Practicing while uninspired

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jackson
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Practicing while uninspired

Postby jackson » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:08 pm

Hey everyone, :smile:
I was wondering if anyone has any advice for keeping the intensity of the practice going in those times when there's no inspiration; I've found that every time my practice reaches a rough patch I begin to meditate less and less and indulge the senses more and more and I lose a good portion of the momentum I've gained. Anyway if anyone has any useful tips for staying the course I'd appreciate hearing them.
Thanks!
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

Hoo
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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Hoo » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:20 pm

Hi Jackson,

I have the same problem and look forward to how others have dealt with this. Being relatively new to Buddhism, I've found that being persistent in practice, inspired or not, sometimes gets me over the hump. But I"m far away from having licked this problem.

With Metta,

Hoo

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:23 pm

If I can make a suggestion Jackson I would not rely on momentum or inspiration too much. Attending retreats or hearing meditation teachers can be inspiring, as can books and Cd's to a lesser degree. However i think we should cultivate an attitude more like athletes or concert pianists and just do it whether we feel like it or not. In fact aversion to practice can be a very useful and productive object of awareness. Just note" aversion" and "restlessness" and return...
Something I find inspiring are some words by Artur Rubinstein the pianist, He said " if I miss a days practice I notice the difference, if I miss two days my family notices the difference. If I miss three days the public notices the difference. "
We are in this for the long haul...one day at a time what ever the weather...

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:38 pm

Sadhu! :goodpost:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:44 pm

Something to consder,
EVEYONE practices when they are inspired....the people who eventually quit practice when they are inspired as do the people who eventually do not quit.
THE most important time to practice is when uninspired as this is EXACTLY what seperates the "winners" from the "also ran's".
chownah

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Individual » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:08 pm

There will always be cyclical periods of mental prosperity and decline.

You can't, "Do what you don't want to do," at least not as I understand it. Want could mean tanha or intention. You can avoid tanha, but intention is always the basis for action. So, when you meditate, it is because you want to; it's your intention. When you don't meditate, you don't want to. You should ask yourself, "In that moment, WHY don't I want to meditate?" Maybe you have a good reason. If you aren't mindful and relaxed, meditation is a waste of time; your mind is trying to use the activity as a means of self-gratification, yet is unsatisfied and therefore seeks something else. For people who are asleep, they do not benefit from sitting down asleep instead of standing asleep. In the short-term, you get bored. In the long-term, you give the practice up. In the really, really long-term you might not even be a Buddhist anymore and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you have good intentions deep-down, though, it really doesn't matter what we say because in the long-term, things will work out. The periods of prosperity will become greater and the periods of decline will become less and less, until you don't need inspiration anymore.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Shonin » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:31 pm

What Sanghamitta said.

Don't practice because you really feel like it and not practice because you're not in the mood. Practice because it's 6am (or whatever). Make it part of your routine, like brushing your teeth.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:35 pm

That certainly what I have found Shonin....like the Nike ad says...just do it. And dont worry about how great it is or isnt. Or how you feel. just do it. One day it will take on its own momentum. Until then...just do it.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Ytrog » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:01 pm

Shonin wrote:What Sanghamitta said.

Don't practice because you really feel like it and not practice because you're not in the mood.


I fell in that trap before too and I found that making the lack of inspiration (or other hindrances) the object of my meditation actually makes me more equanimous.
It will not make you inspired, but you'll be able to persist better. I believe this is similar to the method that Sanghamitta mentioned.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Shonin » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:20 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:That certainly what I have found Shonin....like the Nike ad says...just do it. And dont worry about how great it is or isnt. Or how you feel. just do it. One day it will take on its own momentum. Until then...just do it.


Or as Master Yoda put it:
"Do or do not. There is no try."

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Individual » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:11 pm

Shonin wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:That certainly what I have found Shonin....like the Nike ad says...just do it. And dont worry about how great it is or isnt. Or how you feel. just do it. One day it will take on its own momentum. Until then...just do it.


Or as Master Yoda put it:
"Do or do not. There is no try."

But Yoda himself was not always a success at everything he wanted to do either.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:52 pm

What would constitute success or failure in this venture ? For a long time all we really need to do is turn up regularly. The model for practice we have been given actually realises itself... with effort and self discipline. Looking back there have been periods of my practice life when it has simply felt like an empty slog, but I can see that often those periods have actually been very fruitful .
A teacher can help. Someone able to be more objective than we can. The main thing thing is to start and continue. Every day.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby bodom » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:44 pm

Hi Jackson

I thought these two quotes might be of some inspiration to you as they are to me:

From Ajahn Thate...

Practice meditation the same way farmers grow rice. They're in no hurry. They scatter the seed, plow, harrow, plant the seedlings, step by step, without skipping any of the steps. Then they wait for the plants to grow. Even when they don't yet see the rice appearing, they're confident that the rice is sure to appear some day in the future. Once the rice appears, they're convinced that they're sure to reap results. They don't pull on the rice plants to make them come out with rice when they want it. Anyone who did that would end up with no results at all.


And from Bhikkhu Bodhi..

The only requirements for reaching the final goal are two: to start and to continue. If these requirements are met there is no doubt the goal will be attained. This is the Dhamma, the undeviating law.


With patience and perseverance, you will stay the course. :smile:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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cooran
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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby cooran » Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:32 pm

Hello Jackson,

I was at a Retreat with Patrick Kearney recently and the question of how to keep the practice going when we went home was raised.

Patrick mentioned a friend of his who had a Three Minute Practice Rule.

No matter what she felt like - when the I'll just miss it tonight, I'm so-o-o tired OR I'll really get back into sitting after the weekend break excuses arose, she told herself No ... I'll just sit for three minutes right now and then get up and go to bed (or whatever).
It worked everytime - because once you are sitting it just naturally gets longer.

And I've used it myself just this week, and it does work. :tongue:

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Ytrog » Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:58 pm

That's an idea cooran. :twothumbsup:
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:15 pm

I spent many years meditating only when I felt inspired to and made little progress. I encourage others to not make the same mistake. To learn to meditate regardless of one's present mood requires one to do exactly that. Once I began to view all meditation sessions as productive, especially those that were difficult, I eventually found the motivation to maintain regular practice. (Setting a schedule and stubbornly sticking to it also helps.)

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:32 am

jackson wrote:Hey everyone, :smile:
I was wondering if anyone has any advice for keeping the intensity of the practice going in those times when there's no inspiration; I've found that every time my practice reaches a rough patch I begin to meditate less and less and indulge the senses more and more and I lose a good portion of the momentum I've gained. Anyway if anyone has any useful tips for staying the course I'd appreciate hearing them.
Thanks!
Jackson


Sometimes there's no substitute for just sticking at it, even when it does feel like hard work - just do it anyway. It helps if you can develop some sort of routine, having a regular slot for practice, possibly adjusting your daily routine or being a bit less busy to make space for regular practice. Sometimes varying the kind of practice you're doing can be helpful.

Spiny

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Claes
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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby Claes » Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:13 pm

Individual wrote:There will always be cyclical periods of mental prosperity and decline.

You can't, "Do what you don't want to do," at least not as I understand it. Want could mean tanha or intention. You can avoid tanha, but intention is always the basis for action. So, when you meditate, it is because you want to; it's your intention. When you don't meditate, you don't want to. You should ask yourself, "In that moment, WHY don't I want to meditate?" Maybe you have a good reason. If you aren't mindful and relaxed, meditation is a waste of time; your mind is trying to use the activity as a means of self-gratification, yet is unsatisfied and therefore seeks something else. For people who are asleep, they do not benefit from sitting down asleep instead of standing asleep. In the short-term, you get bored. In the long-term, you give the practice up. In the really, really long-term you might not even be a Buddhist anymore and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you have good intentions deep-down, though, it really doesn't matter what we say because in the long-term, things will work out. The periods of prosperity will become greater and the periods of decline will become less and less, until you don't need inspiration anymore.

:goodpost:
" Through effort, attention, restraint and self-control,
the wise person can become and island no flood will overwhelm -Dhammapada

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Re: Practicing while uninspired

Postby jackson » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:10 pm

Thanks for your replies everyone, :smile:
I think that my post may have been somewhat misunderstood, I do meditate everyday and have missed very few days in the past few years, the reason I asked the question was because I went through a period this summer where things seemed very bleak, and although I was meditating an hour pretty much every day I'd often be opening my eyes and didn't make very much (if any) effort to calm the mind. My practice didn't backslide too much, but in hindsight it seems that had I made more effort I could have learned quite a bit more from my suffering at that time. So I guess my question is more like how do you make effort when uninspired, but I guess the answer's probably still the same as the ones you all provided.
Thanks again! :smile:
With metta,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah


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