There are many that would balk at the notion of spiritual discipline as discipline in itself has almost become a bad word in todays society. We talk about disciplining our children as a bad thing (especially in the Scandinavian countries) as we equate discipline with violence or physical force.
Other will embrace the idea of spiritual disciplines but limit the concept to prayer, bible reading and in some cases fasting. For others spiritual discipline is daily meditation and yoga.
On some level we all know and acknowledge that to gain mastery of anything we need disciplined training or study. We go through school (many of us reluctantly at first) and go through higher education to gain a degree of mastery in one subject or many. We toil at different instruments to attain mastery in playing music. Many of my geek friends do a lot of grinding in their online games to attain higher levels/fame or mastery in a virtual existence. All of this requires self discipline, goal-focus and at times hard work. Yes, there is enjoyment and satisfaction in there to, when you reach a certain level, you manage to play that hard piece of music flawlessly, when you get your degree etc.
For me, being in a relationship is in itself a discipline it requires commitment, goal focus, hard work and it does of course have it’s own rewards and sweet moments. But more than that I also see being in a relationship as a spiritual discipline. As a relationship, any relationship will confront me with a reflection and give me reference points to how far I have come, what I still have to work on, what I desire and what I am still denying or suppressing within myself.
Whether you are walking the sacred path of celibacy (a relationship with yourself) or monogamy (a relationship with one other) or polyamory (a relationship with many others) you are, if you choose to walk the path consciously, on a spiritual path of growth. Growing from a position of misalignment (or dis-ease) to a place of alignment and ease.
Being in a conscious relationship is a path of constant transformation as you create a container where not only is your shadow and repressed self being reflected back at you but it can also be a safe and loving space to allow these parts of yourself to come out. The thing is though, transformation is often painful. Many still live in the old-paradigm of “happily ever after” that tells us that a relationship should be trouble free and harmonious. Especially if we consider ourselves on a spiritual path of some kind and believe that we are better than those who are stuck in constant conflict and ego struggles. A sacred, spiritual, conscious relationship is often anything and everything but calm and harmonious. Because the more conscious we get the better we see the misalignment between who we are and where we aim to be.
And to be honest, prayer is my relationship to source, the bible is a sacred text that teaches me how to live in relation to source, to others and to myself, meditation is meeting source within, yoga is my relationship to my energetic and physical body. For me the spiritual discipline is to acknowledge every living being as my teacher, acknowledge that authentic, conscious relationships are my church and through this interdependent interconnectedness we all grow and move towards greater alignment with the source of all things the source of love.