When approaching your meditation practice, have you ever been stopped by the “D” word? Which D word, you ask? Dessert? Dreams? Destiny? Not quite.
The word that often stops people in their tracks when it comes to meditation is Discipline.
It’s well established that if you want to master anything in life, you need to practice. A golf swing, how to make the perfect cupcake, speaking a new language – it all takes consistency to become proficient in whatever it is you’d like to master.
Meditation is no different, it requires practice. If you want to master a state of inner calm, focus and awareness, you need to foster it daily. In our foundation course of Level 1, we describe learning to meditate as moving and muscle in the mind that hasn’t been used in a long time. It requires gentle but consistent movement to become strong and agile, no different than when we start to work out a physical muscle.
So what’s the issue? Why the “D” word?
Let’s look at the definition:
Meriam Webster Definition:
1a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
3: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
4: a field of study
5: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
Looking at the definitions above, you can see why trying to enforce a discipline around meditation might carry us into behaviours that would make our approach less about love and more about being hard on ourselves. (See last month’s blog post for more on this).
Definition #2 speaks to that directly. Many of us associate discipline with punishment. So if we approach our mediation practice with the scrutiny of old fashioned discipline, we will likely avoid going back there. Meditation must be a safe place for all parts our ourselves.
I am someone who was brought up in a very strict family. Discipline came easily to me when I started to meditate. My teacher suggested 20 minutes, 2 times a day, which I achieved without issue. While I was pleased that I met the requirements, when I returned to class, I wondered why I wasn’t having the powerful experiences that other people were describing. What was I missing?
I realized I had to learn how to choose my discipline. Rather than just following orders (as listed in the dictionary definitions above), I started to learn that part of the work of meditation was to build a relationship with it, with me. The whole point of meditating is about creating a sense of connection with the Self and a Higher Power. It’s not about external expectations or achievements. In truth, it’s about an internal intimacy. Something that when nurtured everyday, brought more meaning to my life.
This is something worth committing to on a daily basis! The choice to meditate becomes an act of self love, rather than an obligation.
So check yourself, does the word discipline turn you away from trying a meditation routine? Does the word practice soften the approach? Consider what you are really committing to, and more importantly – why. As you continue, the results will highlight the second point more and more, making it easier and more essential for you to return daily for your refill of you.