|Yoga at The Farm, Philippines|
Discipline just like any muscle in the body must be worked in order for it to be strengthened. We don’t get stronger muscles by sitting back on our butts and watching television, and we don’t gain more discipline and control over our lives by succumbing to every whim and desire that is presented in front of us. I read a book where this point was really driven home for me. It is a brilliant book called Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In this book there was a boy by the name of Dan Millman who was a superstar gymnast at the prestigious Stanford University. He was a straight A student, social butterfly, captain of the gymnastics team, and had everything in the world going for him – yet he woke up every night with nightmares and just couldn’t find peace and happiness. It was on one of these sleepless nights that he ended up at the gas station for a chocolate milk when he ran into who would become his spiritual advisor – a man by the name of Socrates. Socrates took him on a journey to find peace, love, and happiness. On this journey, he made Dan give up anything that was unhealthy. He couldn’t drink and the only thing he would have him eat for a while was fruit and herbal tea. One night, Dan met up with Socrates at a bar and Socrates was drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar. Dan questioned why he would do such a thing. Socrates told him that he is smoking a cigar and drinking a whiskey because he chooses to but he can stop any time. He is fully aware of the consequences of choosing a behavior but chooses to indulge in the moment with open eyes, full awareness, and the power of choice. This was a powerful point for me that I have tried to practice for many years now. Anything we don’t have discipline over, owns us. I choose to not let anything own me. I choose to not let anything have power over me. It is for that reason that anytime I feel like I need to do something, eat something, or have something, I exercise the power of choice and refuse that thing until I have control over that.
As I sit here in a beautiful wellness retreat in the middle of the Philippine rainforest sipping on a green juice made from fresh vegetables from the garden, I truly get to reflect on this point. There are a few things in my life that I have wanted to release my need for – the need for coffee, the need for meat, the need for constant technology, and the need to be constantly productive. What would be the perfect opportunity to tackle all of these things together? Attend a vegan wellness retreat, where there is limited technology, no television, nothing to do but relax, and where they have only herbal teas as substitutes for coffee. I would be lying if I said this was easy and I haven’t had any desire for meat, technology, coffee, or being productive, however, I am very grateful and empowered to be tackling some powerful influencers in my life.
Remember, whatever you don’t have discipline over, owns you. Whatever you don’t think you can do without, owns you. Whatever you have not been able to exercise the power of choice over, owns you. For some the vice is food. For others the vice is technology. For others the vice is people. I encourage you to take a major and honest inventory of your life and list all of the things that have control over you. Once you have that list, one by one start to resist the temptation to succumb to the power of these things over you. Once you resist long enough, you come to the realization that you do have a choice and you don’t “need” these things. You begin to do things because you truly want to and not because you can’t imagine your life without them. It is a practice I have been exercising for many years now, and the results are tremendous. It builds confidence, powerful, and freedom. We are never truly free until we create control and discipline around the things of which that we think we cannot. Your life is yours for the taking. Go out and take control.