Monday, November 30, 2009

The Meaning of Discipline

If you’re like most folks, the word discipline may be a bit of a turnoff. Perhaps it reminds you of some bossy teacher who made you stay after school or childhood punishments that were intended to “set you straight.” Or maybe you associate discipline with soldiers marching single-file or with prisoners forced to obey their keepers. But the discipline I’m talking about here is quite different. When I say discipline, I mean the kind of self-discipline that prompts top athletes like Tiger Woods or Venus Williams to get up every morning and run several miles and then practice their moves or their shots over and over, long after they’ve gotten them right. It’s the kind of self-discipline that motivates great writers to sit at their computers each day, no matter how they feel, and pound out their copy.
The truth is, you already have self-discipline, though you may not be aware of it. You need self-discipline to get to your job on time or to orchestrate a schedule filled with business commitments, personal interests, and family responsibilities. You need self-discipline to pay your bills or keep up a garden or take care of your kids. You merely need to apply the same self-discipline to the practice of meditation.
Again, self-discipline is nothing more than the capacity to do something again and again. But I find it helpful to break self-discipline down a little further into three parts: commitment, consistency, and self-restraint.

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