Lessons in Mindfulness 1.9

Module 1 • Lesson 9 • Balance Through Discipline

Body, Mind, and Spirit

The study of martial arts is a path of personal
growth, encompassing body, mind and spirit.
The Lessons in Mindfulness program is designed
to support and supplement your physical practice,
to motivate you and inspire you on ever deeper levels.

Freedom is born of
self-discipline. The
undisciplined man is
a slave to his own
–Alan Valentine


Balance Through Discipline

External discipline
One of the greatest benefits of studying martial
arts is greater self-discipline and self-control. From birth,
discipline is a part of the human experience. Imposed on
us by caring parents and relatives, discipline teaches us to
make wise choices. Teachers, coaches, law enforcement
officials, and other authority figures soon add their
influence. External discipline is used frequently to obtain
compliance in the military, prisons, religious orders or any
regulated environment requiring specific behaviors. It can
be an effective method to control individuals, but when
the authority figure or consequence disappears, often we
realize that the behavior was just being controlled rather
than transformed, or repressed rather than rehabilitated.
Internal discipline
As we mature, we realize the importance of
self-imposed discipline or internal discipline. For example,
eating well and exercising usually maintains our health.
Building a successful career demands discipline of our time.
Financial success requires the discipline to save and invest
regularly. In our culture, certain holidays and rituals inspire
us to become more disciplined. Birthdays, our annual
reminder of the passing of time, can be an opportunity to
acknowledge what we have accomplished, as well as what
we have not. Without a doubt, the most popular time of the
year for assessing our lives and vowing change is January
1st. The beginning of a new year gives us a fresh slate for
new resolutions, and millions of people participate in this
annual ritual. But well over 90% of us give up on our
sincere and heartfelt visions within months. This confirms
the need for commitment, follow-through and good old
fashioned self-discipline.

Continuous action

Start investing the time and energy needed
to design the life you desire in great detail. Then take
continuous action on that design, never stopping until you
reach your goals. If you are thinking that this seems really
hard, you are right. However, everything in life is hard.
Being poor, sick or uneducated is difficult as well. You have
a choice: Take control of your life, making it satisfying and
rewarding, or allow circumstances and outside forces
to determine your future, and ultimately, your life.

We must all suffer
one of two things:
The pain of
discipline or the
pain of regret and
–E. James Rohn

Shift…don’t run

There is a saying, “Environment is stronger than
will.” This is a great truth, and as a student of the martial
arts, you belong to a powerful environment which demands
concentration, thrives on discipline, and pushes its
students toward immense mental and physical growth.
The challenge of such an intense pursuit is to keep
everything in balance. How does one build a career, enjoy
family and social life, maintain good health, achieve
financial stability and grow spiritually at the same time?
Think of a man on a tight wire, thirty feet above the
city. He never achieves absolute balance, but constantly
shifts from side to side to maintain his position. You must
continuously monitor your life, and adjust when necessary.
Determine the best places to invest your time, energy and
resources. If you run from one fire to the next all day,
you become exhausted and completely unsatisfied. By
disciplining your time, thoughts and behaviors, you feel
organized and productive.

Something in human nature causes us to start slacking
off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you
become successful, you will need a great deal of self-
discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility,
focus and commitment.–Unknown

Balance and passion
Discipline is simply
doing what you
ought to do, even
when you don’t
want to do it.

A question that many people struggle with is,
“How do I have balance and passion in my life at the same
time?” The question suggests that the pursuit of a great
passion requires total devotion of time and energy,
causing the rest of your life to suffer. A great martial artist
strives for balance and harmony in every aspect. Simplify
your life and spend your time rather than wasting time.
Learn to live in the moment and give your full attention to
the now. Design your life to be harmonious with your
deepest desires. When your time and energy move in the
exact same direction, there is a congruency…a synergy to
life. In short, discipline equals happiness.

Michael couldn’t believe today was his
thirtieth birthday. He could swear that just
yesterday he was twenty-five. Although he had
graduated from college and had a good job that showed
promise, he appeared to be going nowhere fast. He was
passed over time and time again for promotions. His work
was sloppy, he came in late, and sometimes forgot
meetings. His social life wasn’t much better. He only worked
out occasionally…just enough to remind him that he was
really out of shape. Sometimes he became frustrated, but
being an easy-going person, he didn’t make much effort to
change his bad habits.
That was until today. For some reason his thirtieth
birthday was hitting Michael hard. Rather than celebrating,
he found himself asking the hard questions. “Who am I?
What is my life about? What am I supposed to be doing?
What else is there?” He had always been spiritually
open-minded and interested in different faiths. But, he had
never really committed to any specific path of study.

Michael felt that he was standing at a crossroad. If he
continued on the same path, he feared his life would be a
bland existence. He decided to do something radical. He
would take a leave of absence from work and travel—not for
leisure, but to gain a better perspective on life and his place
in the world.
Over the next year, Michael traveled in Asia, visiting
different villages, doing odd jobs, sightseeing, and learning
about the local people. In a remote area of Japan, he
discovered an active Zen temple. He had explored many
temples on his travels, but this temple did not allow tourists to
enter their walls. He talked with some of the local people and
discovered that a handful of monks and three or four
layman lived and worked at the temple. All were under the
guidance of Hiroshi, a great Zen master. Michael wanted to
learn about their monastic life, so he arranged for an
appointment with Hiroshi.
During the meeting, the master’s calm presence was
intriguing. He listened carefully to Michael’s questions and
spoke with gentle authority and assurance. When the hour
ended, Michael felt compelled to spend more time with this
amazing man. He blurted out, “Could I possibly become a
student here?”
Surprised by the bluntness of his own question,
Michael was embarrassed. The master replied calmly,
“Michael, Zen is not a religion, it is a philosophy of life. Zen is
a way of being that is in harmony with nature and all religious
practices. This is not a quick and easy path. You appear
sincere in trying to make progress, so I will accept you as a
student under the following condition. For at least three
years, you must live and work within our walls as a monastic.
If you do not agree to this, I cannot help you.”

The more we
simplify our world,
the easier it is to

When balanced,
one is capable of
changing direction
at any time. To live
a balanced life, one
must be anchored
in that which is

Michael was surprised by the master’s acceptance
and also by the length of the commitment. Intuitively, he
knew that this opportunity could change his life forever. If he
rejected the offer, he would regret it for the rest of his life.
He took a deep breath and accepted the opportunity. The
master said, “Very good, we start tomorrow.” He bowed and
walked away, leaving Michael filled with excitement and
wondering what he had just done. The next day, the master
showed Michael where he would live, work, prepare his
meals, and perform daily chores.
After about a month, the master met with Michael.
“You seem to be settled in to our simple life. Now, your real
training begins.” The master took out a pen and paper,
writing as he spoke. “You will rise at 4:30 a.m. Zazen sitting
meditation is 5:00 a.m. We meet in the courtyard at 6:00
a.m. to practice martial arts for an hour. Breakfast is 7:00
a.m., and you begin your work at 8:00 a.m.
He handed Michael the paper and pen and said,
“In as much detail as possible, write down your perfect day
in fifteen minute increments. Repeat this for every day of
the week.” Michael took his time and carefully plotted out
his week. When he was finished, the master said, “Good,
this is your perfect week, day by day. Do not become
attached to it as you will never have a day that follows
this plan. The goal is to discipline and organize your life,
disregarding the interruptions, and getting back on track
as soon as possible. One of the keys to happiness is living
a simple disciplined life.”
For the next three years, Michael diligently
followed his plan. In the beginning, he was often frustrated
when the day did not go as planned. After some time, he
began judging success, not by how effectively he followed
his schedule, but rather how smoothly he returned to his
plan after interruptions. The time quickly passed and
Michael met with the master for the last time. Michael
began, “I would like to thank you for truly changing my life.
I am disciplined, focused and forever grateful.”

Hiroshi said, “Michael, you have been a good
student and have learned much in three years. I am
interested in knowing which lesson most profoundly
influenced you.
Michael did not hesitate, “One simple concept
affected me over and over in my training. It was, ‘Do not do
what you want, and then you may do what you like.’ In other
words, do not become a prisoner of your own desires and
habits. To remain free, seize and maintain control over
thoughts and actions at all times. We must be mindful of
the things we like, being careful not to become a slave to
them. When we become attached, we suffer when we
experience loss.”
The master said, “Very good, Michael. As you
return to your life outside these walls, remember that these
truths are just as important in the outside world. Design
your life, taking care to maintain your freedom. Do not
become a prisoner of your own desires.”
Do not judge success
by how effectively you
are able to execute
Plan A, but rather how
smoothly you are able
to move into Plan B.
Man can be self-disciplined without becoming fanatical,
he can be wise without waiting to be old; he can be
influential without waiting for status.

Discipline is the bridge
between goals and
–E. James Rohn

Mapping Your Needs
The activity for this month is to map your needs by using
this diagram. You will be rating eight categories, described
on page 12, that affect everyone in life. Copy the diagram
below on a separate piece of paper.

Circle of Balance
Friends & family
& charity
Health & fitness
Now take a hard look at your life today, and
honestly rate each category on a 1-10 scale. A rating
of 10 indicates that a part of your life is the best it can
be. A rating of 1 signals extreme problems. When you have
marked all categories, begin at the top and connect the dots
on each ‘spoke’ of the wheel. The final shape represents
your Circle of Balance:
Wide perfect circle…….A strong and balanced life.
Jagged shape…………..Specific areas need attention.
Small narrow circle…..You have balance, but all areas
could be improved.

The goal is to have the widest perfect circle possible,
thus showing balance and accomplishment in your life.
A jagged circle indicates need for improvement in specific areas:
Friends & family
To be balanced,
one must remain
in the center of
the Tao.
& charity
Health & fitness
A wide perfect circle indicates a strong and balanced life:
Friends & family
& charity
Health & fitness

A disciplined man is one
who keeps the promises
that he makes to himself.

It is important to examine the following categories
carefully, and then rate each as honestly as possible.
1. Friends and family– In this category the goal is to
measure the strength and depth of your relationships.
Consider both the quality and quantity. Relationships with
others help to give us joy in life.
2. Financial Freedom– Do you have sound investments
beyond your annual income from a job or business?
Could you maintain your current quality of life if you retired
or lost your job? Do you have the quality of life that you
want? How close are you to financial freedom?
3. Career– Are you happy with your chosen profession?
If your work or more specifically how you spend your life,
is merely a way to earn a paycheck, rate this section low.
This is an important area to improve. If you enjoy your work,
and it fulfills you, then rate your effectiveness on the job,
your contributions, and your current level on the path to
achieving all career goals. Keep in mind that you spend
most of each day in this category.
4. Continuing Education– Do you continue to learn and
improve in your chosen field? How often do you attend
workshops, conferences, and classes to keep current in
your areas of interest? Many people equate education
with formal institutions, and when they have completed
high school or college, they stop learning. One of the
keys to happiness is to remain a student, using all of the
resources at your disposal to continue the learning process
throughout life.

For every disciplined
effort, there is a
multiple reward.
E. James Rohn

Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your
thoughts. If you don’t control what you think,
you can’t control what you do.
–Napoleon Hill

5. Health and Fitness– Measure the following factors of
fitness. To score high in this category you must consider all
five factors.
A. Cardio-vascular conditioning: Are you getting a
good cardio workout several times a week?
B. Resistance training: Are you strengthening the
muscular system several times a week?
C. Flexibility: Do you regularly stretch your whole body
or do you mainly concentrate on a few muscle
groups like hamstrings and quadriceps?
D. Nutrition: How disciplined is your diet? How often
do you eat from the four most popular American food
groups: Frozen, canned, fast and delivered? Instead,
have you educated yourself instead on the
importance of fresh wholesome foods?
E. Meditation: Do you sit regularly, taking control over
your thoughts, feelings and emotions, helping you to
deal with stress, tension and day to day problems
and overall mental health?
6. Spirituality– When rating this category, think about your
relationship with God, the Divine, the Universe, or other
higher power recognized by your particular religion or belief
system. This rating should not measure the frequency with
which you perform rituals or traditions, but rather the depth
of your personal and intimate relationship with a higher
power on a day-to-day basis.
7. Community and Charity– How much time, money,
energy and other resources do you give in your community?
Take into consideration both the frequency and the amount.
8. General Attitude– Are you optimistic or pessimistic most
of the time? Would people describe you as positive and
upbeat, or rather grumpy or mopey?

Discipline is
remembering what
you want, and then
acting accordingly.
IMPORTANT: Simply completing this exercise and realizing
your needs for improvement are not enough. To begin real
change in your life, you must take action in the areas which
need attention.

Balance lies in
the ability to be
completely still.

Focus Point
Sit quietly in an upright position, and practice diaphragm
breathing 6-12 times. After exhaling, begin concentrating on
a specific spot located at eye level, about 3 or 4 feet in front
of you. Hold your attention on the point, and let go of all
other thoughts and feelings. During this technique, you can
entertain any thoughts that are directly related to the point
of focus. For example, the size of the spot, the shape and
texture, color, etc. Use any thought that will cause you to
concentrate deeper, but if the mind wanders to thoughts
that are unrelated, gently bring it back. The only thing that
matters is the point of concentration. Completely engross
yourself in it. Continue this technique for ten to fifteen

Eat when you’re
hungry. Drink when
you’re thirsty. Sleep
when you’re tired.
–Buddhist proverb

Key Points
• Choose a point of concentration that is easy to see. It
should be at least two inches in diameter. Concentrate
deeply on the spot and don’t let your mind wander.
• Try to practice this technique in a quiet area.
• When practicing this technique, hold your body completely
still. Do not move.
• Practice this technique when you are fully alert and able to
concentrate deeply. Do not attempt to practice when you
are tired and sleepy.
By practicing this technique often, you will:
• Improve your ability to keep the mind from wandering to
any thought other than your point of focus.
• Gain the strengthened ability to concentrate on a task,
job or project for longer periods of time.
• Gain greater creativity and productivity.

Recommended Reading
*Siddhartha- Hermann Hesse
*Gifts from Eykis- Wayne D. Dyer
Power vs. Force- David R. Hawkins, MD., Ph.D.
*Highly recommended

Do not do what you
want, and then you
may do what you like.
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines,
but it is to the one who endures that the final
victory comes.
–Gautama Buddha

Integrity is the
light that shines
from a disciplined
–James E. Faust