Ekunyi's Embers

PBP 2013 – D is for Discipline

I struggle with maintaining a sense of discipline in my practice. Picking a day to sit in shrine and sticking to it, constantly meeting the goals set forth by my gods. There’s no mystery to this problematic inability to establish a habit — I don’t make it a priority.

Spiritual time, in my head, feels like a luxury. It’s forced relaxation. I shower, purify, enjoy the feel of tension released at the heat of the water, the pleasant sense of the day’s work washed away, the scent of incense filling me with each breath, the comfort of candles’ glow.

Yet if I haven’t accomplished enough that day for work, if I haven’t met whatever (often unreasonable) scholastic goals I set for myself that day, I genuinely feel like I haven’t earned the pleasure of sitting in shrine, of being with my gods.

This, my friends, is really stupid.

For one, as I’m sure occurred to many (if not most) of you upon reading the above, it’s not just about me! We worship/walk with/study under gods. No matter what way you spin it, no matter which way the balance tilts, it’s a two-way relationship, built on trust, time, and effort.

And, as was pointed out to me this evening, I’m starting to reach the extreme where even purification is tainted by stress and to-do lists, creatures of the mundane. I was washing my mouth out with purified natron-water and Set just rumbles, What are you doing?

I paused, “Purification.”

No, what were you doing. It certainly was not pure.

And the truth of it? I had been thinking about the fact that I’d forgotten to provide extra comments for a student’s essay who’d requested the more detailed response. I then started to mentally berate myself. While I was swishing natron around in my mouth.

I acknowledged this, apologized, began to re-rinse my mouth… and promptly caught myself doing it again. This time making a to-do list in preparation for the meetings I have scheduled tomorrow afternoon. 

I genuinely struggled, the rest of the shower, to not think about work. Instead, I just tried to release those self-accusatory thoughts and shift myself into a more neutral state of mind.

Yet even once in shrine I realized: great job, self. It’s Sunday. You completely forgot to do something dedicated to Bast today as you’d promised.

I sang one of the songs I’d written, but my heart wasn’t in it. This was an afterthought. It was not the journeying She’s asked of me for months, it was not quality time with Sammi, it was not even a new creative work. This was not good enough.

And yet, I received no anger from Her or Set, despite how He had mildly expressed His discontent earlier in the rite. From Set, I was told only to recite my favorite prayer related to Him, to memorize it, to let the words become a mantra of calming and mental clarity when next my worries and self-accusations ran off with my thoughts again.

From Bast, I was shown the tree that I have been instructed to care for while I attempt to regain my skills at “seeing” while meditating. It sprang from where it was rooted my heart, up through my chest and out my head, branching off in countless different directions. She placed a massive black paw on the bark that I visualized filling my chest, and the outline of the tree flared golden-red as Her energy coursed up my chakras, clearing them, and leaving me feeling far more… alert and energized than I have in days.

I didn’t know what to say in the moment beyond thank you.

Looking back, a few hours later, I am beginning to wonder if my mental fog will be cleared by allowing myself to become as disciplined with the spiritual matters, both in shrine and in journey, as I have been with academia.

Balance. Always balance.


One Response to “PBP 2013 – D is for Discipline”

  • Wren:

    I completely understand where you are coming from. Academia has a tendency to creep into every area of your life until both your waking and sleeping hours are spent obsessing over it! I think it comes from the tendency to be passionate and diligent concerning what we study and any perfectionistic tendencies we have; they meld together to create a toxic soup of “negative self talk” if we aren’t careful. It can rip you away from hobbies, interests, friends, or family.

    I personally had to learn to prioritize. School was always first. In reality, work and school serve us–they improve our society and our selves, not the other way around. I come first–I need to love and respect myself enough to be critical of my performance but not critical of my self. I needed to remember my needs. I honor/serve the Netjer, and They in turn help me to realize my potential in all areas of my life. What good would an education/increased potential do me if I was left hollow or a half a person at the end of it? Life can sometimes pick up later down the road, so what better place to learn how to turn off “work mode” than while at a university, where stakes feel almost insurmountably high.

    I think the gods understand, so long as we try to remember them while we can. I had to learn not to make so many spiritual obligations. If I only have time for one formal rite and some informal stuff in a week, better to make these plans but be true to them then promise on goods I couldn’t deliver. (Also, never undervalue informal spiritual stuff: offering a bit of your lunch for Them, expressing your gratitude at natural beauties, being mindful). I also had to learn to maintain my habits no matter what. This is not to say you should let school/work slide. Rather, I think it means either better time management or taking time away from other activities (cut breakfast or bath time short, something like that). Our lives are fleet faster to Them than even to us. If you need to take care of business for a year or two, I have found there is a learning curve that They expect you to experience.
    Wren recently posted: A Reflection on Nature’s Cycles

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