Have you ever had a time when you felt unmotivated, study seemed like platitudes, doubts have shown up, and you are in the doldrums in your practice? You can become stale when life is comfortable, and there are no real problems on the horizon. True you might have aspects of your life you wish would change, but they aren’t anything that pressing, so you let them go. You know the practice works and you always have it if you need it. You have become complacent and before you realize it, your life and practice have become stagnant.
Since this seems to be a universal experience of everyone from time to time, I decided to ask some experienced 30-45 year practitioners what they have done to refresh their practice.
Negative Thoughts Are your Feedback: Chant About What is Blocking You
Trudy says. “I know I’m is in trouble when study doesn’t seem inspiring and I feel completely unmotivated. In the earlier years I listened to my negative thoughts. I was convinced they were true, and I let them influence me. Now I don’t listen anymore. I know that that negativity is my barometer, my feedback that I need to change something in my life. It tells me I need to mobilize myself, start break through prayer, then chant until I sees what the blockage is. I know that the blockage is always inside of me.”
Ken doesn’t listen to those thoughts or feelings either. He comments, “I don’t worry about how I feel anymore. I just do the basic practice. That refreshes me.”
Angie, had this to say. “I realized I was in my own way. I had cut myself off without even realizing it. I know that when I feel disconnected it isn’t anyone else, but comes from inside me. When I feel unmotivated I need to be in contact with other members who are energized.”
Ruth observed, “I realized I couldn’t always depend on other people. I had to have my own conviction. The way I’ve built that is through studying Buddhism. It helps me have a deeper understanding of what is going on in my life.”
Help Others Become Happy
Dick says, “I refresh my practice by addressing my mission to bring happiness to as many people as possible. While I chant, I visualize inwardly communicating with my mentor and ask what I can do towards that goal every morning. During my evening chant I imagine reporting back. Keeping myself accountable every day to do something, keeps me motivated. I also make sure I read something from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin everyday, even if it is short. I have found that when life is tough, those snippets come back and strengthen me.”
Nancy comments, ” I make a choice every morning to rededicate myself towards my mission of bringing happiness to others. During the first ten minutes of practice, I ask what I can do today, towards that end. That energizes and focuses me. All of the problems of daily life recede to the background, when I focus on the mission I was born for in this world. I also make a point of having at least a weekly connection with other members who are energized.”
Chant for Others: Explain Buddhism to Them
Jen says, “What refreshes me is starting someone in the practice. Explaining Buddhist concepts, and chanting about the person I am starting, really gets me going again.” Another way she refreshes herself is to take action to visit and help another person. She has found that when she encourages another person, she encourages herself.
John instructs students in technology in electricity, welding, sheet metal and machine maintenance. Some of what he teaches could result in injuries if he isn’t very careful and on top of his game. “I have on-going goals to have my classes go smoothly and to be alert so I can keep my students safe. These on-going goals keep me very engaged with the practice and motivated to have the clarity and confidence to be the best mentor I can be,” he says.
Another way to re-motivate yourself is to challenge yourself with a big goal and a drop dead date. If you determine you are going to accomplish it no matter what, it can bring you out of the doldrums quickly.
They Were Proactive
Each of these practitioners knew that their complacency and sense of disconnection was a problem that needed to be addressed, that it was a hindrance to their practice. Then they took proactive action to address it.
If unmotivated try one of the following steps to re-motivate yourself.
1. Chant to find what is blocking you.
2. Ignore negative thinking.
3. Be in contact with other practitioners who are energized.
4. Do something to encourage another person.
5. Explain a Buddhist concept to someone else.
6. Start someone new.
7. Ready or not, take on a big challenge.
8. Make a contribution to the group, a presentation for ex.
9. Remind yourself – feeling disconnected is one of the hindrances to Buddhist practice
Please share the way you have refreshed your practice. You will help someone else.