Last night I went swimming. I looked like the tiger above. Since my shoulder has healed, I have been able to begin training for triathlons this summer and part of my workout regimen is swimming and looking like that tiger. I have begun working on alternate breathing with my freestyle. It is when you breath on both your left and right side. It can be disorienting when you first try, and you have to hold your breath longer. I'm at the point where all of my sets should be done with alternate breathing, but it is still hard.
Alternate breathing is like a spiritual discipline. It is possible, and doing it a couple times doesn't take much work. When alternate breathing becomes repetitive, it begin to wear on you. Usually half way through my sets, it will become tempting to begin breathing to one side. By the end of my sets, I have to focus extremely hard to just get my body to just do one lap of alternate breathing. Spiritual disciplines are similar.
When we first start, spiritual disciplines are not hard. They can in fact be pleasant. As time goes on, the wear and tear begins to set in. That's when it truly becomes a discipline. Like in a workout, you don't start breaking yourself down until the pain and tension starts. Similarly when we first begin a spiritual discipline, we are not truly in the act of discipline until it become uncomfortable. A discipline by its nature is something that we have to work toward because we naturally don't want to do it. We rather be in a state of comfort and ease. A discipline will get us out of that comfort zone so it can take time for what we intend to be a spiritual discipline to become a spiritual discipline.