When first starting to chant, most people are excited and hopeful. This was what they were looking for, something to truly change their lives. Some people start with great enthusiasm. Then as the days and weeks pass, their initial excitement dies down. This is a description of a faith like fire. It burns brightly and then dies down.
If this is happening to you, you have encountered the first test of your practice, to develop the daily discipline of a consistent practice. If you look at your life, I suspect you will find that follow through comes up as an issue in other areas of your life. You are not alone. Follow through is a challenge which comes up for many people in many areas of life.
This is the turning point. When you make the determination to follow through no matter what, you have embarked on the steps of change that will lead you to Buddhahood.
Why is it Important to Be Consistent?
Consistency is the cornerstone which allows you to gain specific benefits from the practice and to build fortune in your life. You started to chant because you wanted to be able to change your life in some way. Do you remember what that was? If so, remind yourself on a daily basis that you want to achieve that desire. You can do it. But it does require that you chant every day for what you want.
Write down Your Goals
Take the time now to write down the things you want to have happen in your life. Perhaps there are family concerns or something you want to achieve at work, maybe something in a relationship, maybe something personal. Write down as many things as you can think of. If you want some ideas, get my new workbook, Steppingstones: A Guide to Buddhist Practice.
Compare The Day When you Chant to the Day You Don’t
Look back at the days when you chanted and the days when you didn’t. What were the differences? People tell me that when they chanted, their day went so much more smoothly: they felt much more focused and stronger. What were the differences for you? Write them down so you won’t forget them on days when you are tempted not to chant.
Set a Goal
Now, take one of the concerns you’ve written down and think of a positive goal, the way you’d like to see the solution work out. For example, let’s say you have been worried about losing your house. Chant for a stable comfortable income.
Write down your goals so you have something to refer to every day. Keeping them in front of you will help motivate you to chant. You can have as many goals as you want. It is up to you.
Find a Supportive Friend
If you are still having a problem being consistent, I would find a buddy at one of the meetings, someone you can call and tell them you have chanted that day. A friend, or the person who introduced you might do this. Having a buddy to help with accountability can make all the difference in establishing a new behavior.
Establishing a new chanting habit is the most difficult at the beginning. That is when it feels strange and is not yet comfortable. But if you persist, before long it will feel strange unless you chant.
Your goal is to develop a faith that flows like running water, which flows consistently on over and round obstacles in the path. One where you can’t imagine missing your chanting time, the most important part of your day. A faith like running water becomes the wellspring of your life and your source of power as you take one step after another, overcoming personal limitations and obstacles and walking the path to unshakeable happiness.