There is so much that is offered to the imagination. So many practices to consider in our vocation of writing. So many paths that can be taken (and made) in our spiritual lives. And there are so many reasons to feel despair due to all the difficulties, divisions and sufferings in the world today. So much that is out of our control. But it is through our intentions and disciplines, in following what we long for, that will help us arrive at a more unified, meaningful place.
Even how we awake can be a small , meaningful discipline.
“Waking up into even the most ordinary day is a discipline, a test of our ability to hold the interior world, where we have just been re-imagined and revolutionized, with the moving, tidal, seasonal, not to be controlled, physical world we are just about to enter.” David Whyte: Essentials . Many Rivers Press.
I wake as slow as possible, then I recite a vow aloud. These vows evolve as I age. Some I have created myself and some I have borrowed from my spiritual teachings. But waking in a way that is more of a welcome than a chore is a great discipline. How do you greet yourself, your day?
Each day offers up an invitation to listen and follow our longings, but each path will be made with a recognition for the necessity of discipline.
How is listening to what you love a discipline? Write about that.
Discipline is purely cognitive. All discipline is interior. The result of inner disciplines is physical and emotional. Getting my boots and winter pants on to go for my daily walk is a mental process of preparedness. (One I can talk myself out of!) Once I am dressed and ready, the walk is a joy. I often set the discipline of going to a certain destination, only then having to return if I want to get back home. Getting to the meditation cushion or empty page is the simple discipline of arrival. The discipline of showing up. More often than not, once we arrive, we will meditate or write. Best to make the time commitment reasonable, small, with a possibility of more time dedicated to our creative callings. 8 minutes of meditation every day is better than an hour once in a while. Writing for 15 golden minutes every day is better than sporadic, long sits with weeks, or years in between.
Think small. Set a destination point and get your pants on.
Again, the mind is what will bring you to the page or cushion. The disciplines of thought. The discipline of training our minds is the path. One of our necessary disciplines is the ability to stay close to what is still hidden and unknown in us, the interior world of our curiosities and questions, out of which our new and meaningful future will arrive.
What is a first or next step toward what you long for? Write about that.
Consider your disciplines to be an act of self-compassion. Contemplate that.
A small discipline comes into what we say no to. Write about that.
These small disciplines are not ones dictated to us by religious figures or established authors, or your mother. These are invitations of self-love, a way that we follow what we love to some future destination.
What do you love? Write about that.
Where do you find yourself wanting to be, but resisting the arrival? Write about that.
What interior discipline is needed to better show up in your life? Write about that.
As with all manner of discipline, we gain most when we are willing to freely choose what seems difficult. An invitation to choose something that calls to us but takes a courage and an interior insistence to show up for.
“The intention of an ascetical discipline is not to turn you into a spiritual warrior, but to free you for compassion and love towards others and towards yourself.” O'Donohue, John. Eternal Echoes HarperCollins
“Meanwhile, Leopold’s study of birds became more disciplined. He first began to keep systematic records of his observations in 1902. As the migrations began in the early months of 1903, Aldo was up before the sun, out on the blufftop with his notebook in one hand and his grandmother’s opera glasses in the other, gazing up into the trees.” Meine, Curt D.. Aldo Leopold. University of Wisconsin Press.
“Anyone even vaguely familiar with Buddhism will understand that it places greater emphasis on the mind as the principal means for salvation than it does on an external deity. While this general assumption is certainly correct, the Buddhist canon, as preserved in several Asian languages, contributes a vast literature on the purification, discipline, and transformation of the mind. The lojong teachings have been extracted from the most essential and fundamental aspects of these teachings and practices.” Kyabgon, Traleg. The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind. Shambhala.
“People wonder, “How does one reach this state of awareness,” but few follow the steps because they are so simple. First, the desire to reach that state was intense. Then began the discipline to act with constant and universal forgiveness and gentleness, without exception. One”. Hawkins, David R.. Letting Go (p. 348). Hay House.
RISE!: Transformational Writing and Yoga:
Restorative•Integrative•Soulful•Empowering. An upcoming WINTER retreat by Molly Chanson and Julie Tallard Johnson. Save the dates: February 19th, 20th & 21st . REGISTER HERE: RISE! Join Molly and me for a unique experience of writing, contemplation & yoga.