Tag Archives: self-discipline


a small child learns self discipline through aikido, a type of martial artskerr cuhulain is my favourite wiccan author so i was delighted to find out he now has a blog. kerr cuhulain believes in cultivating virtues (he calls them codes of chivalry), and proposes to focus on a specific one every month.

may is related to self discipline.  in thinking about that, i looked around the net to see what others have to say about it.

for example, alfi questions the ideas behind self discipline, especially in a teaching context, and  peter bankart compares western psychotherapy with buddhist approaches, linking the concept of self-discipline to right effort.

but as so often, steve pavlina takes the cake.  i don’t know why i don’t read his blog more often (hm, would that be part of self discipline?) – the guy is a genius in the way he clarifies concepts and encourages action.  he has a whole series on self-discipline.

here he compares the development of self discipline to developing muscle.

if you can only lift 10 lbs, you can only lift 10 lbs. there’s no shame in starting where you are. i recall when i began working with a personal trainer several years ago, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press, i could only lift a 7-lb bar with no weight on it. my shoulders were very weak because i’d never trained them. but within a few months i was up to 60 lbs.

similarly, if you’re very undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. the more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. as you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.

don’t compare yourself to other people. it won’t help. you’ll only find what you expect to find. if you think you’re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. if you think you’re strong, everyone else will seem weaker. there’s no point in doing this. simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.

oh, and when i was about ready to post list little entry, i checked out @spiver on twitter today, who is working on a self-discipline project for a month.  among other things, she offers this quote by david allen, of getting things done fame:

stress comes from breaking your commitments to yourself

okay, i’m going to get off the computer now and do some things i have promised myself to do.

what about you?

image by felipe vieira

anorexia and the six ways of the bodhisattva

on our somewhat eventful drive back from kelowna, i lost, for the second time, my copy of pema chodron’s the places that scare you. i think the little book fell out when i got out of the car after we had just ploughed into a snow bank in order to avoid a collision (don’t worry, we’re fine, and some good people helped us dig out the car and put it back onto the slippery coquihalla highway).

fortunately, most of what pema chodron says is easy to find on the web. the chapter that i’m going to refer to is here, in an abbreviated version, under the title the heart of the bodhisattva. chodron calls it the

bodhisattva-warrior, one who is brave and confident enough to overcome self-centeredness in order to help others.

we practice and study to sharpen this [bodhisattva] mind so that we can know what is appropriate action. taking the appropriate action is a powerful tool: in one moment we can cross into the mind of enlightenment.

the way we proceed on this path is with prajna, the inquisitive mind that sees the wisdom in each situation. there are six ways to do this … they’re called paramitas, a sanskrit word that means “that which has reached other shore.” [prajna is the first or sixth paramita, depending on how you look at it – isabella]

[one] paramita is generosity … with generosity we overcome attachment.

next is discipline. with discipline we know what to accept and what to reject. the way we use discipline to transport us to the other shore in a moment is to look at our mind, speech and activity with this question, “is this taking me toward enlightenment or suffering?”

the next paramita is patience … it overcomes anger … if we’re about to blow up, the best thing to do is just sit there, settle, breathe.

the next paramita is exertion [in the book she calls it ‘enthusiasm’], which has an element of joy … going beyond ourselves brings pleasure.

the fifth paramita is meditation. with the practice of meditation we discover our mind’s inherent stability, clarity and strength.

as i was reading this, i was thinking of people with anorexia. how could these paramitas apply? does any one of them offer an obvious entry point to recovery? (i say ‘obvious’ because our minds’ and hearts’ ways are mysterious and of course anything and everything has the potential to be an entry point to recovery – there are 84,000 ways to hear the dharma.)

one of the things i like to so much about pema chodron is that she talks in such a delightful way about our imperfections. one such imperfection is that many of us come to a sense of spirituality not out of “pure” motives but because we’re wildly thrashing about for a way out of our misery.

it occurs to me, then, that if a person who is looking for a way out and whose anorexia shows itself in self-negation and a well-developed sense of self-control, might find the paramita of discipline attractive. maybe also long sessions of zazen (sitting meditation).

for someone who is more advanced in his or her recovery from anorexia, i’m sure it’s much easier to look at all the paramitas, perhaps even the idea of pleasure (something so difficult with anorexia …)

you can tell that i’ve never had a buddhist client who was struggling with anorexia 🙂

where am i going with this? i don’t know. but for some reason i’m intrigued by the connection that could be made here. maybe some of the people in tomorrow’s carnival of eating disorders will be able to shine a light on it.

the only other blogger i could find who talked about pema chodron in relation to anorexia is anne at waiting for the rebirth of wonder. anne, what do you say?