Discipline is cardinal in life. It is an imperative for genuine growth of any kind but especially important for personal development. Discipline is a training of the mind. Discipline is the process which enables us to direct our mind, instead of the mind directing us. It is important however, to differentiate discipline from rigidity. Rigidity is controlling the mind, fighting it and is usually imposed both on self and others. Rigidity is being harsh with yourself. Rigidity is inflexibility. Discipline is an act of kindness towards yourself, (thought it may hardly seem that way to start with!)
Why is discipline sooooo hard?
The monkey mind, true to its name is symptomatic of instability and lack of will power. A mind that does not know how to be still cannot get the clarity of focus required to instill discipline. The monkey mind derives it’s energy from being distracted, an antithesis for discipline.
What can we do to change this?
The difficulty with discipline is that we have to use the mind to train the mind. This is where it gets tricky. Yes, discipline is about will power… but all will originates at the level of thought which is the mind. The subtlety however is that thought gets it’s momentum from the emotions behind the thought. If the emotions are positive – good feeling, excited, loving, then discipline is easier. However, if the emotions behind wanting discipline is coming from a harshness, a violent will towards changing yourself or another, then either the process turns into rigidity or it does not last. So first and foremost, we need to be kind to ourselves and love ourselves on our journey.
Training of the mind can be done in different ways. Fasting, meditating, setting goals and objectives and seeing through them, are all ways of training your mind. What people don’t get is that discipline feels like “discipline” only up to the point where the mind is resistance and cannot fully embrace the benefit of a new practice or way of being.
Getting over the Mind’s Resistance using the 3-3-3 rule
Below is a list of objectives inclusive of the essential 3-3-3 rule which should prepare you well for any discipline challenge you want to overcome.
- Objective 1 – Pick one thing at a time – Most resolutions fail because we get excited and try to change everything at once. Don’t go on a diet, exercise 5 times a week, and start meditating all at the same time. Be kind to yourself and choose one objective and work on it, till it is firmly established. Over stretching and failing is much harder on you than being a slow coach.
- Objective 2 – There is a time requirement to overcome the mind’s resistance. The first pit stop is 3 weeks. No matter what, do not give up on your new discipline for 21 days. If the goal is to exercise 5 times a week, then you must do this every week for three weeks. At 3 weeks, you break the first point of resistance. Most people give up their resolutions within this period.
- Objective 3 – Once you have completed Objective 2, the likelihood of you giving up is dim. Now is the time to set your next pit stop which is 3 months. By 3 weeks you have more confidence and start trusting yourself enough and will in fact be looking forward to completing the 3 month goal. At 3 months, you break the second point of resistance. At this point the exercise becomes something joyful and gives you more confidence, better health and overall sense of well being. You actually look forward to it!
- Objective 4 – Over the next few months your motivation and energy to follow the practice will steadily improve. At this point, even if you miss out some days, you don’t have to worry because you can trust that you will come back to it as you feel the benefits. However, an extended off is still not recommended. We have built the foundation but are yet to get to the final destination. If you continue the practice for 3 years, you can be sure that you will never return to your old way of being. At this point, you have overcome the 3-3-3 barriers are your mind has been completely re-trained and you have now officially overcome all resistance at all levels of the mind.
- Objective 5 – Reward yourself for your work. With each objective win, you have won a little battle with your mind – Acknowledge and appreciate the determination and will power you showed. Treat yourself to something nice!
Lastly, if you do slip – be kind to yourself instead of hammering yourself and when possible, try again. We are all only human, and there is always a second chance!