Alternative MethodsConventional Methods


December 3

What is Spiritual Discipline

Reading time 3 min.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ~Aristotle

Today my thoughts landed on integrating a type of discipline I call “spiritual discipline” as a sort of foundation for the spiritual journey. It is a discipline of the mind, body, and spirit and thus can be a subtle yet rigorous practice.

I understand for many of you the idea of discipline may feel counterintuitive, to being spiritual. That being “in the flow” asks that we not be regimented in a way that we have equated with the word discipline.

This topic comes up often and as a “Spiritual Guide” or “Energy Therapist”, I am asked for support by folks when they are struggling with the idea of discipline within their spiritual practices.

My question for these clients and you is this: What if I told you that you could experience more (maybe even complete) grace and ease, on your personal path? Would you be intrigued? Would you be doubtful? Would you be willing?

What I’ve noticed is that we can have a tendency, in the spirit of “Surrender”, to disengage from our life. This shows up as denial, procrastination, or apathy. It can leave us feeling depressed, anxious, and confused. This type of disengagement or preoccupation is not surrendering, it is a form of neglect. Spiritual discipline is having the discipline to respond to and engage in your life in a way that is tending to yourSelf and how that Self (aka your soul or spirit) expresses itself in your life.

“Know yourself so well that you will grow into your wholeness and greatness.” ~ C.L.

Let’s take a closer look at what I mean by spiritual discipline.

Spiritual discipline is NOT

  • Autopilot
  • Regimented
  • Will power
  • Spiritual bypassing
  • Spiritual discipline IS:
  • Awareness
  • Curiosity
  • Spaciousness
  • Somatic
  • Rigorous
  • Fluid

As you may have guessed, I am not speaking about the kind of discipline it takes to not eat a chocolate chip cookie. This willpower type of discipline has an inherent want or outcome expectation. It is employed in a moment of controlling your behavior and depends upon imbalance. When we apply this type of discipline, we are simply obeying the strongest belief system at that moment.

What I am referring to is Spiritual Discipline which is the discipline it takes to thoroughly notice, nurture and tend to all parts of yourSelf, at all times. This type of discipline asks that we stay engaged in the effort of life whilst not knowing what the outcome will be. This type of discipline is a choice we make many many many times a day while continually being curious about our beliefs and it flourishes when we are rested, in balance, and awake.

Spiritual discipline is to pay attention to and to know yourself so well that you become enamored with each moment and your experience within the moment. Spiritual discipline is to notice the anger, fear, or anxiety and continue to stay present as a neutral witness.

Spiritual discipline is about creating space where we are free to question our physical, mental, and emotional reactions, behaviors, and beliefs.

Tending to ourselves in this way is essential in order to stay emotionally, physically, and spiritually resonant and in integrity with yourSelf. This resonance allows for the space needed to experience your life with awareness, curiosity, acceptance, and willingness. You allow the spirit to take the wheel using wisdom and grace as its fuel and navigation system.

The 6 Key Components of Spiritual Discipline

  • Trust — Surrender to the wisdom, grace, and uncertainty of life.
  • Awareness — Be present with your sensations and emotions.
  • Spaciousness — Create space for curiosity and wonder.
  • Witness — Befriend and witness all parts of yourself with compassion.
  • Integrate — Live in integrity with the expression of all parts of you.
  • and then we begin again with
  • Trust — Surrender to the wisdom, grace, and uncertainty of life.

I want to acknowledge for you and for me that this practice can be scary. We may sense that there may be at the root of the behavior or belief, immense pain that we fear will overwhelm us. I recognize a deep sense of courage and trust is needed. For this reason trust sandwiches all we do. Trust in yourSelf, trust in your experience, trust in life, and trust in spirit. Also trust in a professional, mentor, or friend can be very profound.

Today, I invite you to simply allow these ideas to land in your mind, body, and soul. You may want to write about them, meditate upon them or talk them through with a trusted friend. Begin to digest them with curiosity and wonder. Create space and time for your awareness, recognition, and unfolding. Trust that with this practice you will become stronger and very connected to your own unique spiritual discipline.

In closing, there is also a myriad of structures and practices that can facilitate and support your spiritual discipline. Mindfulness practices, recovery programs, psychotherapy, and energy therapy are but a few. I find that a mix and match approach leaves space for exploration, open-mindedness, curiosity, and FUN in our daily life.

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