The subject of discipline is perhaps not a very popular one among adults (and perhaps even children for that matter) because one of the definitions of discipline is
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience (noun)
In addition, discipline may invoke a feeling of being under someone else’s control and being subject to rules and conditioning by authority figures like parents, teachers or our bosses in the work environment. As a parent, I am often conflicted about how much and when to impose discipline, as there seems to be all kind of contradictory advice on what is best for a growing child.
However, we can reframe the connotation of discipline. Once we add the single word, “self” in front of the word “discipline”, we perhaps view it differently, for it becomes “self-discipline”. It is perhaps a sign of a state of maturity in our lives that we enter the domain of self-discipline. One definition of self-discipline is
the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
Indeed, self-discipline seems much more appealing, because it gives control back to us, and a sense of empowerment and choice. We are now in charge of our own growth and responsible for our own success and failure in all areas of our lives. As we move from childhood to our teenage years, go through our rebellious phase (against discipline imposed on us by others), we eventually move into a phase of life where we come face to face with self-discipline. Our emotional, financial, physical and spiritual health - all of them, to a great degree, are affected by self-discipline.
“Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It require you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.” - Gary Ryan Blair
We may have very good self-discipline in some areas of our lives as compared to other areas - which area of your life do you have the best self-discipline in? Which area is your greatest challenge? What character qualities are pre-requisites for self-discipline? What external or internal factors affect or disturb our self-discipline? How does self-discipline affect our spiritual practice(s) and spiritual growth?
I invite you to come and share your thoughts on self-discipline with the #SpiritChat community. We will have a live tweetchat discussion on twitter on Sunday July 15th at 9am EDT / 2pm UK / 6:30pm IST. You can “join” the open chat by tweeting with hashtag #SpiritChat or join us via the web.
P.S. I invite you to also connect with us on our new Facebook page for more discussion during the week. In addition, feel free to share your thoughts on self-discipline in the comment area below. I always learn a lot from your feedback - thank you!
Update: Here are the questions that were asked during the live chat on Sunday July 15th from 9-10am ET. SpiritChat Transcript on Discipline (in html format) and condensed, downloadable pdf version (note that all time-stamps in transcripts are ET +4 i.e. GMT) - Enjoy!
Q1. What is your first reaction to the word discipline? Positive? Negative? Neutral? #SpiritChat Q2. Why is self-discipline important? How do we develop it? #SpiritChat Q3. What factors hinder our practice of self-discipline? How do we overcome them? #SpiritChat Q4. For you, what is the most challenging area of self-discipline - mind, body or spirit? Why? #SpiritChat Q5. What is the connection between temptation, restraint and self-discipline? #SpiritChat Q6. How does self-discipline influence our spiritual growth? #SpiritChat Q7. Who is a role model of spiritual self-discipline for you? Why? #SpiritChat Final. Q8. What area of self-discipline will you focus on most this week? How? #SpiritChat