August 15, 2018

Action Letters, Discipline

023 Why I HATE(d) Discipline

First off, my mother raised me to never indiscriminately use the word hate (thanks, mom) – so when I say I hated discipline, it’s real.

Here’s the story I had told myself:
My ability to be disciplined had gotten me through grade school, high school, into college, and it was still what made me strong at work – getting things done, no matter what. And, it made me miserable, tense, nervous and largely unhappy.

Then, this summer hit – and I found myself falling – from the crash of the Propublica tapes of children in cages screaming for their parents, to the tragic deaths of cherished members of our community here in Lewiston. I felt myself drawn to sadness and anger, enough though I knew those emotions could not sustain me for the long haul of love and work that is needed right now.

I was recounting my confusion, and disorientation to Brianna over Korean BBQ in late June when she looked at me and simply said, “Well, you need discipline”. As soon as she uttered that word, I felt my liver, stomach, and throat all contract at the same moment. Then, I took a deep breath and settled in to listen. She invited me to think about my need for the discipline to take care of my spirit – to do the things I know can help me weather these storms.

It made sense, but I didn’t like it. And I chewed on it for a few days like a delicious sandwich that has gotten just a bit dry and you find yourself gumming, in need of some milk…..

Then, Jyo gave me a cup of tumeric tea. I sat with her on a sunny day and recounted Brianna’s advice. She took a deep breath in response and said (at least the way I heard it): “Nicola, I’ve known you for 18 years, and what you probably need to remember here is to detach discipline from control.”

BAM. Yes! In the story I told myself about my life, I equated discipline with negation of my feelings, denial of my passions, and silencing of my inner voice. But that was actually my need for control. Discipline isn’t about shutting down your drives in order to be something or someone else – that’s pure control. I had been controlling myself into being miserable; putting process before people.

Discipline can be freedom. Discipline can be the practices that keep me to my truest and most honest self. In the last few weeks, I’ve been committing myself to a few disciplines:

  • Stopping to listen first, before insisting on process,
  • Doing art with no expectations – just putting pen on paper with no judgement and seeing where I go,
  • Waking up with kundalini yoga to move some energy and increase my lung capacity,
  • Laughing when I get a life curveball.

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