A big factor in practice for me has been reluctance to practice
For this, several things have been helpful:
* sitting even when you don't want to
. It helps to look at the mind as a patient mother soothing her child.
There's really no issue you can't handle, just have to stay calm and do what needs to be done for your child.
The tantrum won't last very long when you actually sit down and hold your reluctance with care.
You can have a sense of humor about it, "may this pitiful reluctant effort be of benefit to some being somewhere." You learn a lot about the mind and volition from not giving in to every little whim of desire like we normally do all day.
Over time, persisting during times like this, you start to feel meditation is worth it and start to look forward to it, whatever challenges there may be.
* "small mindfulness" whenever you remember, even if you're sitting on the toilet. One thought, one movement, one breath. These little moments truly build up momentum throughout your day. Modus Ponens' experience reflects my own
* doing prostrations before each session. Remembering the benefit even one drop of the teachings have had in my life already. It quickly dispels any "do it later" feeling. Taking refuge for me includes trusting the Three Jewels with my reluctance, my doubts. Hand them over to the Jewels. Trust the path to get you through it.
* gratitude for the sangha of people here and teachers and authors also helps. These people are doing the hard work and have helped us more than we can know. We can show our gratitude with 20 or 40 minutes of our time, to really try what they recommend
* remembrance of death throughout the day. "This may be my last chance to meditate. How will I spend it?" Really feel old age in your bones, the corpse sitting on the cushion. We still have this opportunity left, but time's a-wastin'.
* seeing it all as a great experiment. When having trouble, it helps to inject some playfulness. For example, instead of frustration, I try to think, "well I haven't managed to stay focused on the breath for very long today... what might I see if I do?" or "What IS it that the mind keeps doing anyway? Let's watch close and see what it's up to."
And nothing beats a sense of humor with yourself and your situation as your defilements inevitably bubble up.
It's like living in a house your whole life, then deciding to try to clean up a bit. You never know what you'll find, and some rooms will be very dusty.
"I don't remember buying those gaudy curtains! Wow!"
"I don't know what this pile of black stuff is but I better deal with it."
Believe me, the Buddha and countless teachers know exactly what it's like to be beset with monkey mind, unexpected sexual fantasies, ill will... That's why they can teach about it
There's nothing so bad or so "far gone" that nothing can be done.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html
"Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It is possible to abandon what is unskillful. If it were not possible to abandon what is unskillful, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.'
Also, reading authors or teachers that inspire you is helpful and can instill a sense of determination in your path.
I recently discovered Achaan Chah and his teachings.
He's excellent at giving you a kick in the arse to practice, riling you up to really get down to business.
Finally, this forum (and Dharma Wheel when I was over there) have been so valuable