Discipline and Freedom Together
guest article by Supriya Ishaya
When I came to learn meditation, the teachers told me to take everything I’d learned so far, turn it upside down, and live from that.
* Don’t work so hard.
* Don’t focus so hard.
* Don’t repeat what didn’t work.
* Focus on what already works for you.
* Focus on what you’re already mastering.
* Don’t compare yourself to others.
And last but not least, the killer…
* Do what you want.
No More Pushing and Striving
After years of doing what one should, ought and must do, that was the strangest advice imaginable. It made me worry – how am I ever gonna get somewhere if I don’t push and strive and struggle?
Surely, enjoying my life can’t be part of becoming successful. But the world is generous and patient, and it kept showing me the same message over and over and over again. Do what you want.
The conflict came when I realized that what I want in the moment may not be what I want for myself in the long run. I may want chocolate for breakfast, luch and dinner, but I don’t want to gain weight.
I may want to skip exercising, but I don’t want my body to be out of shape. I may want to buy that lovely, shiny new Apple gadget, but I don’t wanna spend more than I earn.
The Inner Dictator Revealed
I’ve noticed that in those moments of internal conflict, the old dictator comes out of the shadows, eager to design a new scheme for me to get to where I want to be. Something like this: Meditate three hours every day. Do one hour of yoga every day. Save half of my salary. Read 50 pages every day.
With the best of intentions, the dictator inside wants to help me organise my life for it to be the greatest life I can have. And, when I’m not aware, I sign up for the program, thinking it is what I need to do in order to become that awesome, shiny version of myself.
But guess what? I only last a few days. A short week at the most. And then I’m out, ”failing” my plan and back much where I started, eating chocolate and not doing any yoga at all.
Introducing The Magic Minis
So, lately I’ve come up with this new idea. I call it the Magic Minis. It’s very simple. Instead of maximising everything, working hard or at the other end of the scale resign and do nothing, I now do what I call the necessary minimum.
It means, that instead of aiming for three hours of meditation every day, I am now committed to simply meditate every day. And instead of becoming the fittest version of myself by the end of the month, I am now doing the necessary minimum for my fitness, which means I do the Tibetan Rites and some sun salutes and go for walks.
I no longer push myself to sacrifice the joy in my life in order to become fit. And as my yoga sessions always were intended to be a method for letting go of stress and struggle on the inside, I no longer stress myself out about whether I’m advancing or not, or worry about finding the perfect length of a yoga session. It is wonderfully freeing, and more often than not, I find myself practising for longer and enjoying it more than I did when following a rigid schedule.
The Freedom To Enjoy Life
As I’ve integrated the philosophy of the Magic Minis in the other areas of my life, I now have a new flexibility in my days, allowing me to work out for longer whenever I feel like it. It’s funny recognising how much of my old way of dictatorship really kept me busy doing not-so-important things, and how precious it is to give myself the freedom to choose and explore and allow space for what arises.
So, yoga buddies, whenever you’re feeling that your simply not coping with the ”doing it all”, or you’re repeatedly finding yourself goofing off when really you set the time aside for a couple of stretches and push ups, simply take a moment and decide for yourself what the necessary minimum is for you.
Keep it simple and manageable. What do you really need to do? And when you define what that is, you’ll end up having the best of two worlds – doing what you want to do in the moment, and also taking care of what you want for yourself in the long run. Discipline and freedom need no longer be a matter of either/or. Now that’s what the Magic Minis are for!