19 March 2009

Discipline and Devotion

Friday 20th March 2009

Commitment and discipline – tapas – are qualities I really need to work on, but how do we go about building up the weaker areas in our mental constitution?

Hatha yoga helps to strengthen and harmonise our physical constitution:
- Standing poses will build up our foundational strength to create a solid base for the more advanced poses- Abdominal and pelvic floor work will help strengthen the core- Twists will revitalise the spine and help rebalance our left and right sides.

But what about those areas of our personality and habits that we recognise as unhelpful or unproductive or obstacles to our growth?

Where can we find a prescription for specific exercises that will help to reverse or remove them or transform them into positive assets?

Meditation is invaluable for cultivating awareness and teaching us how to observe these undesirable patterns objectively, but I need a lot more than meditation to change or overcome them. New patterns of thinking and reacting have to be practiced over and over until they gain enough power to overtake as the new default settings.

So how can I increase my mediocre levels of discipline and devotion so they become refined qualities that empower my daily life?

Since I don't have a spiritual teacher to consult for guidance, I have to come up with my own answers. Years of reading yoga and Buddhist texts and all the intellectual understanding I've acquired seem impotent without the practical application of real exercises that will transform the mind.
It feels like I've come full circle in the spiritual journey and now I'm starting again.
How true it is that the more you know, the more you realise how much you don't know.
Surely it can't be this difficult...maybe I think too much...I should just focus on being fully present and allow the power of the universe to do the rest.
But what about discipline and devotion, and all my other shortcomings?
Maybe I could start with some simple exercises/pledges/vows and be a little more disciplined with those things I enjoy doing but don’t do often enough – like walking to work, or writing in my journal.

Exercise 1: Writing
From today until Easter, I vow to find a minimum of 15 minutes every day to write in my journal, even if I have nothing of importance to say (which is most of the time).I guess I’ll be writing about how I’m going with the rest of the exercises that I’ve set myself. The self examination will be publishing every entry on this blog - which may not be daily as I only have computer and internet access at work.

Exercise 2: Walking
From today until Easter I vow to walk to work at least twice a week.

Exercise 3: Yoga Practice
I vow to add an extra 6am morning yoga practice to my routine (probably Monday) which will bring it up to 4 mornings a week.Early morning practice is easy when others expect you to be there or actually DEPEND on you being there. Not so easy to get up and do it myself, alone in my bedroom.

Exercise 4: Meditation
From now until Easter I vow to sit and practice meditation four times a week for at least half an hour.

Exercise 5: Retreat
This is the big one and I’m not sure if it’s possible so I won’t pledge yet:EASTER: Four days off work – I’d like to undertake a three or four day full silent retreat at home, on my own, in my house. Complete withdrawal. I’m imagining a slightly modified Vipassana retreat with a strict schedule – about 8 hours of meditation and 3 hours of yoga each day.

I’m going to draft a daily retreat plan, plant it like a seed in my mind and water it daily with my growing discipline and devotion in the hope it will gather enough momentum over the next two weeks to manifest in my reality.
The image is a painting by Louise Feneley.


greenfrog said...

This resolve is, of course, wonderful news to those of us who like having a window into your life.


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