the simple minded suburbanite


#3 Discipline 5 Trancendent Principles
February 17, 2012, 1:52 pm
Filed under: time management, voluntary simplicity | Tags:

“What we discipline is any form of  potential escape from reality…  It’s not the same as being told not to enjou anything pleasurable or to control ourselves at any cost.  Instead, discipline provides the encouragement that allows us to let go.  It’s a sort of undoing process that supports us in going against the grain of our painful habitual patterns.”  Pema Chodron When Things Fall Apart 5 Transcendent Principles

When my kids were toddlers they demanded my every second, and fraction of one.  I often had the three of them competing for the fraction of that second, as well as competing with the dog, a phone, a boiling pot of noodles, and me remembering to brush my teeth.  I have joyful memories of those days paired with tightness in my chest (yes, possible and natural.)  Well, my kids quickly began to grow.  They began to entertain themselves with games of tag in the back yard, began to pick out their own clothes, and (the moment of relief!) pour their own cereal!  But my brain was still misfiring, looking for distractions, unable to formulate complete, seamless thoughts.  My kids were growing, my brain continued to shrivel.

I recall one of my first, small steps in brain recovery.  The kids played out back.  Dinner was in the crock pot.  The phone, silent.  I decided to sit down and read a chapter of my book…in the middle of the day!  I sat down, opened to my page and got back up.  Flipped the laundry.  Sat down, read a sentence or two and a half sentences and got back up. I had to pee.  Sat down again, got up to check on the kids.  “Anybody want an ice cream bar?”  I itched my nose, I turned on the light, I checked the mail, my email, the laundry.  I did not have the discipline to calm my mind, I had been so conditioned to function on blips.

May I say, this process of undoing, of letting go has taken me years and I’m not sure I’m even done yet.  I leave the house to work at least a day a week so that I don’t have to contend with the buzz of the dryer’s completed cycle.  I allow thoughts of “lazy”, “unimportant”, “not urgent”, to come into my head but then I gently usher them out.  It took discipline to complete a single paragraph without stopping to look up or shift.  It took discipline to not interrupt the flow of my satisfying work day to lunch with the ladies.  It took discipline to go from writing for one hour a day to working 5-7 days a week, ignoring much of the superfluous to attend to my dreams and desire to do something with my life.  It still takes discipline but, discipline that is gently, that sets a structure but is forgiving within that structure.  Discipline to sit still.  Discipline to be and forgive and be present.

I’m off for a walk now, disciplining myself to exercise 3-5 times a week in whatever way that strikes me (yoga one day, a walk, a bike ride with the kids).  Discipline with flexibility.  Dinner is in the crock pot. Wait, did I turn on the crock pot?

Please share storied of compassionate self discipline.

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