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I noticed that despite all my resolutions and intentions, I am still not much better than when I attempted to change. Therefore, I ask the following:

What could a person particularly lazy and unmotivated, who cannot stick with things long term, and who only has good intentions do in the short term to get out of their situation? I'm asking about any tiny step, initiative, or behavioural change that could help.

I tried exercise, meditation, dietary change, stopping social media, etc. but all, in the long term have failed.

Thank you.

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    May I ask if you have/had a teacher? My experience is that an inspiring, accomplished teacher is of great benefit on ones journey. – Lanka Oct 9 '17 at 23:14
  • Please also see "Appamada - What is it? How to practise it? Benefits?" – ruben2020 Oct 10 '17 at 12:27
  • @Lanka dumb question but where can one find a teacher? – NuWin Oct 13 '17 at 17:09
  • The thing you're trying to better, or to get out of: is it something quantifiable, measurable (for example, the amount of time spent meditating)? – ChrisW Oct 13 '17 at 18:06
  • Nuwin - where do you live exactly (country and town) ? – breath Oct 13 '17 at 19:46

10 Answers 10

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Two days ago, my person translated a possible benifical talk on this matter, which is actually nothing else as complacency, or pamada. ([Q&A] Appamāda - What is it? How to practise it? Benefits?)

So here are the traditional and required three tools:

Respect, Confidence & Patience

Is more than smart, to beginn with devotional practice and integrate it in daily live, for a practice without that will in all ways lead just to another complacency.

As the Buddha told even after awakening: "One suffers if dwelling without reverence or deference."... now think how poor and in suffering are those not awakened, not having proper means for devotion and act on it. All they could do and do is consuming, consuming signs, sounds, smells, tasts, touches, ideas... a poor consumers life like that of the most.

There is no much better practice as to simply assist and render help for ones teacher, and it's already a practice on the path. Veyyāvacca, only in German for now.

Usually one starts by his first Gods in doing so, one parents. And to give you as well as others the possibility to serve, having the Sangha and the other Gems as object, there are many ways to get joy and to spend ones time by working on ones conditions, even if maybe not capable for intensive meditation practice, here. There might be others as well, and if even have a monastery near, monks you could assist, take this oppotunity.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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As this is a personal practice question, I will give a personal answer. Not supported by theory, no references, just my own experience practicing Dharma for years.

Go after your heart's hidden desires, despite the strong fear, and use that as fuel for practice. Take risks, get in trouble, and watch yourself very carefully as you go along. You will learn a ton and move to a new place in your practice. Your actions will be motivated and energized. However, note the difference between pushing yourself to your limits using desire as motivation, vs indulging in easy pleasures. This must be very challenging for it to work.

Consider this Vajrayana skilful means.

Hope this helps.

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I suggest that a lack of discipline or motivation to practice mindfulness meditation can remedied by providing a psychological explanation of how mindfulness actually works. Such an explanation is necessarily complex because the mind happens to be extremely complex. Although an explanation can be provided in either Theravadin or Mahayana terminology, I will provide an explanation within the Theravadin tradition because it is entirely within the realm of relative truth in which an complete explanation is possible and acceptable. Within this tradition, the logical beginning of an explanation begins with the concept of sankhara. A sophisticated and useful translation of this Pali term is provided by the English term schema (as developed by Immanuel Kant), which is a mental disposition that is formed when experience is transformed (understood, interpreted into) into a belief. The resulting sankhara then becomes the cause of related perceptions, beliefs, wishes, motives, actions, and other experiences. In general, a very large system of sankhara is the cause of all intelligent behaviour, including wholesome, unwholesome, and functional actions and experiences. There are innate, developmental, educational, and traumatic sankhara. The innate and developmental sankhara cause those (mostly unconscious) cognitive processes that can be called Bodhicitta processes. Educational sankhara are those sankhara that we learn from other people. Traumatic sankhara are maladaptive (unwholesome) sankhara the result from the encounter with harmful circumstances. There are three problems with learning sankhara: (1) we make mistakes in learning, (2) the application of any sankhara requires adjustments, and (3) sankhara are never complete (except in trivial cases). Special safeguard processes have the function of avoiding, detecting, and correcting errors in learning and assist with the application of sankhara. One of the most fundamental safeguard sankharas is the psychological fact that (1) we cannot understand something unless it makes sense to us and (2) we cannot do something unless it makes sense to us. Since mindfulness meditation involves developing an objective, alert, and discerning state of mind, some unwholesome (illusory, false, invalid, poorly conceived) sankhara no longer make sense and thereby become subject to correction or modification. The process of correction is largely signless (animitta). Some sankhara are resolved only through the recollection of the experience that created a traumatic sankhara. This can be accomplished through a process called focusing, a form of self-therapy developed by Eugene Gendlin. By focusing on the "felt sense" (the body in the body), long forgotten experiences can be recalled and unwholesome sankhara can be unlearned. A third benefit of mindfulness meditation practice is a contact with the wisdom and love of the Bodhicitta (innate sankhara). Through this kind of contact, a person is able to perceive the evidence perceived by the Buddha that formed the basis of his wisdom and love. These are three ways in which mindfulness meditation actually works. In is based upon 50 years of experience. I am 76 years old and an ordained (novice) monk.

  • Thank you for that illuminating background background information. Can you, in addition, answer the OP's literal question: which was, "I'm asking about any tiny step, initiative, or behavioural change that could help"? Would the "tiny step" you're suggesting be to read your book (perhaps to help bypass the "safeguard process", whose result is avoiding meditation when you don't understand how it works)? – ChrisW Oct 16 '17 at 12:52
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    I was trying to be encouraging. The safeguard process is a first step available to even for those who take up MBSR and practice mindfulness meditation for only one half hour a day for ten weeks. It is a process that kicks in without effort. It always works because it is a natural part of the mind. A "tiny step" might consist of finding a teacher, a meditation group, or even a MBSR center that has good people that he finds encouraging or inspiring. – Ronald Cowen Oct 17 '17 at 13:47
  • Would upvote this five times if I could. – Andrei Volkov May 18 '18 at 15:43
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    @AndreiVolkov "Start a bounty / reward existing answer" is a bit like multiple upvotes. And editing the answer (e.g. even if only to improve its format) can help other people to appreciate it more, too. – ChrisW May 18 '18 at 16:11
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Constantly remind yourself of the natural characteristics of this world. That all conditioned things are subject to change, they're ephemeral, they cannot be controlled. Therefore are unable to bring satisfaction.

Remind yourself of why that is. What is the cause of this dissatisfaction? Clinging & craving, the desire to become/have or the desire for oneself/things to become extinct.

Observe the grasping, observe the clinging and the results of such. You will come to realize that this very clinging is burdensome, it is oppressive. Gradually you will become disenchanted with clinging, you will become dispassionate. You will learn to let go.

Clinging is like putting ones hands into the fire. With time you learn to abstain from clinging, not intellectually but through insight/wisdom.

Observe your breath whenever you can, even if just for one minute at a time. Recollect the mind into focus and learn to rest with things as they are. You should also learn the correct way to practice ''anapanasati''

If you're interested in reading materials, regarding ''anapanasati'' and ''letting go''. I highly recommend these books.

  • Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw
  • Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree: The Buddha's Teaching on Voidness, by Ajahn Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
  • Food for the heart, Collected teachings of Ajahn Chah
  • Hello Miso. How come you deleted this answer which were also upvoted? – Lanka Oct 13 '17 at 20:50
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I think the 'tiny step, initiative, or behavioural change that could help. ' is commitment in your case. If you are at the edge of quitting, commit yourself to whatever you are doing, instead of quitting.

Committing might mean to go deeper in some scenarious.

However, if things are not working out for you, then quitting surely is best. I myself went on a dietary and meditation regimen, however it made me feel better at least every week and continues to so. So it was working for me.

Did they work for you?

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Finding compassion. Instead of disagreeing with someone directly or developing a bad perception of them or a group, I look for their side first. Their motivation or the thing that they lack that has created their allegedly aberrant behavior or view. And I am talking about people or groups with some horrible actions or ideas.

Did the murderer grow up unloved or without support or a role model?

Did this callous person encounter similar insensitivity in their life?

Does that unlikeable group of persons have a basic need, like safety or security, at their origin that pulled them together?

By finding or theorizing the suffering that led to their view or act ... and remembering how similar suffering affected me in the past ... I can more effectively empathize for others and generate compassion no matter how opposed to them I might be. I can truly feel for them. And all it takes is a bit of thought.

Maybe it's just me but this made the biggest difference and transformation in my life after I sought refuge in the jewel. With this minor effort my life changed dramatically for the better.

I hope this helps. Namaste.

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You need to change your habits. Easier said than done but it can be done!

The next time you attempt something that requires a long term approach, "reward" yourself for doing it.

For example, if you are working on a project or have a goal of doing something daily, after you do them, "reward" yourself by putting an X on your calendar for that day. As you continue this process, you will realize that your calendar will be filled with Xs which will motivate you to get that next X and the next and so on. After a while, you will have developed a habit for it.

It is all mental but it works for me and it may for you. Best of luck.

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When trying to make a change like this (and in other habits) I have personally found that enlisting the aid of a 'buddy' has been helpful. The best would be to find someone else who is also trying to make the same changes but even just telling someone else who is meaningful in your life what you are trying to do and how you plan to go about it can work as well.

I have found it easy to slip out of the change mode and lie to myself about progress. But when another is involved, especially one who is meaningful to me, that external drive to not fail seems stronger.

Ask them to ask you regularly how you are doing on your change of practice. The drive to not admit to others that you slipped or made no progress can sometimes be the difference.

Also google 'habit change methods' and 'habit change buddy' to find a myriad of different helps on how to be more successful. As you read through the various methodologies presented, you are bound to find a few that resonate with you and which you can incorporate into your efforts. The internet can be a force for good after all if you use it right. Hope this helps, James

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What technique you practice ? do you have a teacher ?

Cause if you dont i would recommend it

In case you have a teacher and you practice in a correct way, than i can tell you what helps me now : which is that every action you do have an effect

(even if not every kamma has an effect)

so nothing was in vain and remembering that each action you do has an effect can help motivate you - for example if every action you did has an effect than failing and trying again and again even if never successful still has its point

see this question - especially the chat i had with Sankha Kulathantille :

What are the cases where a karma's fruit is destroyed?

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You are not the only person struggling with this issue. I, for that matter, have been raised this way and that was fault of my parents planting seeds of laziness and apathy into me. I was always served and didn't have to do too much in my life.

But so was Siddhartha, probably the most spoiled prince in the whole history of India.

Whenever there is an unwholesome seed, habit or recollection in our consciousness, there is also a way out of it. And that way is in the source itself that needs transformation. Deep rooted habits, especially transferred, acquired in our childhood are the most difficult to get rid off, but it is completely possible to do. It is just harder.

Be mindful of every bite when you eat without feeling hungry.

Be mindful when you bail out on something that you should do due to being lazy.

Be mindful of every action when you browse social media.

Mindful, meaning, keep in mind the Right view. Right view is the ultimate clarity and the way out, it gets sailor through the sea.

If you let the clarity of your mind shine light on those habits and illuminate these, it will eventually bring wisdom and change your habit.

That is non-violent way of dealing with things. That is the way of Buddha, Buddha that couldn't yield any result from starving himself in severe austerity or being violent towards his thoughts or desires, but by accepting things as they are, by feeling the craving and knowing that one is feeling craving.

The analogy of this is the guardian at the gates that lets every person in, closes the door and forgets about the guests, so the maids in the castle can do the rest, while the guard simply stays on a lookout for another newcomer. But no one should pass the guardian unnoticed.

protected by Lanka Oct 13 '17 at 1:16

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