Discipline? Ouch! That’s not comfortable.
Discomfort. *tear* I… I… I need a break, or maybe… a snack!
So… the disciplined life is REALLY hard. It’s supposed to be. To think we’d easily step in to, say, for example, a new, healthier way of eating without difficulty and discomfort, would show a severe lack in Wisdom (I’m reticent to use the word “diet” because people usually infer from that word some sort of short-term, quick fix, and not a lifestyle change of how and what one eats).
Changing how and what we eat, on a root level, is difficult (as a New Orleanian living in Colorado, y’all gotta trust me on this. LOL). Deep, family traditions around certain dishes - complete with happy memories, the addictive nature of caffeine, and the opiate-like chemicals in dairy that make it nigh-impossible for many of us to give up cheese are some of the biological things that make it hard to change how we eat (not to mention the mental and spiritual challenges). So hard, in fact, that it proved to be too difficult to cope with without a safety net…
The Cheat Day.
I mean c’mon… about 86% of our eating time is devoted to the gods of kale, chard, and probiotics. Can’t the remaining 14% be ours to enjoy? Damn, healthy-food… why ya gotta be so… fibrous, and green???
What, then, do we do about it? We justify the cheat day by bastardizing a Virtue for personal gain: Moderation. See, what happens when we do that isn’t practicing Moderation. We end up, in our weakness, practicing Idiot-moderation*.
* (Note on the Tripartite Virtues© teaching: Imagine each virtue as a peak of balance with three arms extending from it. Our goal in a virtue practice is to reside at the center, the most pure and healthy expression of the virtue, but our balance is compromised by the weights at the ends of the three extending arms. At the end of the first arm is a point representing the LACK of the virtue. e.g. Hospitality v. miserliness. The end of the second arm holds the IDIOT virtue. e.g. when harm is caused to you/yours or others by offering too much - when the generosity of hospitality becomes enabling, or takes food out of your family’s mouths. At the end of the third and final arm dwells the WEAPONIZED virtue. e.g. holding otherwise virtuous actions over someone to harm, guilt, or manipulate them - “I did -whatever- for you, and I can’t believe you won’t -whatever- for me”. If anyone has questions on the Tripartite Virtues© teaching, please email me, and I’ll be happy to unpack as much as you need.)
I don’t know about y’all, but I know how I feel after my “cheat days”... I feel like shit, and usually after a couple days back on track, I note how great I feel.
But then, after a couple more days, things start getting difficult again… and what gives us the strength to make it through? The forthcoming opportunity to lay down our burdens, and fill ourselves with delights from days of food-past.
The Cheat Day.
If the practice of discipline is part of what fulfills our spirits and heals our bodies, then the Cheat Day is spiritual bypass with physical repercussions.
(Now, let’s take the above metaphor of one’s diet and shift it to one’s mental discipline and mindfulness practice - take a moment and reflect on that.)
While I might not be overly-judgy when it comes to folx engaging in actual dietary cheat-days, as a religious professional, I can’t be down with a day off from our religions and spiritual disciplines. That’s stone-cold bullshit.
When we seek excuses to not practice discipline and meditate in stillness, we convince ourselves (and gods forbid, our teachers and reviewers) that other activities are equally as valid for the same outcome and spiritually meaningful in the same way.
If we can’t control ourselves enough to sit still for 5-10 min, how can we expect greater discipline to come from things more complex?
Sorry, y’all… that’s not just a spiritual cheat-day. It’s turning every day into a cheat-day.
Ultimately, we’re blindly punishing ourselves while delusionally believing we’re giving ourselves a reward.
Pleasure becomes punishment, and our undisciplined passions and emotions win again.
(See y’all tomorrow)