I woke up this morning in a beautiful Encore Las Vegan to prepare for my presentation at the Surgical Conference. After wrapping up a meeting with my Chief, it got me thinking about discipline and the way it alters our life.
Does it make us free?
Does it liberate us?
Let’s find out…
The human person is a delicate composition of body and soul that is carefully linked by the will and the intellect. Most of the animal kingdom lives directed by instincts and conditioned responses. As human beings, we have consciousness and choice in a way that animals do not, and these are what set us apart.
But we also have instincts, and for better or for worse, we are capable of conditioned responses, though because we possess the higher faculties of will and intellect, we can choose which responses we want to become conditioned to. Furthermore, we are aware of which responses are good for us and which are self-destructive. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our ability to control our physical appetites.
The body is amazing and wonderful, but left to its own instincts and devices, it will tend toward the self-destruction of million excesses and unbridled lusts.
That’s why we have will and intellect, consciousness, and the ability to make choices, so that we can direct the body toward what is good for it.
But that is not exactly how it works out in our practical, everyday lives, now is it?
Because the body has a voice. That body talks to us, screams at us, throws internal temper tantrums, and makes an unending lists of requests and demands. We have the ability to ignore this voice, but too often we do just exactly what it tells us to do.
First thing when you wake up in the morning, the body says, I’m still tired. So you slap the snooze button and go back to sleep.
Seven minutes later, the body says, I’m still tired! So you throw it in the shower, The body says, Too cold. Then Too hot. Then Let’s stay in here for five more minutes. When you get out of the shower. The body says. I’m wet. So you dry it. Then it says, I’m cold and naked. So you clothe it.
All too often, you do what the body tells you to do. The body says, if we are going to get through this day, I am going to need a nice big cup of black poison. So you go downstairs and get your coffee brewed hot and strong. The body takes a sip of that and says, Mmmmmmmm…..now we’re ready for life.
When you get to work, the body says, I don’t feel like working. Maybe we could just walk around and say hello to everybody. So you walk around catching up on the latest office gossip and politics. You pass the break room. And what’s in the break room? Yes, fifty-shades varies of doughnuts.
You think to yourself, I might have one of those doughnuts, but the body says, No you won’t. We’ll have four of those doughnuts, so you grab a handful of doughnuts and take them back to your desk. The body says, and while you’re at it, get me some more black poison.
You drink your coffee and eat your doughnuts, and before you know it, its noon.
The body cries out. Its lunchtime! You explain to the body that you are not hungry because you have been snacking all morning, but the body says, it doesn’t matter if you are hungry or not, its lunchtime. Lets go to lunch now.
You go to lunch and you eat more food than you should have eaten even if you hadn’t eaten in a month. When you get back to work the body says, Food coma! Food coma! You sit at your desk shuffling papers in a bit of a daze for a couple of minutes, and then the body says, if we are going to do anything this afternoon, you’d better make it light and easy. Maybe we could just sit her at the desk and fiddle around on the internet and pretend that we’re working.
Then all of a sudden, the body has an idea: give me some snacks and some more black poison.
You’re in a food coma. What do you need snacks for? You bravely question your body.
The body replies, Well, I can’t fall asleep while I’m eating, can I? You get some snacks and some more coffee, and this goes on though the afternoon.
At about 3pm…The body demands some more black poison, but of the cold variety now…whatever type of cola is available.
Before you know it, its time to go home. The body demands, get some snacks for the trip home.
You argue, we’re going home for dinner.
The body insists, we could get stuck in a traffic jam. We could die of starvation in that traffic jam!
So you get some snacks for the ride home, and when you get home, it’s not quite dinner time.
So, you plant yourself in your recliner chair in front of your 127-inch idiot box again with a 300-ounce bag of potato chips, just to relax and feed your brain some nonsense.
Then the body cries out, it’s dinnertime! You’re not hungry, but you got done arguing with the body about twelve hours earlier.
So you take yourself off to dinner, and the body says, We will have some of that and some of that and some of that and some more of that…..You eat more food than you should have eaten even if you weren’t going to eat for another month.
Then the body’s food’s food coma alert starts going off again, and the body says, lets go back that recliner and relax.
Half an hour later, the body says, I want some more black poison, but we’d better switch to decaf now because its getting late and I’m gonna want to go to bed soon. And while you’re at it, get me a nice big bowl of chocolate ice cream.
You get the decaf and the ice cream, the body devours that, and then the body says, lets go to bed. I’m exhausted.
You sauce the body off to bed.
You wake up the next morning to do the same routine from dawn to dusk.
The great Spanish mystic and monk, John of the Cross, wrote, “A bird, whether it is tied down by a thread or a chain, still cannot fly.” What’s tying you down?CLICK TO TWEET
DISCIPLINE MAKES US FREE. IT DONESN’T STIFLE US. IT LIBERATES US.
DISCIPLINE IS A CONTRACTION THAT PRODUCES AN EXPANSION.
The body has a voice for a reason: to alert us to hunger, thirst, heat, cold and danger.
BUT when we OVERINDULGE the body, this voice becomes the voice of craving rather than the voice of need.
The body is like money, a horrible master but an excellent servant. Here in American, we generally consider ourselves to be free. But we are not free when we overindulge. The great dictator of this century is not external but internal.
We do whatever we are told. With every passing day, people’s ability to control their appetites is rapidly diminishing, and this poses some serious threats to our health and happiness as individuals and as a society.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS, is that over time we can develop the ability to control out appetites.
We may have preferences and established habits, but they can be changed. Learning to direct our appetites at will is a powerful aspect of personal discipline and self-control.
Self-mastery is the only alternative to the enslavement self.
Of course there are other impulses such as to drink, drugs, to gamble, to shop, and all can be massively self-destructive. The real danger is that impulses and appetites can join together and quickly transform into compulsions and addictions.
With our appetites, and impulses running free, we are now live in a global community of addicts.
Most of us tell ourselves that we don’t have any of the big, serious addictions. For us it might be “just” cigarettes, diet soda, coffee. From time to time we wonder whether we are addicted to these things, but we usually are not short of excuses- and if we are, there I always a “ friend” there to slap us on the back and tells us that we think too much.
The great Spanish mystic and monk, John of the Cross, wrote, “A bird, whether it is tied down by a thread or a chain, still cannot fly.” What’s tying you down? What is it in your life that is stopping you from flying?
Let us make no mistake that humankind’s most noble state is freedom- not freedom from opposing political or religious thoughts and ideas but freedom to do what is good and right in the many and various situations that we face in the course of daily life.
Our heart never stop longing for this freedom.
A man who has diabetes and cannot stop eating candy is not free, a person who has been in and out of treatment for alcohol abuse but cannot stop drinking is not free. A women who cannot stop shopping for expensive clothes is not free. These are extreme cases to make the point, but most of us face more subtle expressions of this type of slavery.
Perhaps you are trying to lose weight but cannot stop snacking on junk food between meals even when you are not hungry. Maybe you don’t really need anything, but you cannot stop shopping.
Remember, whether a bird is tied down by a thread or by a chain, it still cannot fly.
What is master of your life?
What do you need to be liberated from?
So what can you do?
Sometime next Saturday afternoon, you are wandering around at home and your body says, I’m thirsty.
You head toward the refrigerator. On the way, your body starts to bark its demands. How about a soda? I want a soda! Get me soda!
Maybe you need to say, No soda today. In that one simple action of the mind and spirit, you assert dominance over your body and set yourself free. It is not going to kill your from not having that soda, and nobody else knows that it has happened, but you have made a choice for a better-version-of-yourself and you will feel the liberation.
As you walk away, you feel free as a bird.
The most compelling point for a life is discipline, character, virtue, integrity, and self-control is this: To the extent that you have these things you will be able to love and be loved, for to love is as if you could take your very self in your hands and give it to another person. But to give yourself in this way, you must first posses yourself.
Most people in relationship with others are making promises they cannot keep.
They are promising to give themselves in ways they are simply not able to, because they do not possess themselves.
They have no self-mystery and therefore they are not free.
To love, we must be free.
Only to the extent that we are able to wrench ourselves away from the slavery of temper, appetites, and impulses will we be able to love and be loved. This is why there is such a poverty of love and dynamic relationships in our culture, because for those addicted to instant gratification, a lasting relationship is an impossible dream.
The common denominator of all successful relationships is discipline.
It takes real discipline to be aware and responsive to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of another person.
The common denominator of successful exercise routines is discipline.
The common denominator of successful careers is discipline.
The common denominator of successful organizations is discipline.
And a large factor in that discipline is consistency.
Health, wealth, career, organizations, relationships, all require consistency if they are going to thrive for any lengths of time.
I like nice things and wonderful food and spontaneous living as much as the next person. I am not proposing that we give up all the wonderful pleasures of this world, just that we temper our approach to them so that we can more fully savor them as we taste and experience them.
It is time we sought freedom from the tyrants within that tie us up and tie us down, that stop us from flying.
“A bird, whether it is tied down by a thread or a chain, still cannot fly.” – John of the Cross
What’s tying you down?
What is it in your life that is stopping you from flying?
The world is full of 2 types of people:
1. Those that see opportunities and move swiftly to take advantage.
2. Those that see opportunities and sit around begging God for their lucky streak.
If you’re tired of the ups, downs, lack of improvement or CONFUSED about what you need to do in order to move forward in your health or fitness – talk to us or enjoy being # 2 ;)
Viktoriya and Oksana Gruzdyn are Nutritionists and Immunotherapy Researchers based in Detroit, MI. They specialize in helping people reverse autoimmune and other chronic illnesses by optimizing their immune function and cellular repair.