#1. I’ve practiced with discipline of steel. Once I’ve determined that the practice is what I need to do, there is no negotiation from day to day.
#2. I’ve practiced in “moderation.” If I’m tired or too busy with legit stuff, then I release myself from that practice for that day or week.
#3. I’ve practiced when I feel pain or discomfort, and I let that dictate the intensity and duration of practice and not beat myself up when I don’t.
Relationships are a practice too, but I’m leaving this out for now because this often relies on the other practices.
I’ve moved around on my approaches, and I don’t mean within weeks or months or over a span of a year. I mean #1 and 2 for almost a decade at a time and #3 for months at a time.
What dictates how I approach my practice is my mindset:
#1: The why I’m doing it needs to be clear and unforgettable. Something greater than me is in place, and it conquers any temptation from first thing in the morning and throughout the day until I go to bed. My trust and interest in this process is high with less consideration for the outcome. A difficult day or week does not waver my trust and interest. This approach feels good because conquering time and space strengthens my very core.
#2: I let something in that weakens my consistency muscle and softens my memory. This approach feels good, particularly in the beginning, because I feel like I’m loving myself and taking care of my needs on a daily, need-by-need basis. What happens eventually is that I feel the need to abandon something important to fit in something else that is important and depleted. This approach requires some regular negotiating with the self.
#3: This is a highly motivational place to come from because pain and discomfort is a strong motivator. It needs to be painful and uncomfortable enough for the motivation to take real substance, and it usually takes longer, and can cost more, to remedy. The focus on the outcome alone sabotages sustainability and life becomes up and down. When it leads to something greater than that, it’s a way up.
How I approached my practice often relied on how I felt: the quality of my inner dialogue.
Now, I choose to look to other feedback mechanisms: (1) my energy level determined by the level of stress, overwhelm, and how restful or conquered I am when I wake up in the morning, and (2) the quality of my relationships: Do the people around me see me? How am I to connect with? How do I feel about others? Am I easily irritable or judging?
While feelings are good indicators for how aligned we are in our truth, when we are out of balance, we are likely to use them to distort and create more commotion in our lives. If you are feeling out of balance, consider looking to the other feedback mechanisms and choose your approach accordingly.