7

I have the intuition, from what I've heard within Buddhism, that formal meditation is rarely ever "wrong", and provides benefit if even slight form is held.

Nevertheless, I am struggling to create a regular schedule. It has been years that I know of meditation, have investigated the techniques, and still I seem to avoid practising formally.

Despite contemplation and walking meditation, I fail to progress to a formal routine.

I wonder:

  1. Is there really any remedy to this types of procrastination and laziness? I feel it may be pointless to try and seek advice on this topic, that my capacity is absent despite my present desire.
  2. If they exist, what are the remedies to such a basic and pervasive laziness?

Perhaps I should specify that the reasons I often tell myself against meditating (or other things) are:

  1. Lack of obvious suffering.
  2. Lack of ultimate goal.
  3. Aversion to the effort.
3

If you don't have a pull factor (natural inclination), then you need a push factor. These are the two factors of motivation.

Suppose your doctor tells you that you have early stage of lung cancer. He tells you not to worry because it can be easily treated due to early detection, but you must give up smoking for good.

So, what do you do? Give up smoking of course. You tried before and failed, but now you have a push factor.

1

The goal of Buddhist practice and a true understanding of suffering are very distant concepts. They will hardly motivate you at this stage of the game. Your main problem is the last - aversion to effort. I have two answers to help you with that. First, sit with a group. Meditation is no different than exercise. It's all but impossible to get started on your own. If you do, you will most likely quit. Sitting with a group affords you an opportunity to sort of hand your will over to the room. The enthusiasm of others becomes your enthusiasm. The desire to practice becomes contagious. It also becomes ritualistic. Groups generally meet at appointed times and designated places. That act of attending any of these group sits gets your karmic momentum going in the right direction. Ultimately, it will spill over into your sits at home.

Which brings me to point number two. For beginners, you are not going to be able to sit for long periods by yourself. You will get bored and frustrated very quickly. You have to ease into it. Break your practice into increments. That doesn't mean starting with five minutes. It literally can begin with just lighting a stick of incense. After doing that for two weeks, maybe you just touch your butt to the cushion and stand back up. After a another two weeks, maybe you sit for a minute. Some days you will feel impelled to sit longer. Other days, the motivation just won't be there. Just make sure that whatever phase you're in, you commit to that simple act of effort.

1

Kusita-Arambhavatthu Sutta explains the grounds for the laziness and the arousal of Energy [AN 8:95].

As this Sutta says, there are 8 grounds for the laziness of a bhikkhu (monk).

  1. A bhikkhu has to do some work: ‘I have some work to do. While I’m working, my body will become tired. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.

  2. A bhikkhu has done some work: ‘I’ve done some work. Because of the work, my body has become tired. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.

  3. A bhikkhu has to make a trip: ‘I have to make a trip. While traveling, my body will become tired. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.
  4. A bhikkhu has made a trip: ‘I’ve made a trip. While traveling, my body has become tired. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.
  5. A bhikkhu has walked for alms in a village or town but has not gotten as much food as he needs, whether coarse or excellent: ‘I’ve walked for alms in the village or town but didn’t get as much food as I need, whether coarse or excellent. My body has become tired and unwieldy. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.
  6. A bhikkhu has walked for alms in a village or town and has gotten as much food as he needs, whether coarse or excellent: ‘I’ve walked for alms in the village or town and gotten as much food as I need, whether coarse or excellent. My body has become as heavy and unwieldy as a heap of wet beans. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.
  7. A bhikkhu is a little ill: ‘I’m a little ill. I need to lie down. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.
  8. A bhikkhu has recovered from illness. Soon after recovering: ‘I’ve recovered from an illness; I’ve just recovered from illness. My body is still weak and unwieldy. Let me lie down.’ He lies down.

Each time he lies down, but he does not arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.

And there are these eight grounds for the arousal of energy. They are listed below as follows;

  1. A bhikkhu has some work to do: ‘I have to do some work. While working, it won’t be easy for me to attend to the teaching of the Buddhas. Let me in advance arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’
  2. A bhikkhu has done some work: ‘I’ve done some work. While working, it wasn’t possible for me to attend to the teaching of the Buddhas. Let me arouse energy….’
  3. A bhikkhu has to make a trip.: ‘I have to make a trip. While traveling, it won’t be easy for me to attend to the teaching of the Buddhas. Let me in advance arouse energy….’
  4. A bhikkhu has made a trip: ‘I’ve made a trip. While traveling, it wasn’t possible for me to attend to the teaching of the Buddhas. Let me arouse energy….’
  5. A bhikkhu has walked for alms in a village or town but has not gotten as much food as he needs, whether coarse or excellent.: ‘I’ve walked for alms in a village or town but didn’t get as much food as I need, whether coarse or excellent. My body is light and wieldy. Let me arouse energy….’
  6. A bhikkhu has walked for alms in a village or town and has gotten as much food as he needs, whether coarse or excellent.: ‘I’ve walked for alms in the village or town and gotten as much food as I need, whether coarse or excellent. My body is strong and wieldy. Let me arouse energy….’
  7. A bhikkhu is a little ill.: ‘I’m a little ill. It's possible that my illness will grow worse. Let me in advance arouse energy….’
  8. A bhikkhu has recovered from illness. Soon after recovering.: ‘I’ve recovered from illness, just recovered from illness. It is possible that my illness will return. Let me in advance arouse energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’

Each time ee arouses energy for the attainment of the as-yet-unattained, for the achievement of the as-yet-unachieved, for the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth ground for arousing energy. "These are the eight grounds for arousing energy."

Although this Sutta mentions the word 'Bhikku', most of the grounds of laziness are common to any human, and also the arousal of Energy can be practiced by everyone to fight against the laziness.

  • The question then becomes, how do you "arouse energy"? – Erik May 11 at 6:21
-1

Unless you have grown up in a Buddhist culture (in which the profound value of meditation is taken for granted), you probably need a psychological understanding of how meditation is actually beneficial. Such an understanding, unfortunately, is hard to come by, simply because it is actually difficult to understand. Take for example how much difficulty the modern scientific community is having while trying to explain Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I have practiced mindfulness meditation for 50 years. I have written a book called How Mindfulness Meditation Works. It may help motivate you.

  • There is a huge portion of research done on MBSR, so your statement about the difficulties of the modern scientific community simply isn’t true. – Erik May 11 at 8:48
  • The research done on MBSR is indeed vast and valuable. Perhaps you could explain to us how this research has contributed to the Buddhist concept of sankhara. May you be well and happy. Sila Ananda (aka Ronald Cowen) – Ronald Cowen May 12 at 15:33
  • you should probably ask someone who makes that claim. I sure don’t. – Erik May 12 at 16:11

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