I’ve been thinking about the word discipline.
Sometime around September last year I misplaced my Bikram mojo and it has been on a steady decline ever since. It happened for more than one reason but until recently I didn’t realise that my unsuccessful application for the Teacher Training Scholarship had affected me as much as it had. It turned things upside-down for me so suddenly that I lost my balance. At the time I felt like I understood why I’d not been successful and so I blamed my waning Bikram dedication on other things. A combination of the fact that I now work much further away and the increasing work demands meant I wasn’t making it to class as often. But even on weekends, I found that I was lacking the drive to get me to the studio. And further still, once I was there, I just wasn’t putting into it what I used to and therefore I wasn’t getting the same out. Overall, it became less rewarding. It became a tense relationship. And for a couple of months I asked myself if I was really meant to be be a Bikram teacher. I held the question at a distance. I let it float about my periphery. I brought it closer. I turned it over in my hands, I sniffed at it. I breathed it in. I let it have its time.
Teachers often talk about how you “come to class to work on your focus and discipline”. They tell you that it’s not important how deep you go into each posture, or how many of the postures you do. What is important is that you use your focus and discipline to do whatever you are able to do that day calmly, breathing through the nose, making sure you have the correct alignment and the correct set up. Steady, calm and strong. That you don’t scratch, wipe, readjust, or fidget in between postures, that you don’t leave the room, and that you don’t let anyone or anything disturb your peace. You do this for yourself. You do this for your neighbours. Discipline. You hear that word a lot.
And I had started using the word discipline against myself. Beating myself up about not having any. About how fickle I was being. No willpower. No discipline. Lazy. It wasn’t a gentle word, a word of love or encouragement. I was spitting it at myself. I whipped myself with it and caused emotional welts (well, I was raised a Catholic… *tongue-in-cheek-smiley-face*). It’s a word of punishment and control. No wonder I found myself retreating further and further away from my love of Me In The Hot Room.
I decided that, to save my relationship with Me In The Hot Room, I needed to change my relationship with that word. Discipline. I was lying in Savasana one evening listening to the teacher talk about discipline – not for the first time in that class – and I had an Aha! moment. Discipline. Disciple. (There’s an unintended Catholic theme to this piece.)
They both come from the Latin discipulus “pupil, student, follower”. The concept of a disciple is that we surrender ourselves to something or someone out of love. We’ve either reaped rewards already or we are promised that we will. Either way, there is faith and there is love. I am of the former; I became a Bikram devotee and evangelist because it was the only thing that released the intense pain and increasing immobility I was suffering. It was nothing short of mind-blowing. So my Aha! moment was this: I would no longer punish myself with the word discipline. Instead I would surrender myself to the word disciple. I would be a willing, diligent and loving follower of my own, sometimes up, sometimes down, healthful, strengthening, nurturing and not-taking-it-all-too-seriously practice. I would lop off the in in discipline and turn it into a loving gentle word.
I’ve since found Me In The Hot Room again and I’m having a great time reconnecting with her. And for this reason – my journey, all of the above, my ups, my downs – of course I’m meant to be a teacher.