The mid-point of the 40-Day Meditation Challenge (and my corresponding ‘dry’ spell) was Sunday and with it I felt a dip in my commitment. Not to completing the remaining days of sat kryia or going without alcohol, but to exercising willpower in other areas of my life.
I’d chewed my fingernails down to nubs, lost focus in my personal yoga practice, given up any pretense of resisting low-quality chocolate, and settled into a couch potato groove. My rationale was that my willpower was wrung out after letting the wine glasses stay on the shelves night after night and holding my arms above my head for 11 minutes each day.
But is willpower finite?
Psychology Today has a blog devoted entirely to the science of willpower, which explores all kinds of theories and research about self-control. An article on The Great Willpower Debate sums up the question like this:
Is willpower like a muscle that can only do so many biceps curls before it wears out or is it a powerful mental idea that can give you almost unlimited energy ?
I’ve elected to believe in limitless willpower and throw out the excuse that my self-control is exhausted. The Great Willpower Debate concludes with the idea that meaningfulness is an important part of motivation. If we can answer why we want to exercise willpower and make a change in a compelling way, we’re more likely to be able to tap into our self-control.
Being healthy (e.g. practicing yoga and not eating crap!) is important to me, so I’ll file the remaining rough edges of my fingernails, get onto my yoga mat, eat food I really enjoy (rather than whatever’s around), turn off the TV more often… and do 16 more days of sat kryia. And on February 12 I’ll see if I’ve revised my opinion on whether willpower can be exhausted!