Copyright 2012 Bast. All rights reserved.
I remember being on the tenth day of a juice fast… All of my senses were heightened. I no longer felt any hunger for food. I was in an exquisitely sattvic state; calm, clear, content, and more deeply attuned to all the life around me. Smelling a rose was a delicious feast beyond anything I’d ever eaten. I was deeply fed by simply breathing the ocean air; ionized, moist, and full of minerals. Sunshine permeated me to the core and nourished me through my eyes. Yoga asana practice was more blissful and effortless.
I felt such a rarified, luxurious state of being, yet people all around me were commenting on my “discipline.” It was my first impulse to giggle. I felt like a hedonist. “This is really all about pleasure,” I’d say. But not pleasure in a common sense, this was a kind of pleasure that arose from being more intimate with Source, Nature, the Divine… the great One has many names. When we purify our physical vessels skillfully and with loving intentions, we can be a even clearer channel for divine energy and awareness to pour through us. Yummm.
This word, “bliss-ipline,” immediately dissolves the falsely constructed duality between bliss and discipline. I must thank my dear friend, fellow yogini, and oracle extraordinaire, Michaelah Ivie, for channeling this word and sharing it. It conveys in one word a complete paradigm shift.
Many people believe that what is “good” for them must be austere, boring, or exhausting, and what is “bad” for them is decadent, fun, and exciting. In the world of a true yogic gourmet, with a refined palate for life and practice, this duality dissolves into laughter.
In more ascetic approaches to discipline, there is almost a militant effort that arises straight from logic, ego, fear, duty, or the expectation to be “good.” This type of approach to discipline will ultimately lead to a habit of self-criticism, a sense of failure, the rigidity of perfectionism, and burning out. It can be more goal-oriented than process oriented. There is a drive to dominate nature within and without, and to conquer, mold, or even punish the self. Falling off severe and idealized regiments can lead to the energetic “crash” and complete abandonment of our path or practice.
A practice rooted in bliss-ipline is one focused on the more refined, higher experiences of pleasure… for it is the most pure and superlative pleasure to be aligned with the Divine. Practice is a celebration of the Divine within, rather than a way to “fix” all that is wrong. We practice to bask in the marvelous light of enlightened energies and to revel fully in sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. And as my beautiful Swamiji explained, though it is important to honor our teacher’s instructions and do our best to practice correctly, it is far more important to practice with a sincerely devotional heart, rather than attempting to achieve so-called “perfection” in practice.
Having good bliss-ipline means to cultivate the refined awareness to know when to relax and be flexible. Bliss-ipline is not fiercely attached to being “unattached.” A bliss-iplined yogi can sense the auspicious time to put away the serious grown-up work and play with the human child bringing invitations for silly games and profound teachings.
Bliss-ipline is motivated by love and devotion, not by logic, ego, or fear. Logic and ego are wonderful servants, but terrible masters. All motivation must arise from the wisdom of the hridaya, the spiritual heart.
Bliss-ipline is not strictly motivated by the desire to commune with the Divine ourselves, but to become source of true service, spiritual inspiration, and delight to others. Once we taste what it is to truly serve another soul, there are few things in this worldly life that are more fun.
The approach of bliss-ipline in our regular practice is sustainable and creatively inspired. There is no “burn out.” There is no perfectionism or punishment the self. Bliss-ipline is process oriented rather than goal oriented. We may take on practice goals simply as an exciting landmark, but they do not rule our sense of self-worth nor do they take precedence over our soul’s delight of each moment. When we have good bliss-ipline, we strive to celebrate our essential nature, not to dominate it. There is a trust in our natural process for learning and growth via the grace of Shri, or auspiciousness and ripe sequence. The flowers of wisdom or jnana blossom when they are perfectly ready. Bliss-ipline is achieved through a sweet balance between effort and surrender, stability and freedom, sthiram and sukham respectively. It is a sweet effort.
Being in relationship with a great teacher who has personally tasted the nectar bliss-ipline can bless us with the deepest transmission of this principle. Walk with one who walks the path of celebrating the Divine through the body, and let the wisdom sink in like gentle rain.
Now practice… Place yourself on the mat, the zafu, the dance floor, the trail of the walking meditation. Take a moment to arrive into the spirit of bliss-ipline. Do not allow the ego to take the reins. Prepare the pathway of possibility for your deeper bliss. Tune in and revel.