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Discipline, Daily

Watch the man beating a rug.
He is not mad at it.
He wants to loosen the layers of dirt.

Ego accumulations are not loosened with one swat.
Continual work is necessary, disciplines.
— Rumi

We’re all on our journey of becoming. We’re all working to grow in our chosen work, to experience life more richly, to continually refine and reinvent ourselves, to reach our potential. But we can’t grow in a box. The journey requires some space and momentum, which necessitates cleaning out some old beliefs and habits acquired along the way. Sometimes cleaning up the old is easy because it was never really a part of our core, but sometimes the old is so embedded in who we are that we’ve got to beat it out.

I have some old beliefs and habits I’m not particularly willing to carry around with me anymore. I don’t give them any light to grow, but ugly beliefs and bad habits don’t need a lot of light to fester. The process of clearing them out requires a lifetime of consistent effort.

Discipline is derived from the Latin disciplina, which means “to learn”. But any dance with the dictionary will indicate that discipline also has another meaning: “to chastise or scold.” Discipline thus has both a positive and negative connotation. No wonder people shrink away from discipline! So what are we to make of it?

We’re all works in progress. Old habits are like old friends that remind us of what we once were. Sometimes that’s a delight. But often we shake our head at who we used to be. To live in the present is to acknowledge that former self and see who we are today. Every day is a reset, a chance to move forward or to slide back. Every day we get to decide what to be and go be it.

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