On Discipline, and Doing It Right

“A life of discipline is not an easy life, but it is a joyous one, with many soul-satisfying rewards.” — Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The above quote I found at the blog, Yatra. I’ve been enjoying reading around in the small community of white Western Hindus. It seems to be a very communal and supportive group of people. Most people are drawn to all that is Indian; others find God in the Hindu tradition and find other aspects of the culture that way. Most seem to be far more interested in the branches of Hinduism that I am not interested in: predominantly male deities and concerned with Vedic orthodoxy.

At this point, readers are probably aware that I’m trying to ‘do my own thing’ – but what is that? And how can I know what exactly my ‘thing’ is? Million dollar questions, these. I’ll be the first to admit that hate – HATE! – being told what to do. Which is exactly why discipline is so necessary for someone like me. But I must choose it from time to time. It’s an act of surrender, honor, commitment, and love for me to unquestioningly follow orders or forsake other things. I find no satisfaction in doing things ‘just because that is how they are done’ or because ‘Authority says so.’ So for me, following rules and regulations is a regular, ongoing struggle.

I’ve already written about my challenges with vegetarianism (here and here). I decided that vegetarianism is not best for me or my family at this time. I also drink alcohol. I love drinking wine. As someone who did not drink in high school and actively avoided underage drinking culture and didn’t drink much in college, also avoiding ‘party’ culture, it’s odd to think that giving up wine is so difficult for me now. Perhaps that is all the more reason to do it? But I do give it up: I’ve been pregnant twice; I’ve been poor.

What I’m noticing around these issues is my intention and the effects of certain actions. When I regularly do yoga I am less likely to do a number of things that fall into the yamas and niyamas: get angry, drink too much, eat too much, eat heavy inert/packaged foods. I feel like a life lived in accordance with rules, for discipline’s or religion’s sake, is missing the point. Ultimately one must ask, ‘Are these rules/disciplines/behaviors bringing me closer to my goals: knowing God, staying connected with others, being present?’

If you know me at all you’ll know that I am terribly hard on myself. I have a difficult time finding the space between being too hard and too soft on myself. This comes up a lot for me around my morning practice of yoga, meditation and devotions. I find that I feel incomplete without my daily devotions. I feel uncomfortable and like something is missing if I haven’t lit my candle and my incense and said at least a brief good morning at my altar. But the yoga and sitting often gets thrown under the bus in an effort to get enough sleep or corral the kidlets. I try to fit 10 minutes of meditation into nap time. But if I don’t do it before 12.30 it doesn’t happen at all, as that’s when the boy comes home from playschool.

Is having children an appropriate excuse? Or is it just my reality at this time? Night’s lately have been tough; the baby has a cold. Do I get up early anyway and risk nodding off in meditation and doing my routine just to be firm about it? Or do I go with the flow – a flow that might whisk me away from such practices for a year or more? These are the questions I wrestle with, for which I started this project. I still don’t have any answers.

I am starting to see that perhaps the questions of discipline, at this point in time, for me, may not be what I need to be focusing on. I am learning so much already – from the internets, from my practice, from the Hindu tradition. I’m really trying to let go of Doing It Right, since I’m not sure anymore that that is even possible. No matter how you practice or what you believe, there will always be someone else out there (and often in my own head) to say Ur Doin’ It Rong.

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