We are becoming a soft culture. When life seems a little challenging, it is easy to escape, and the escape routes are numerous. Food, alcohol, stores, television, and internet are among the variety of ways we can pamper ourselves. When we continually take these easy escape routes, we lose access to our capacity to endure.
Self-discipline is about shortening the distance between ourselves, our lives, and the Divine by getting rid of our escape routes. It is having the courage to face our lives as they are and the ability to stay in our lives no matter what. It is seizing hardship and disappointments as an opportunity to develop new skills.
Yogiraj Achala said, “Have a philosophy and be a disciple of it.” With this niyama, Patanjali is asking us to be a disciple of a calm mind. Whatever cultivates a calm mind, do it. Whatever cultivates a support system for a calm mind, practice it. Plug the holes of weakness wherever you find them with an all-inclusive balanced and nourishing life style. Build the foundation of endurance, strength, resilience, and character upon which the mind can rest.
[This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Integral Yoga Magazine on Cultivating the Niyamas by Deborah Adele]