Intention & Discipline

During my sophomore year of college, all students received membership cards in their mailboxes for the Student Apathy Club. The note that came with the card instructed us to return it within two weeks or we would automatically become a member of the club. I have to admit I thought it was a clever idea and kept the card instead of returning it. A few weeks later the student who had originally sent the cards wrote an article in the campus newspaper declaring the Student Apathy Club the largest organization at the school. Evidently, very few students had bothered to return their cards. I am sure some people kept the cards for their novelty as I did, but most threw them away or ignored them. For the rest of the school year there were occasional notices in the student newspaper congratulating the Student Apathy Club whenever a campus event had an especially low turnout.

Though the Student Apathy Club was humorous, it illustrated the indifference many students felt towards campus events. I was reminded of this indifference after the presidential election in November 2000 when less than 65% of the eligible population voted. One poll reported that one in five of those who did not vote said they did not have the time. When one considers all the countries in the world where free elections do not exist and how hard many Americans such as the suffragettes and those who fought the Jim Crow laws worked to make voting possible for all, this is rather amazing. In light of what a privilege voting is, it is surprising that such a large percentage chooses not to vote.

Though politics can seem far removed from our daily lives, there are often things we know we should do for ourselves and for our families that we let slide. We hear and read almost daily about the benefits of a good diet and regular exercise but, as most of us know, this is hard to follow on a consistent basis. After the winter holidays, the gyms become overcrowded with new members who made resolutions to exercise regularly during the new year. After a month or two, the gyms settle back to their normal pace as peoples’ resolutions fade. I see the same trend in the winter session at HAYC as I talk with new students and students returning after a break of a few months.

Every day is a new day. The sun rose and set long before humans had calendars and though some believe that certain dates are more auspicious than others, the first of January is not the only date to begin anew. It is just a convenient marker. You can choose tomorrow to begin a change in your life; the trick is maintaining your dedication after the excitement of the initial few weeks.

There are thousands of books and videos about weight loss, exercise and making life changes. Different techniques appeal to different people, but a large part of creating a change is setting an intention and then having the discipline to follow through. Discipline can be seen as a harsh, strict word, but it also can be seen as a positive motivating force.

We have signs on the walls of our yoga rooms that say ‘Discipline is Remembering What You Want.’ By this definition, discipline can be the result of keeping our intention in mind when we begin to stray from our chosen path.

So, what is important to you? The first step is setting an intention. It may be to take an hour to vote so that your voice is heard, buying a few more vegetables on your next trip to the grocery store, climbing the steps when you normally would take the elevator, or setting time aside for a home yoga practice. It is all just remembering what you want.