Discipline

Everyday Resolutions

The end of each December is a popular time

to turn over a new leaf.

Rather than making New Year’s Resolutions, I resolve to improve my weak links on a daily basis, as the need arises, and believe me the need arises. But New Year’s Day is as good a day as any to get started, however, it is getting started and never stopping that is what’s worth keeping in mind.

Over the years, I have adopted the motto: “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.” And I practice implementing these words into my everyday actions.

Be it how I communicate with my kids, how I make lifestyle changes to eliminating plastic from my life or how I am constantly making adjustments with my body alignment, which causes me to re-evaluate and reconfigure my daily body maintenance routine. (My week 3 Day 7 progression has evolved greatly in the last three years.)

We must practice accepting that what we are doing may not be right and that through exploration we can continue to make improvements. Unless of course, you desire to live your life like a store display mannequin, frozen in time, not having to think or to adapt or to change; believing that what you are doing is right and that the problems you face must be faults outside your control. Most of us don’t know how to eat properly for optimal health, most of us don’t know how our body works, most of us don’t really know that much about the world we live in and how to take care of it.

When we take pause and consider that in order to survive, all of us must thrive on being right, on having the correct beliefs. In other words, if we don’t believe that what we do is correct would we not be crazy for repeating them over and over again? For even the addict, though often knows what he does isn’t right can find an excuse to justify and comfort his addiction. And so he believes that he is right, even if only for a moment in time. (There are many levels of addiction, from coffee, chocolate, exercise, drugs, pharmaceuticals, supplements, social media etc.)

What makes us do what we do?

Try as you might, to control your life, change is inevitable. As our lives change it is wise to become familiar with change in order to adapt without resistance, which enables a symbiotic synergy with family, community and the environment on a larger scale.

I like change. Similar to a cat, I like to see how I will land, and I have learned that there is no one way to land, (although the ideal is to land on ones feet!) which makes it all that more intriguing. As a result, I find myself constantly fine tuning my behaviours and habits, which puts me in a prime position to say a thing or two about how to initiate change.

Here are some basic suggestions:

Q: I want to change ______, but how do I even get started?

A: Getting started can be as simple as having an idea and making the decision to follow through on that idea. However, within this simple step there are a few sub-steps to climb:

You need discipline to develop skill. But, you need to spend some time developing skill to become disciplined.  You must have the willingness and desire, also known as passion or wanting it badly enough to spend the time developing the skill to become disciplined in the first place. Achieving goals and changing habits is not linear but rather cyclical and overlapping.

How To Cultivate Self-Discipline

So even when a person is committed to making change and making personal improvement, you can see it is not seamless. It is not easy or foolproof. It still requires a lot of work.  To outsiders having self-discipline looks effortless, but for those who practice being consistent there is no compliment in off-hand remarks such as: “oh, well you have self-discipline”, as if it were built-in. As if those who achieve anything remarkable is born with a natural talent.

Anyone can develop self-discipline, but it doesn’t just manifest, it must be cultivated. Anyone can be fit and healthy, but it takes effort, discipline and education. It takes practice to become consistent with self-discipline. Period.

Q: I’ve made many resolutions in the past but have always fallen short. How do I change this behavior?

A: By being consistent. Self-discipline is borne from being consistent. Don’t give up on yourself. There is a lot of self-coaching that goes along with keeping your word to yourself. It’s also helpful to understand that goals change along the way. Just because you initiate change with a certain idea doesn’t mean you will stick to that forever. As you learn more about yourself you will be required to re-evaluate your strategy and fine-tune your approach as you go along. You are a work in progress. The goal itself isn’t the point. The point is to realize your human potential and perpetually raise your own bar.

The goal isn't the goal

Q: I tend to stick to a program when I have someone to answer to, like a personal trainer or when I go to a group class.

A: Learn to become accountable to yourself. Try not even telling anyone what changes you have planned. Learn the necessary skills from someone more skilled than yourself and employ self-discipline to become your own expert.

When I had a studio, many of my clients had more money than discipline. Instead of practicing what I taught them so that we could develop their skills to the next level they would use me as a crutch to put them through their paces. Be a willing student because money cannot buy improved health, fitness or skill.

Q: How do I create lasting change?

A: Setting a new habit requires repetition. Let’s say for example that you want to lose weight and get in better physical condition. I believe it is best achieved by making very small changes so as to not overwhelm oneself, which is the idea behind my 4-minute morning series.

Hopefully, as you go through the progressions, you will learn more about yourself (how your mind works) and your body and discover areas that need further exploration. Note: ALL areas need further exploration 🙂 My 4 minute morning series of progressions is the foundation for developing a consistent practice of self-discipline. It is simple but can you do it? Oftentimes it is the simple things that are the most challenging.

I believe that exercise is meant to establish a balanced musculoskeletal system. When we are in balance, our body works at an optimal level (which is different for everyone).

Important: If you exercise with poor body alignment you will only reinforce an unbalanced musculoskeletal system. Keep in mind that when you practice Yoga, run, walk, swim, cycle or lift heavy weights among many other activities, the point of what you are doing is to build an ideal structure that is trained to move in an optimal way when you engage in life: sitting at your desk, driving a car, sitting on a bus, walking, grocery shopping etc. It is the mundane repetitive activities associated with living that require this steady stream of awareness. 

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

―Archilochus 

~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~

 

Practice Makes

Best 7min. 1-mile time

No “thing” just happens.

Everything takes practice. The Dalai Lama talks about practicing compassion. The key word is practice. It takes practice to be compassionate just like it takes practice to be able to run a 7-minute mile or to be punctual. Nothing just happens. And the list goes on. Life is about practicing, not always about perfecting. Learn new things and practice them forever. I don’t believe in mastery. There is always room to grow and more details to find, we are all eternal students. And so this is why I word my new learning in this way.

This year I’ve learned:

  • How to practice a freestyle flip turn
  • How to practice being compassionate
  • How to practice taking photographs
  • How to practice living in the moment
  • How to practice uploading photographs to Flickr
  • How to practice editing photographs
  • How to practice eating healthy food all the time
  • How to practice making a lot of different food at the same time for my family’s needs and health
  • And so on…

Want to Try?

Choose ONE thing you would like to improve or better yet something you have always wanted to do but held yourself back because of an excuse (valid or not!). Choose just one thing – maybe the first thing that pops to mind. Now make a commitment to practicing it consistently. You don’t have to sign anything or make a public declaration; it’s your word, your honour.

The “thing” you choose might have to be practiced every hour on the hour. It might be more often, like every time you open your mouth (?!), or once per week.

Every “thing” takes practice.

I’ve been practicing to be compassionate to everything. Even mosquitoes. I have made a conscious effort to assist any insect that happens into my house, back to the great outdoors (where I think they’d rather be anyways).

 Here’s how I did it:

  • First, I enlisted my husband to catch the insect and gently put it outside.
  • When he wasn’t around I’d have to build up the courage to approach the insect on my own.
  • With practice and experience I became less fearful and more comfortable with the task.
  • I found myself spending many minutes in a dance of catch the insect, often letting more in house in the process.

Now, I know I have reached a state of compassion for all bugs. I look at them with fascination, curiosity and kindness. They have as much right to life as do I. As a result I have found one of my pleasures is to photograph insects. Who knew this could happen? All because I decided to practice compassion.

Lady Bug

Friendly Flyer Insect

Injured Dragonfly

Spider

It takes practice to wake up a few minutes earlier every morning to practice my bed stretches. It takes practice to time my meals so that I am well fueled and adequately digested in order to practice my body maintenance exercises.

There is nothing special about me which enables me to run a 7-minute mile, to do a freestyle flip turn or take the time to relocate an insect to the great outdoors. All I’ve done is learned how to apply this magical element that is within each and every one of us, but has taken on an out-of-this-world status.

PRACTICE.

And it’s not that practice makes perfect. I’m not after perfect. “Perfect is a moving target.” Practice Makes. That’s it.

As my husband says: “It’s all about Discipline. And sure it’s Simple, but its only Easy if you Practice.

When we practice and focus our energy on something meaningful it seems like amazing things happen. But those amazing things are actually just run of the mill kind of things. Ask anyone who looks as though they are doing AMAZING things. They’ll just nod and shrug it off; to them its just a natural part of living – simply, who they are and what they do.