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Self-mastery, continued

Discipline: The "D" Word

I just finished an ironman distance triathlon. That means I swam 2.6 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran 26.2 miles. Before you faint or start sending accolades my way, you need to know that I had a week to do this. And, it was all indoors in an indoor pool, stationary bikes, and treadmills. However, getting my not-in-such-great-shape body in condition to do this required quite a bit of discipline on my part. After all, Iím not 25 any more.

I signed up at the local YMCA to do this for a couple of reasons. One, I was becoming undisciplined in my exercise program and needed a bit of a kick-start to get back into it. Two, there were no options between the couch potato and the ironman distances. I chose not to be a couch potato.

I had three weeks to get in shape, so I calculated how I would build up my endurance. I carefully computed how much I would need to accomplish each day during the event in order to meet the goal. I honestly didnít know if I could do it physically. I set an intention to do as much as I could without injuring myself.

Robin, the athletic director at the YMCA, was a great cheerleader. I also enlisted my husband and some friends to support me during my effort.The training was difficult. Several times I asked myself, "Do I really want this?" The answer was "yes." Even if I didnít complete it, I would still be better shape than if I hadnít made the attempt. My support team kept up the encouragement. I kept going.

The week of the event was arduous. Each day I biked 16 miles and ran four miles. I swam four times to meet the distance goal. On day five, each time I tried to run, my legs cramped and I had to walk. I made it three and a half miles. Thinking my electrolytes were depleted, I grabbed a sports drink on my way out and chugged about half of it before discovering it was mostly sugar water. I spent the rest of the day sick to my stomach. I figured was finished. A little disappointed, I thanked Spirit for bringing me this far. Ever the optimist, I laid out my workout clothes that night in preparation for continuing the next morning "just in case."

The next morning I felt great. Thanks to Spirit, I completed the distance easily over the following two days. Why am I telling you this little story? Because it illustrates many important facets of discipline.

When I mention discipline, I hear a sort of collective groan. And, sometimes that groan comes from me when I realize that I have strayed from the "discipline trail." But, if we are to master self, discipline must be a part of our spiritual life.

Many people think of discipline in one of two ways. The first way is to connect it with punishment. When we were growing up, we had a pretty good idea that being disciplined wasnít going to be much fun. Most corporations have a progressive discipline process whereby misbehaving employees are given progressively harsh penalties, the ultimate being dismissal.

The second view of discipline is associated with drudgery. Some people become so disciplined that they allow no time or place in their lives for anything that doesnít fit in with their carefully planned and regimented lives. Discipline taken too far becomes rigidity.

The root of discipline means "grasping intellectually and analyzing thoroughly." Disciple came to mean pupil and discipline meant "instruction given to a disciple." As the word evolved it referred to orderly conduct as a result of training. It didnít take on a negative connotation until the Puritans got hold of it.

Thinking back to what discipline really means, weíre all pupils of Spirit, learning by using SRT and listening to the guidance of Spirit. This takes regular application and practiceóor discipline.

A certain amount of discipline, or orderly conduct, is necessary if we want to move ourselves beyond just existence and into living abundantly and joyfully. I refer to it as Directed Discipline.

Directed Discipline has several aspects:

There needs to be a reason for the discipline. In my case, the underlying reason was to get in better physical condition.

Some sort of passion needs to be attached to the discipline. I happen to love triathlons. I love to watch the Kona Ironman on television and have visited the venue several times. I also love a challenge that takes me just beyond my comfort zone.

It really helps to have some support for when the going gets tough. In my illustration, I recruited Robin, Larry and some friends, including some who work out at the same time I do and would ask me about my steps forward

There will often be a "moment of crisis," when you donít want to continue. The initial burst of enthusiasm is replaced by the Wall of Reality. When my legs began to cramp and I literally couldnít run any more, I walked. But, I kept moving forward. When you exercise disciplineóeven when you become disinterested, discouraged or just donít feel like itóyou continue to move ahead.

You will make up excuses for giving up. These excuses will make a lot of sense to you at the time and seem very rational. While sometimes this is Spirit telling you to change direction, it can just as easily be your feelings or ego telling you stories about your self-worth, ability, path, or any number of other things. Sometimes you just need a little rest. Knowing when to rest is part of Directed Discipline.

To be continued

Meditation: Working with Spirit, I now apply the discipline to create miracles in my life."


Read Part Two

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