‘Discipline’ sounds like making ourselves do something we’re not going to like. If we liked it, we wouldn’t need discipline. It’s a word that has some should in it. With related tones of harshness and negative consequences.
‘Precision’ achieves the same effect as discipline.
For example, if I’m trying to meditate for a total of an hour per day, precision gets me there just as well as discipline.
Precision can feel artistic or sophisticated. It requires attention. It can be the result of flow. Sometimes precision comes from stillness rather than impulse. Using just the right amount and kind of power, not just pushing harder.
Precision has many mental qualities in common with mindfulness. Precision can be kind without compromise.
Even after years of practice, I needed to be reminded of this.
I was on a course and a teacher was doing a guided meditation. My meditation felt heavy and oppressive. I was noticing my ongoing symptoms of brain fog, and feeling quite frustrated that it was there again, changing how my practice felt. I started pushing against the experience rather than settling into the meditation.
Then the teacher reminded us that the intention is to notice what’s happening.
This non-fixing is what Mark Williams calls the being mode, as opposed to the doing mode. We can notice when we are getting caught up, trying to make things different.
Doing mode is one in which we try to close the gap between the way things are and the way we think they should be. We respond to what we hear as a call to action – and it can make us feel worse.
“Another mode of mind is required when it comes to dealing with unhappiness. Evolution has bequeathed us with an alternative to critical thinking. … It is called awareness.”
Mark Williams, The Mindful Way Through Depression. Audiobook.➹
Job Kabat-Zinn➹ gives us a definition of what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness for Beginners. Sounds True. Hardback Edition.➹
Thich Nhat-Hanh’s➹ is more a definition of what it feels like.
Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh. Happiness. Parallax Press. Kindle Edition.➹