The Eight Disciplines

In this article, I’d like to suggest a paradigm shift to associate the word Discipline to systems of practice. There are eight disciplines, in my opinion, that are distinct as this word is misused too often in the world today. It becomes synonymous with undesired work, consequences, and any negative association people can think of.

For many years, I’ve observed the different practices of discipline. Sometimes it’s misused as a form of punishment. Sometimes it’s left to be freely interpreted without guidance. Many other times, it’s used as a form of correction.

“The secret to discipline is a reliable system.”

Disciplines and Subdisciplines

In the classical martial arts question, “What discipline do you practice?” we find that the answer is a system of knowledge applied to a style of protection, philosophies, and lifestyle. Even doctors have their discipline like pediatrics, pharmaceuticals or general practice. These are all systems practiced purposefully and deliberately. Even the discipline of keeping your room clean have their areas and subareas.

Let’s say you make your bed at the same time everyday and in the same way each time. I would argue that this is a deliberately executed process to give purpose to all questions like who, what, when, where, why and how.

  • Who is this for? Me.
  • What is the discipline? Making my bed.
  • When do I do it? When I wake up.
  • Where is the discipline practiced? In my room
  • Why do I practice? To be clean and orderly.
  • How do I practice? Put the pillows here. Square up the bed coverings.

This is an example of a simple system to overlay on a deed that is easy to visualize. Also, each item can have a system associated with it that creates a subsystem that delves into smaller scales like the Russian nesting doll. As long as the top level system is known, then subsequent systems can be refined or simplified.

Let’s apply this to disciplining a child to make their bed. Dynamically we run through the questions as mentioned above as it is explained to the child. Therefore, applying emotional context would be extra whether it be for punishment or nurturing.

This would inevitably put a spotlight on the How questions. Majority of the time, its the How that is not known which leads to distress. The simple fix is to train with someone that can show you the way, coach you through it and ultimately give you freedom to make it your own.

What are the Eight Disciplines?

As a martial artist, I’ll suggest the martial arts answer first then suggest common subsystems that are beneficial, in my opinion, to everyone. I hope this initial list will inspire those interested to take a look at their systems and improve their discipline.

  • Mental Discipline: A system to purposefully making your mind grow or problem solve.
  • Physical Discipline: A system to purposefully utilize your body for growth or work.
  • Emotional Discipline: A system to purposefully practice esteem, care, empathy or restraint.
  • Hygiene Discipline: A system to purposefully keep the physical body clean.
  • Housekeeping Discipline: A system to deliberately practice of keeping your “house” in order. House is analogous to the physical house itself and the members of family or friends.
  • Nutrition Discipline: A system to purposefully practice diet for the mind, body and spirit.
  • Preparedness Discipline: A system to purposefully practice contingency.
  • Financial Discipline: A system to purposefully maintain the efficiency and balance of spending, saving, investing and giving.

Which of the Eight Disciplines Sticks Out to You?

This can vary depending on your current situations. Whichever it is, ensure to give appropriate attention to improving that system. I believe the freedom you are looking for will be found there.

Discipline equals freedom

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