Reblog: Reclaiming the word discipline and living with intention

This is a reblog from my blog, DruidHeart, at Sagewoman Magazine’s channel on Witches and Pagans.





noun: discipline

1.    the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

“a lack of proper parental and school discipline”

2.    a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.

“sociology is a fairly new discipline”


Wow. No wonder people hate the word discipline. It’s often equated with punishment, correcting a perceived disobedience. We are free people, we should be able to do what we want, when we want, so long as it harms none. Life is for living, right?

Of course, I would agree with the above, that we are free, that life is for living. However, I’m also here to reclaim the word discipline into something that is positive.

We live in a world filled with instant gratification. We have IPhones and tablets that can “connect” us with people anywhere, anytime, so that we never have to be alone (even in a crowd of people). We have hundreds upon hundreds of television channels that tempt us into thinking that something better than the current moment we are living in is on the tube. We have internet to answer all questions at the push of a button. We have access to food 24/7 (most of us) – we’re usually never too far away from our larders or a shop. We love to “treat” ourselves. Marketing has told us that “we’re worth it”, or making us feel that we’re not good enough, and with their product we will be. Problems solved, instantly.

Now, this isn’t a blog post about self-denial, asceticism or anything similar. It is about truly seeing and understanding our needs versus our desires. Our modern world has twisted our desires into needs, and it is up to us to rebalance, to rejig our way of thinking in order to live a life filled with more intention.

I work three jobs, alongside my work as a Druid priest. Time can be in pretty hard demand sometimes, but planning makes it all work. It takes effort, but that is what discipline is: effort made in order to improve a situation, to live a life of intention, to learn more about integration and compassion.

This is only an excerpt – to read the full article, click HERE.

6 thoughts on “Reblog: Reclaiming the word discipline and living with intention

  1. I read, and re-read the full article this post links to. Something struck me in both your opening and in your closing:

    “Let’s see it [discipline] as a branch of knowledge, as in the second description at the beginning of this post. Let’s see it as a branch of knowledge, in and of itself.”

    There is another word in our language, closely related to ‘discipline,’ and that is ‘disciple.’ Many of course associate the word with the followers of Jesus; but the word has to it the general meaning of someone who simply follows – as either a pupil or adherent – to someone’s doctrines, or really just as someone who simply follows. With that in mind, discipline represents a path, with the key word here being the singular ‘a.’

    A disciplined approach is but one of many. You use the branch analogy in this post: trees are quite often full of branches, all pointing in different directions. The approaches we take will tend to differ, as our paths and goals tend to differ. Citing an example from your article, a lot of people are overweight these days. Is it fair to chock this off to a lack of nutritional or athletic discipline, though? We could also cite skyrocketing divorce rates as an example of low-disciplined approaches to relationships; but this is the wrong way to look at things because it is not only utterly unsound logic in that it completely ignores fate and circumstance with its generalizing, it also involves making judgments over other people and their circumstances that we simply aren’t qualified or entitled to make.

    I actually like your branch analogy, but would like to add the humble squirrel to the picture: sometimes the squirrel needs to take a single branch and follow it all the way to the end to get that last acorn; and sometimes the squirrel needs to hop back and forth across numerous branches. I’ve learned in my own life that when I need discipline to get me to where I need or want to be, I employ it as well as I need to. When I don’t need discipline, or when I need a different approach, I use something else, instead. If I fail, like the squirrel, I fall … but then we don’t want to try to discuss discipline with squirrels 😉

  2. An interesting post that’s a little in the vein of your “part-time pagan” one. I tend to agree with you in many ways although I recognise that it’s easy for me, living in the UK, retired, with a home and pension, to take a moral high ground. I have simple tastes and all my real physical needs are met. It was harder to live as I wanted when I had a job that demanded so much of my time and a family that deserved more – and even then I was insulated from real problems by living in the UK.

    “I love the idea of a monastic way of life.” I like the idea of simplicity myself but I was very aware, when closely involved with a convent community, that, in many ways, they lived a privileged life, isolated and protected from many of the day to day aspects of life that are so difficult for some to manage. It was almost a form of selfishness that, although they did much good and worked to help others, ultimately it was their own lifestyle, ascetic as it may have been, that took precedence. Having a family often means that your own needs and desires really must come second. As a religious, one could say that others are placed first but there never seemed to be quite the same personal aspect. (My judgement is based on only the one group of one religious order and may not be representative of course.)

    Your comment about “seeing and understanding our needs versus our desires”, I think, gets to the crux of the matter. I’m happy to have my luxuries but I recognise them as luxuries. Looking back to my (very happy) childhood easily allows me to see that some things that may be considered “necessities” these days (central heating, TV, phone, computer, car, holidays away, even running hot water and inside toilets) are actually luxuries which I enjoy but know I could live without.

    “We can look at our impulse buying as well.” As far as most purchases go, the test I tend to use is to ask myself if or how my life will actually change if I acquire something. Often the temptation to buy an object is really the hope that you’re going to be able to buy what it represents rather than for what it really is/does. My own technique involves as much planning ahead as possible (I try to work out what’s likely to break/wear out next) and then plenty of time spent looking just for what I actually need (or even want). I don’t do impulse buys and, unless something’s needed (not wanted) really urgently, I tend to leave at least a week between finding the thing I was looking for and actually going out and buying it. The advantage of the computer age is that, even if something unexpectedly breaks and has to be replaced urgently, you can look at the range of what’s available on line first so you only ever go out to buy something knowing in advance what it is you’re going for.

    (The downside of a lot of all this is that I must be an incredibly boring person to live with!)

    • Bless! Sounds like my husband!

      Monastic communities that I know are formed with the intent of engaged Buddhism, such as Thich Nhat Hanh created in Vietnam. When the bombs were falling, he states that they had choice – stay in the monastery and work towards peace, or get out there and help people rebuild their homes, with no anger, no Us and Them attitude. I believe he coined the phrase, engaged Buddhism, but I may be wrong.

      My dream of the Little Pagan Monastery has been talked about in previous blog posts- you might find it interesting Steve! Not separate from society, but utterly devoted. Some would call it a commune, but that title just doesn’t sit right – it would be open to those who seek retreat from the world for however long a time, in order to better engage with it when they are ready, whether that is right now or in a few years’ time…

      It might happen one day. Thay did it – why not us? 🙂

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