The Secret to Discipline

I have been under the false assumption that to be disciplined you need to try really hard. Work, work, work. I have spent so much of my time obsessing over goals. Trying and trying. Only to meet defeat over and over again.

“I am just not trying enough?”
“Is there something wrong with me?”
“Will I ever be able to practice everyday?”
“Will I ever get to my goal?”


For the longest time I was so obsessed. Every waking moment seemed to be consumed with ideas to train in martial arts, to write, to do anything I had in mind to get myself to the next step in my evolutionary path. When my Sensei checked my pulses while I was still training at the dojo, he told me that my pulse had so much heat in my blood that I could have a stroke when I was 50 years old. Nothing seemed to make sense though. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around relaxing, yet also getting my work done.

Fast forward three years. I had seemingly, finally achieved what I wanted. I was in bliss every day from my new meditation technique. I was waking up at 5:30am and fitness training every day. I got in nearly the best shape of my life. I was starting this business, which you see here through my site, and I began the process to write the three novels, one of which was written and just needed to be edited and published. I was on top of the world. That is until I injured my shoulder.

I was put out of commission for exercising and knew that if I pushed my shoulder I could have a permanent issue for the rest of my life. All the foam rolling, stretching, and focusing on form didn’t help any longer. Then I hit a road block in my writing. Soon after that meditation became impossible, and it was all walls and no serenity. It was so excruciating just sitting on the cushion and at some points I had to just get up and let go.

Then in a strange turn of events I found my ex back in my life (the same one mentioned in my blog “Reflection”) and we surprised each other in how much we both had changed for the better. I now had my entire way of life blasted to pieces. The road I was on took a massive turn and I was drowning in the uncertainty.

In desperation I reached out to Tony, that man that started it all. When I spoke to him he surprised me with his insight. He held up the mirror for me and showed me, very clearly, how deeply my actions were ingrained in ego. It was something that I suspected but truly couldn’t acknowledge. All the looking at myself in the mirror to see how fit I had become (which I may add was never enough). The constant obsessing over getting my business off the ground and figuring out my stories. I was in the same place I started with the same poison. The only thing that changed was the way that I was taking it.

I had wrapped up my self-worth in all the goals. Being an “achiever” had become my main focus. With my ex in the picture and her getting out of a bad relationship, he showed me how my “giver” attitude was also ego. I wanted to help her out. To help her pick up the pieces and show her the authentic love that I was finally able to give.

He asked me if I had ever asked why she had come back into my life. I never did. “What’s the first thing that people ask when tragedy happens? ‘Why me?’ Do you think that they ever ask that when they win the lottery?”

He asked me if I had expectations on where I thought we would go, of how she would help me grow into a better person, and how I would be able to give her the love that she deserves. I was blown away. I could feel clearly in my body he was telling the truth. I was so concerned about getting what I wanted that I never considered the reason why she had really come back onto my path. Seeing her again was felt exactly like winning the lottery. My ego’s face came into focus clear as day. It was that cornerstone that let the whole tower fall. I cried for a half hour on the phone with him.

All the things that I had done to better myself and the world around me was all ego. Everything crumbled around me and I was torn apart. For weeks all I was able to do was meditate, which ironically came back to me after everything else fell apart. I stopped working out, stopped waking up early, stopped writing, and just lived my life. I felt totally powerless.

Until one night I had a dream. I was in the dojo again and my Sensei was there. I had no uniform with me, so I thought I may not be able to train. After talking with my Sensei for a while and assuring him that I was ok, he went to teach his class.

I found myself in the class and watching everyone train. It all looked so fun! Their exaggerated poses and flowing movements reminded me of how much I loved the art. (Although we never actually did stuff like that in real life!) Eventually the scene shifted, and I found myself training with them and the feeling was exhilarating. I woke up with a clear sense of joy and that something had shifted.

I broke down the symbolism of the dream and then realized something. I love to challenge myself. The goal was beside the point. Just getting up and “training” each day is wonderful to me. The dojo is a state of mind. It symbolizes discipline and warriorship to me. To let go of that would mean losing out on fun.

We don’t need to push ourselves to achieve our goals. Actually, I have found that when we let go and open ourselves to the truth, we find that our joy is the way to reach all the things that we wish to achieve. The pushing and forcing is denying who we really are. Everything can be like play. We can be child-like and enjoy all aspects of life. We can enjoy the wonderful adventure of enjoying time with friends, relaxing, and all the other worldly comforts life has to offer. We can also enjoy our “work” just as much. Life doesn’t have to be a big battle. All we need to do is honor ourselves and the rest will fall into place.

- KW

Kyle WestermanComment