Casual Disicpline

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Jack Kornfield quote
Have you ever heard the expression, “Casual Discipline”? This year, I have been invited to treat myself with casual discipline. Up to this point, I had never heard of such a notion. I was immediately intrigued and like a fish, I took a nibble.  Now I am in: hook, line and sinker. Though, initially I wanted to know more and figure out what does it really mean.

I looked up the meaning of both these words and found myself delighted by their associations. So, according to the internet, discipline is defined as a practice; a training that improves skill. Casual is defined as relaxed, friendly, and easy-going. Combine the two words and you have a friendly, easy-going practice. I can do that 🙂

Another more familiar expression comes to mind: practice makes perfect, though I disagree. Practice doesn’t make perfect but rather “Practice Makes Permanent.” If I repeatedly practice yoga with poor form, for example, I’ll hurt myself and cement in several potentially permanent poor postures. Or if in my massage practice I made it a habit to stack my shoulder over my elbow while using a forearm technique, I will be reinforcing healthy body mechanics and protect myself from injury. Why would I ever choose not to take care of myself.

This year my resolution is to have a friendly practice—to treat myself with friendliness. I believe friendliness is a noble trait, even a virtue, worth refining. I’m choosing relationships, foods, attitudes, and postures, that are friendly. It sounds easy, but I had no idea how un-friendly I’d been treating myself. Practicing friendliness is a discipline that requires attention to how I think and talk about myself, to others and myself. Can I be friendly with and towards myself all the time, or at least when I remember?

Sometimes it feels hard to step away from the whirlwind of schedules—when I notice the urgency of so much to do, some many places to go, and several people wanting things from me— I step back and notice: Am I being friendly towards me? As soon as I ask myself this question I immediately notice a shift. I feel more relaxed and a little relieved. I notice that my shoulders drop, my spine lengthens, and my breath deepens. I must say I am liking this practice that allows room for good feelings to flow in with regularity.

I am sharing this with you because what I would like for you is much of the same feelings and things I would like for myself. And thats to feel the warmth of friendship to build from the inside out. Be your own best friend! Be your own best company!

I invite you to join me for a year of casual discipline. Try out a regular practice of friendliness towards yourself and together we can unfold greater love, acceptance, and empathy for all those we touch.

“A Quality of Mature Spirituality is Kindness. It is Based on the Fundamental Notion of Self-Acceptance” ~Jack Kornfield


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