it is, renewal.
When is the last time you fought a fire, a seemingly bad situation? Often these circumstances are uncontrollable, but we fight anyway, we brood, we complain and we try to make it stop. To face these moments of fire in wisdom, to face them with courage and trust, is a great deal indeed. It can be small moments, like waiting in line at the grocery store or big ones like watching your job circumstances change or dealing with a large health issue. You could have been made to wait in line to avoid an accident on the street, or to simply practice patience. Your health crisis could have stopped you in your tracks, got you into a yoga class, or made your realize what really matters in life. A major life incident can completely overturn the soil of your family, allowing for new growth, which is often not a bad thing.
Either way, try to walk through these fires with austerity and deep awareness of the big picture. This is not easy! In the past I would call all my friends and complain my circumstances away but now I know one trusted cathartic conversation will do while I deal with my fire in wisdom. Now that I understand what fire, self-discipline, or alchemy is about, I see it as a grand adventure rather than a hardship. I don't know about you but I hate airports, however they are definitely part of getting to a new land.
How do you deal with hardship? Do you have faith in the moment of contraction that there is light at the end of the tunnel, allowing you to relax a bit? Do you step on your mat everyday knowing though you might struggle, you are investing in your future? Do you see the struggles of personal relationships as one of the biggest opportunities in life? We know that life is not just butterflies and rainbows. When we are contracting we want to expand so badly, but self-discipline allows us to contract with courage and a kind of delight in knowing full well that we will be able to relax soon and that remaining the same is indeed far worse than change.