The Pain of Discipline vs. the Pain of Regret

I have several practices that I do on a regular basis: yoga, journal writing, and meditation. Over the holidays, and the time leading up to the holidays, my discipline at maintaining these practices has been slipping. As someone with a history of procrastination, I have had any number of reasons (read: excuses) as to why I cannot do any or all of them. Since I practice first thing in the morning, and right before bed, many of my excuses revolve around sleep.

“I stayed up too late last night, so I ‘m going to sleep a little later this morning.”

“I feel a cold coming on, so I am going to rest more to fight it off.”

“I have to finish reading this book so I can get it back to the library.”

Thinking of these three practices (yoga, meditation and journal writing), it can be difficult to measure the effects of doing or not doing them.  If I don’t brush my teeth before bed, it’s easy to relate that to furry teeth and horrible morning breath when I wake up.  If I don’t put my raw breakfast on to soak before I go to bed, I have to have something else to eat in the morning. But is the late afternoon headache coming on because I didn’t do yoga, or because I didn’t drink enough water today?  And am I irritable because I didn’t write in my journal or meditate last night, or because my hormones are changing with the onset of my moon time?

And then there is the guilt.  I made a commitment to myself to practice yoga at least three times a week, and to journal and meditate before bed at least 5 times a week.  If I can’t keep my commitments to myself, how trustworthy am I?  And if I am not keeping my commitments, I am not in alignment, and I am not attracting the things I want into my life.

Why did I make these commitments in the first place?  Yoga helps keep me flexible and is a good way of combating chronic plain.  Writing in my journal and meditating help me stay balanced emotionally, and help me feel calm and peaceful.  I am able to stay focused longer and accomplish more.  And frankly, I don’t like what I become when I am not practicing.

So while it may always seem easier to follow an excuse and not get up for yoga, or short myself on meditation time so I can get back into whatever book I am reading, I almost always end up regretting the decision.  Discipline is much more challenging to maintain, but it is so much easier to live with than the regret of not following the discipline.

Keep this in mind as you make your New Year’s Resolutions, if you partake in that ritual.  Will you be self-disciplined enough to keep your commitment?



PS. How do I best impart this lesson, which has taken me over 30 years to understand (and I still haven’t gotten it perfect!), to my young sons? 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Quote:

    “I made a commitment to myself to practice yoga at least three times a week, and to journal and meditate before bed at least 5 times a week. If I can’t keep my commitments to myself, how trustworthy am I?”

    Mary, I think you may be looking at this harsher than you neeed to. Breaking a promise to yourself does not make you less trustworthy. I know you don’t break promises to your friends and those you love. The question might be, why do you treat yourself worse than you would treat your friends?

    I’m needing to work on this myself, especially in regards to holding myself to unrealistic standards that I would never hold anyone else to… I need to remember to treat myself as well as those I love, and to remember to treat family as well as I would treat a friend…

  2. Good questions, Whitney. Part if it goes back to something I learned at Enlightened Warrior Training Camp. It has to do with manifesting what I want in my life. As an Enlightened Warrior, my word is law in the Universe. If I say I’m going to do something, even if I just say it to myself, then I have made a commitment and to stay in integrity with myself and my values, I need to follow through and keep that commitment. If someone else tells me they are going to do something, then I depend on them to do it; I expect them to keep their word. So I’m really not expecting more of myself in this case than I expect of my friends.

    Now, with regards to unrealistic expectations, that’s another story! I often think that I will be able to accomplish more in a limited time than I end up being able to do, and that frustrates me. But in that case, the goal I have set to accomplish X (like writing the introduction pages for all of my guided meditations) is not unrealistic at all. What WAS unrealistic was the time frame I had set to have it completed (the end of my Christmas break). So, I take a deep breath, and adjust the time line, and move forward. I will get them all completed, just not before I have to go back to work on Tuesday! 🙂

    Does that make sense?