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A recent answer on this site was as follows.

To make a strong commitment, you want to cultivate right effort by making a continuous effort, by hanging out with wise spiritual friends, by balancing energy with concentration and by not doing things that suck the energy out of you like reacting to your arising defilements, eating too much and getting lost in mental proliferation.

I would love an explanation, specifically, about the part in it which I highlighted in bold (i.e. about "sucking energy" and "reacting to defilements"). My questions include:

  • What are all the things that "suck our energy" ?
  • Why does reacting to defilements suck our energy ?

Everything else people want to add about this subject will be welcomed.

8

This is one of the things you learn from a live teacher, not usually found in books. Briefly, few of the main points I was taught, in no particular order:

  • ego - a lot of energy is spent on defending the self-image, rationalizing, finding excuses etc.
  • negative/pessimistic thinking - another major energy hog is thinking of the kind "things are wrong and are impossible to fix", excessive focusing on the issues and bad news.
  • masturbation and sexual activity - orgasm is traditionally considered a major point of energy loss.
  • non-spartan lifestyle - relaxing into one's weakness for sensuous comfort.
  • having no agenda - allowing other people, things, and circumstances drive you around.
  • inner conflict - blaming or judging oneself non-constructively.
  • doubt - anxious wavering back and forth.
  • not taking responsibility - organizing one's action around other people's approval and acceptance instead of taking ownership of one's choices.
  • alcohol - consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • low energy food - food that is spoiled, expired, frozen and reheated, over-processed, lifeless, and generally bad quality.
  • posture - an important factor of energy loss is a posture and gait that moves the body weight off the center of the feet and too much towards the toes or the heels.

I will add more points here if I remember any.

  • I've been trying to balance standing and sitting while at work since I'm in front of a computer all day, could you elaborate some more on the point of posture please :) – Ryan Sep 23 '15 at 14:27
  • why whenever i as about whether a lay person should avoid music be celibate ect i get a clear : "no, its only for monks" ? – breath Sep 23 '15 at 15:56
  • @breath I suppose because it would be stupid to give an advice to people who won't follow it anyway?, I mean most of the lay people can't be celibate, right? – Andrei Volkov Sep 23 '15 at 22:32
  • If i would think its beneficial than i would do it or at least try to do it - but every time this question comes up there are advanced practitioners who say a strict "no!" to people who ask is it beneficial to be celibate - at least those who arent monks – breath Sep 24 '15 at 0:50
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    I’d add outer conflict as well. Nothing like an ongoing feud or debate to suck the energy out of you. – Gotamist Dec 1 '17 at 14:34
2

Cultivating a mindful attitude to towards negative emotions has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety etc. in a variety of studies - Is Mindfulness Good Medicine? Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) have also shown great promise to alleviate anxiety and depression - Is cognitive-behavioral therapy more effective than other therapies? The CBT approach basically states that what we think we feel. So when you find yourself

... reacting to your arising defilements

You are using enormous amounts of unnecessary energy identifying with these emotions i.e. not being mindful. This is likely to lead to other negative emotions like depression which in its turn leads to negative thinking patterns which then cause more negative emotions. So in a very real sense you are falling into patterns that quite literally

... suck the energy out of you

The Buddha wisely recognized these truths that are now being verified in the laboratory. So this is very sage advice and I second it:

To make a strong commitment, you want to cultivate right effort by making a continuous effort, by hanging out with wise spiritual friends, by balancing energy with concentration and by not doing things that suck the energy out of you like reacting to your arising defilements, eating too much and getting lost in mental proliferation.

It may be of interest to note that in Buddhism the three main causes for all the other defilements are ignorance, attachment, and aversion which then lead to anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.

  • How to make a strong commitment ? – breath Sep 22 '15 at 20:39
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    Strong commitment, in my experience, needs strong motivation. Some find the Four Reflections good motivators. Daily affirmations of intention are also very useful to keep the momentum going. Saying out loud what you hope to accomplish in every practice focuses the mind. – Devindra Sep 23 '15 at 6:25

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