Many a times we feel less motivated to meditate. We have heard encouragements from friends – “just do it”, say positive affirmations “I can do it,” discuss about procrastination and even use a calendar to schedule Buddhist meditation.
Is it enough? No, we still fail to stay motivated. Perhaps, we need to ask a deeper question – what would motivate me personally? What could truly help me in motivating myself? Where can we get support and inspiration?
In this article, I would like to share 5 ways to stay motivated in your Buddhist practice. You can choose one that best suited for you.
Let’s look at each individually.
- Finding a Buddhist Teacher, Monk – a traditional path:In our society we always look for experts, teachers and practitioners to follow. A Buddhist monk or teacher could give you the support and inspiration in your meditation practice.You could also take one-day retreats or 10-day retreats with them toreboot your meditation practice. You can search for a local Buddhist temple and monk using Buddha.net worldwide directory.Finding a Buddhist monk or teacher is good to be inspired and get guidance. Being devotional is not enough and you still need to meditate diligently and patiently. They are there simply to point the way. You are doing the job.
- Having a Contemplative or Analytical ApproachIt is possible you feel that you find that a simple retreat is not enough. Your mind flooded with a lot of questions and is looking for an intellectual understanding of the Buddhist path.There are plenty of good sources online: Pali Canons (Theravada), Zen Masters and Tibetan Monks. You might also want to read the adaptation of Buddhism by the Western Buddhist monks and books by Buddhist Monks and their interpretations of the scriptures.It is important to remember that reading the scriptures and explanations and listening to Buddhist discourses are just a starting point. Realization of Buddhist teachings through Buddhist meditation is most important. Rule: 20 % – intellectual understanding and 80 % Buddhist meditation practice
- Joining a Group Meditation (Sangha – Buddhist community)Perhaps you have met different Buddhist teachers and have done meditation retreats and have decided to follow one particular Buddhist tradition. You might no longer need to read a book or see a Buddhist teacher.You could join a local meditation group that practices the same meditation techniques. Meditating with others would inspire you to continue your meditation practice.If there is no a local group, then organize one through the meetup.com. You would be surprised how many people in your area would be interested in a group meditation.
You might want to start with a group meditation and slowly renew your daily meditation at home. Be mindful of any excuses that might block joining the group meditation. Alternatively you could organize a weekly meditation at your home.
- Finding a faith in the Buddhist teachingsFrom the very beginning Buddha said to his followers and reminded again upon his deathbed, you need to have faith in 3 jewels – the Buddha (Awakening – not a person), the Dhamma (the teachings) and the Sangha (the Buddhist community) and you will be liberated in this lifetime.Perhaps a simple reminder of all Buddhas (enlightened beings) and the 3 jewels might be sufficient to stay motivated and continue your Buddhist meditation practice.Please note that in the Buddhist teachings, there is no faith in God or supernatural, but internal faith in the 3 jewels. It is this knowledge that might allow you to stay motivated and to continue on your path towards Buddhist enlightenment.
- Finding practical reasons: – health benefits, mental concentration, serenity and equanimityIt is possible that you are not ready to follow any particular Buddhist tradition. You want to simply be a scientist who wants to test the teachings and do meditation and accept only what you have experienced.Buddha always reminded his followers to accept only what they experienced to be true.
While your achieve some health benefits, I would encourage you to continue your scientific research of mind/body phenomena and its application to everyday life. Buddhist meditation is a tool to dig deeper into human nature and understanding the interdependence of all beings.
I wish you the best in your continued Buddhist meditation practice.