I’ve been on both sides of the discipline debate when it comes to meditation. I started off with demanding teachers who insisted on daily practice of at least one hour, preferably, at the same time and place, and on a certain kind of cushion. Being much younger and physically more flexible, this worked. After all, I wasn’t particularly disciplined in other areas, this could only be good for me.

But over time, I began to see that despite all the techniques and rules I had mastered, I wasn’t leading a significantly more disciplined or orderly life. So I eased up a bit, and began to go for the joy, not the pain. If I didn’t really enjoy meditation, what was the point? I shifted from my hold on discipline to a grasp at grace. I began to experience freedom in a little bit of structure. Where, when and for how long were the variables in my practice, but just committing to meditating every day gave me enough structure, and positive reinforcement, to keep going.

And that’s when I noticed a shift. My days got better. The same things still  annoyed me, but I had created a context of watchfulness. I could watch that annoying situation without allowing it to hijack or ruin my day. I was grateful for those early teachers and solid structures. Create your structure and grace will pour in. Contain your self and see for yourself:

1. Clear a space for a comfortable meditation. Close your eyes. Breathe in fully through the nose, and breathe out a beat or two longer through the nose or mouth. Repeat for several rounds.

2. Experience your “inner self” being held in a precious container. You may first have to filter out the “mud” that clogs this container before filling it with the pure essence of your being. Or, visualize this container holding the bigness of your spirit, clarity of your mind, and vibrancy of your body. 

3. After meditation, remind yourself to keep the container. A container for grace has a long “self” life.