Obstacles & Roadblocks

What keeps you from practicing?


As practitioners, we're all familiar with the obstacles that arise during our practice—the "five hindrances" of desire, aversion, laziness, restlessness, and doubt are traditionally the most common roadblocks. But what, specifically, are the things that keep you away from your practice? Is it some manifestation of those pesky hindrances? Or is it something else, such as a lack of time, self-discipline, or a proper space? In this discussion we'd like to explore obstacles to practice. And then, ultimately, we’d like to hear how you are working to overcome these obstacles. After all, we all get stuck. How do you get unstuck?

Image: Liu Bolin

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summit12's picture

For many years I had a very regular practice. I attended a number of meditation retreats, usually at least one 7 day, give or take, retreats a year. I attended the sangha regularly. I feel that it changed my life for the better, over the years my attitude changed towards most religions, except buddhism. Seeing all the crazy things people do in the name of "their" god has scared me away from and made me lose faith in the abrahamic religions. (born a strict catholic) I believe its dangerous to follow many of the teachings with blind faith. That was one of the things that drew me to buddhism, be a lamp upon yourself. But a couple of years ago I gave in to my distaste for dogma. I have never been comfortable with all the rites in most schools of buddhism., the prostrating to teachers, one sangha made such a big deal of visiting teachers they met them at the curb of the residence where they were staying,everyone dressed in quasi-asian dress and made a formal procession while the teacher walked to the house. This was in an affluent neighborhood here. It just seems to be too much and not something that the buddha would approve of in my mind.also the acknowledgement of deities, the belief that the buddha performed miracles, I could go on for a while. Any kind of dogmatic action that took place just slowly turned my mind. I left that sangha and attended a zen temple that I really liked with a wonderful teacher, but even there the ritual side of the religion seems to rub me wrong. I finally just stopped going and I quit my practice. There is a part of me that misses the practice as I know it was very beneficial. Many of the teachings I learned have helped me tremendously to this day. I understand that there is a reason for all the ritual and the seeming worship in some sanghas but it still seems dogmatic to me. I plan on sitting with my old teacher at the zen center and having a heart to heart. Something seems to be calling me back. Any thoughts? Sincerely s12

Dominic Gomez's picture

The goal of Buddhism is the internal, indestructible happiness of each individual whatever happens in his or her life. This happiness is the life-condition of Buddhahood, and is innate in all human beings. The practice of Buddhism allows people to tap into and further strengthen this life-condition.
Of course, there are many systems and methods to do this, as is evident in the many schools of thought on the matter. (I practice the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as a member of the Nichiren Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai International.)
That said, it's important to keep in mind that your happiness (i.e. your enlightenment) is your responsibility. No person or thing outside your own life can give it to you. And the practice of Buddhism is a daily, life-long effort. A process, if you will, of regularly polishing your life so that your Buddhahood can become clear as a mirror, reflecting every aspect of your life for you to see.

Dominic Gomez's picture

The goal of Buddhism is the internal, indestructible happiness of each individual whatever happens in his or her life. This happiness is the life-condition of Buddhahood, and is innate in all human beings. The practice of Buddhism allows people to tap into and further strengthen this life-condition.
Of course, there are many systems and methods to do this, as is evident in the many schools of thought on the matter. (I practice the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as a member of the Nichiren Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai International.)
That said, it's important to keep in mind that your happiness (i.e. your enlightenment) is your responsibility. No person or thing outside your own life can give it to you. And the practice of Buddhism is a daily, life-long effort. A process, if you will, of regularly polishing your life so that your Buddhahood can become clear as a mirror, reflecting every aspect of your life for you to see.

celticpassage's picture

The goal of Buddhism is not happiness, since happiness is not enlightenment.

Happiness is dualistic. It has an opposite.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Of course happiness has its opposite. Such is non-dualism. And the choice is ever yours. Such is enlightenment.

celticpassage's picture

Glad to see you agree that happiness is not the goal of Buddhism

Dominic Gomez's picture

What else can enlightenment be, Celtic Passage?

celticpassage's picture

I think it might help discussions if you try to be more clear and consice rather than use ambiguous statements such as "Of course happiness has its opposite. Such is non-dualism. And the choice is ever yours. Such is enlightenment." To my clear and unambiguous statement that 'happiness is not the goal of Buddhism', which is followed by by a straightforward reason for my saying this.

So, again, happiness has an opposite.
This means happiness is dualistic by nature and cannot be the goal of Buddhism, if one takes the goal of Buddhism to be 'enlightenment' (which I would think that most people consider to be living in a non-dualistic view of the world).

So, now. To contribute to the discussion you must address why happiness is not dualistic, or why this dualistic state might be the goal of Buddhism.

Preferably, in your own clear words and not 'wise' sayings which I think you tend to respond with in discussions.

Perhaps it is an inherent danger when discussing ancient eastern approaches to life that people have this tendency to think that they must respond with sayings of 'inscrutable' wisdom, but I don't think that that is very helpful.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Happiness is not being spiritually defeated no matter what happens in life. Are you happy, Celtic Passage?

celticpassage's picture

Unfortunately, your response clarifies nothing and shows little inclination to thought on your part.

The definition of happiness is not what's at issue, and of course 'spiritually defeated' is a meaningless phrase.

On the bright side I suppose, it seems you are a fount of slogans.

Dominic Gomez's picture

As you are free to opine, Celtic Passage. Actually, Buddhism (aka life) is a lot more direct than you would like to lead yourself to believe. What is it that you desire of your life, m'friend?

celticpassage's picture

Well actually Buddhism isn't life, it's a religion; and enlightenment really doesn't have anything to do with Buddhism specifically.

I find it surprising that self-proclaimed Buddhists such as yourself, seem to have fundamental misconceptions about Buddhism and enlightenment even after years of presumably studying Buddhism and meditative practice which also seems to have left your egoic structure as complete and as entrenched as any non-practitioner.

I find it doesn't speak well of Buddhism.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Shakyamuni initiated his search for meaning to life in response to birth, aging, illness and death, its four inescapable aspects. His enlightenment is a culmination of this search. In that (original) sense the practice of Buddhism is not just religious, it is your life itself and how you carry on with it.
Regarding the egoic structure, isn't your online identitfier "Celtic Passage" what you use to point your structure out for the rest of us to see?

celticpassage's picture

Tracing the orgin of Buddhism isn't the same as Buddhism. This is an error in thinking and would be akin to saying since the birth of Astronomy was within Astrology, that Astronomy and Astrology are the same thing; which of course they are not.

Besides that, what Shakyamuni did was what Shakyamuni did.
He was not a Buddhist.

The original point still remains, that happines is not the goal of Buddhism and it certainly isn't enlightenment.

As well, Buddhism is not life by any stretch of the imaginiation. It is simply a religion (one among many). And most certainly enlightenment has nothing to do with Buddhism in particular.

Dominic Gomez's picture

As you are free to believe, Celtic Passage.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Shakyamuni initiated his search for meaning to life in response to birth, aging, illness and death, life's four inescapable aspects. His enlightenment is a culmination of this search. In that (original) sense the practice of Buddhism is not only religious, it IS your life itself and how you carry on with it.
Regarding the egoic structure, isn't your on-line identitfier "Celtic Passage" what you use to point your structure out for the rest of us to see?

celticpassage's picture

This type of thing is what happens when people toss around terms loosely. They often think they are getting at deeper truths which other people don't see, but the reality is just that they are imprecise or are truly confused. One example being to equate enlightenment and happiness.

So, no, Buddhism is not life, it is simply one religion among many that appeals to some people and is considered a waste of a life by others.

Only life is life; it existed before Buddhism and is separate from Buddhism.

Dominic Gomez's picture

As you are free to opine, Celtic Passage. Thank you for your time in this discussion.

celticpassage's picture

Well, unfortunately, I haven't found it much of a discussion. More like a monolog from me.

It reminds me of times I have talked with literally-minded Christians who cannot question what they 'know' to be true, cannot offer any real reasons for their statements, cannot think that they may not have been correct or that they may have made a mistake, cannot believe that they can learn from others, and more or less keep repeating the same statements.

With regard to your use of opine and belief. You may want to note that all beliefs are not created equal. Statements supported by rational reasons are not just unsubstantiated opinion (mere opinion) but can at least start to make a claim on knowledge. One example being: If life existed before Buddhism, they cannot be the same thing.

Being Buddhist or Christian etc., needn't mean that one stops thinking deeply about things. Deep thought is not antithetical to Christianity, or Buddhism, or 'enlightenment'. Being 'enlightened' doesn't mean that one's mind must shut down.

Dominic Gomez's picture

For the benefit of our valued readers, what do you believe "enlightenment" to be, Celtic Passage?

celticpassage's picture

What is enlightenment? Hmmmm.
Well, I would have to say it’s impossible to say what enlightenment is.

But that won’t stop me making some obvious comments about it…Lol.

I would say that enlightenment is something like: The universal spirit’s acknowledgement of itself through the mind/body complex of an individual.

Of course this statement is wrong since enlightenment isn’t a thing and neither is ‘the universal spirit’, as well as a host of other problems with such a definition. That’s why people don’t define ‘enlightenment’, because it can’t be defined.

We could try the other tack and try to say what enlightenment is not.
So for example, enlightenment is not an emotion, or any emotional state.
Of course suddenly seeing the world in a non-dualistic way would probably bring an emotional response from the individual such as bliss and wonderful feelings of peace etc. Or it may not, or it may bring the opposite emotions.

But even in saying what enlightenment is not, we are treating it as a thing, which it isn’t.
Language is dualistic and so cannot describe what enlightenment is.

There really is no such thing as ‘enlightenment’.
Enlightenment is a lack not an acquisition.
It’s impossible for an individual to become enlightened because that would imply that enlightenment is a state of that individual which it clearly cannot be since this would be dualistic by nature, as would identifying ‘enlightenment’ as an emotional state, or any kind of state for that matter.

Another minor comment: ‘Enlightenment’ isn’t an end, it’s nowhere where you reach ‘completion’; it isn’t a state or goal. That’s why Dogen said not to waste any time on it. That is, thinking about ‘enlightenment’ or trying to become ‘enlightened’ is a waste of time.

From an individual’s perspective, if anything, ‘enlightenment’ is just a beginning in the sense of an individual person’s adjustment to this lack. That’s why one can be ‘enlightened’ and still have many of the same old problems one had before one became ‘enlightened’: addictions, fears, loves, etc. Often, many of these would still have to be worked out even when one is ‘enlightened’.

I think that’s why Shakyamuni didn’t say much about it, and why the old Zen master’s didn’t either, but rather preferred to ‘demonstrate’ ‘enlightenment’ by raising a finger, or laying down a burden and picking it up again, or by making tea.

Dominic Gomez's picture

I rarely use the term when discussing Buddhism with people new to the practice. It has so much baggage attached to it. People gain a clearer understanding when I describe the ten life-conditions inherent in each human being, from hell at the lowest to buddhahood at the highest. Enlightenment is being able to utilize each condition to live every day with joy and confidence, no matter what happens. You could say that enlightenment is so hard to pin down because it's a moving target. And that "movement" is your life itself.

sharmila2's picture

I completely empathize with the desire to do away with the accoutrements and symbolic/ ritualistic overlay of the established traditions. However, to stop your daily practice just because you don't agree with it seems a bit drastic, especially since you acknowledge that it has helped you. Why would you give up your aspiration to liberation just because the trappings of religion conflict with your ego's opinion of what is right and wrong? Perhaps it is a way to avoid facing the difficult "dark side" thoughts and emotions that tend to come up at a certain point for every practitioner?
Either way I hope you are able to hold / accept the tension and still keep practising; it would be a shame to lose another little light in the world:) With very best wishes, and thanks for your honesty in sharing..

summit12's picture

I appreciate yr replies! Thanks so much. I don't think its a fear of facing my "dark side". if anything, I appreciate that aspect of the practice as I believe that that is where the rubber meets the road and where transformation begins. It sounds like maybe you can relate a bit to what some of my reservations are, that is helpful. I think I have developed a bit of distaste of dogma from all the ugly things I see going on in the world on a worldwide scale and also on a personal level with friends, family etc... people are so convinced that their religion is right and everyone else is just plain wrong. There doesnt seem to be any room for discussion. So when I see it even in a buddhist setting I have an automatic negative reaction, perhaps wrongly so. In my experience, buddhists seem to have the most open minds on the subject. I once heard the Dalai Lama, when asked, What will you think if you die and you are brought before a judging god and chastised for not following his religion. he thought about it and replied with a great laugh, I guess I was wrong! (this quote is very paraphrased but captures the gist of what he said) Perhaps I need to relax my judgements. Thanks for listening to my rambling anyway. It helps to open a dialogue out here and I really appreciate the replies. I would be curious to know if anyone else struggles with this and how they deal with it. Thx S12

Dominic Gomez's picture

One of the benefits of living in a primarily secular society (e.g. the United States) is the freedom to practice (or not) any religion. The co-opting of the religious by authoritarian power (resulting in dogmatism) may be at the root of your distaste for it. Such conditions disallow any space for dialogue. History has shown that when people allow that to happen to their spiritual life they lose their individuality and become helpless pawns.

Bdub57's picture

What a relevant topic - and what refreshingly, relevant, helpful posts!! Everyone's post touches on an aspect of my practice and what tends to impair it to one degree or another. I have been pretty successful at ritualizing 10-15 mins each morning before others are awake, and doing the same before retiring. But the quality of my "sessions" is uneven, of course. Richard F's point about defining "practice" in broad terms, seeing the three treasures in my daily doing and living and being, moment-to-moment, when I am capable of doing so, has been a terrific (inevitable!) way of bringing my practice to life. My roles as a husband and father, demands of work, not to mention the 5 Hindrances, of course (I think of them as the 5H Club), can reliably lead me to become atomized -- thoughts and energy zapping off in multiple directions. Or I can see them as opportunities to direct my desire in the constructive direction of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. I guess more than anything, Buddhism is teaching me how to love my imperfections and my questions, and progress in the direction of learning how letting go and living are not contradictory but profoundly complimentary. Thanks to all for sharing your insights so generously!

boiester's picture

thank you Bdub57!!

gauthamnekk's picture

Aww....I hate roadblocks

Dominic Gomez's picture

“It is said that good medicine tastes bitter." Chih-tu (c. 8th century CE)

worthmoremusic's picture

the computer is probably my biggest distraction and roadblock to deepening my practice....that and quiet space outside of the wee hours...

so I meditate when all other household members are sleeping and I force myself to shut down the computer for as many hours a day is feasible...

_/\_

sharmila2's picture

I find the biggest help was when i stopped considering only my time on the cushion "practice" and started being mindful in the midst of rage, anger, love, lust, rushing around, shopping, feeling annoyance, driving and all the myriad of situations that i encountered throughout the day. It took several years but ive finally made it to the point that I'm "practising" more often than not, and it is wonderful! The book "Dancing with Life" by Phillip Moffit taught me how to do this - while i had read many books on how to incorporate mindfulness in daily life, this is the only one that actually taught me how to do it with EVERYTHING, and it really works (or did for me, at least). Now every obstacle is just another topic of practice, another example of the first noble truth, and so i can practise even when fires are burning.

maitrimusings's picture

Sharmila, just wanted to express appreciation for your post. I just checked out that book from the library and am in the midst of reading it. Thank you for your enthusiasm about it, as now I will be sure to finish it, as initially I felt unsure about it because it seemed liked "too much"...information, I guess. Your post encouraged me. Thanks again.

windolene's picture

Laziness is a problem for me. Thoughts like, "I can't be bothered to sit down and practice." I've been working with this by viewing life as a continuous opportunity to practice mindfulness, as opposed to viewing life as compartmented into "meditating" and "not meditating".

Much like when we sit to practice and we work to return attention to the breath when it wanders, the whole of life can be viewed as a mindfulness exercise where we practice returning to the cushion again and again, in the face of a strong 'monkey mind' (or body) that would rather be doing something else. In this way there is no separation between being mindful and not being mindful, just an intention to keep working patiently with what is here.

My second big problem is doubt, "This is pointless", "Nothing is changing." I work with this by opening to the experience of mindfulness as something from which to expect nothing. It's just a journey to take, and a time to notice the things that happen. On occasions I've noticed shifts in perception and experience that lead me to believe something is changing, although I couldn't tell you precisely what!

These moments seem to happen when I bring attention to the present, with faith that what I am practising will lead to positive things. Mindfulness doesn't have so advocates for no good reason!

boiester's picture

Ah laziness and doubt. Yes! thanks.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Doubting your innate buddhahood is an obstacle. Regardless of which method you use to tap and develop your life-condition of enlightenment, if in your heart you still doubt that you are a buddha, you've hit a brick wall.

jela1966's picture

For me, the concepts that come to mind often when I want to meditate are so weighty that they can "get in the way" of sitting. For instance, compassion, especially when I'm not feeling particularly compassionate, can feel like a big elephant in the room. As if, I'm being not the best person, so I don't have the right to meditate. I recently attended a great talk with Karen Armstrong on compassion here in London which helped me put that in more perspective. I blogged about it at Aller-Retour (my blog) in the article Complexity in Ten Words or Less if anyone is interested.

http://dayreturn.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/complexity-in-ten-words-or-les...

Best Regards
James LaForest

tayzo74's picture

I have been unemployed for about two months now, and have just started to re-establish a meditation practice for myself (standing as well as regular sitting meditation, reading, etc.). It goes like this- after I get laid off or quit my jobs, I tend to lose all my motivation and desire to be active and healthy because I have no structure in my day. It's ironic to me that with more free time, I should use more of it to look for jobs or practice meditation, etc., but instead waste it with diversions and sleeping. It seems as though it's my desire for short-term happiness and satisfaction that keeps me away from the cushion at many times. Sometimes I also get the feeling that meditation is 'not worth it', or 'won't do me any good'. What I also find ironic is that what gets me out of those situations, is when I hit a 'dead end', and I force (not the best word, more like 'encourage') myself to meditate or read about the dharma. This often gives me renewed inspiration to 'wake up', and live fully, if not only just for a while. It takes like this direct Zen attitude for me to get out of the dumps sometimes, as in 'just do it', or 'put yourself there'. This is what I find hard about meditation...one day you can be all willy-nilly, feeling positive about your life and very happy, and the next you are spinning out of control with all kinds of negative emotions, and it's this linking of the two worlds which is so difficult in meditation because they are two opposites of the same reality. In meditation, you can't always pin-point your exact location on the map, you just have to go with it.

anduvo's picture

Hi tayzo74,
Thank you for your post. I feel I am in a very similar situation as you. I have been unemployed for several months. So I have time to do "formal" practice but I don't feel a single drop of motivation. I should be having strong motivation because I know the benefits but I don't feel it. What I feel is a huge lack of energy that might be confused easily as laziness. I have been trying to spot the problem for quite a long time already and I came to the conclusion that is not laziness but lack of energy to do things.
What I do feel like doing is being mindful as much as possible in every moment (informal practice). That in fact is rather non-doing than doing.
I think this lack of energy or laziness, is a call to stop doing and just be present in the now. (thoughts and inner chatter is also doing)

tayzo74's picture

Hi, thanks for your posted reply. I have come to the conclusion that formal practice on a regular basis is not for everyone, as I suspect you would agree (judging by your comments). I agree entirely that informal practice, such as mindfulness, can be just as effective in developing a caring attitude and mind, as well as can meditation. For me, I seem to get depressed when I meditate too often in a short period of time. I now just shake it off and do what really feels right in the moment (mindfulness), not just to do something because it's what 'I should be doing'. When I feel like meditation will be beneficial, I meditate. When I feel like reading, say the dharma, I read the dharma. Of course I need to have motivation to do things, but I first need to know in what beneficial way it should be invested. This is the heart of mindfulness training- knowing what to tune your attention to in the present moment. Things get really simple when you live this way. Buddha Smiles.

smiles4u2's picture

I am in the process of the Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo retreat "The Eight Worldly Concerns". Listening to her might help you to understand that there will always be ups and downs and through practice you can help yourself through the uncertainty. She refers to a surfer who manages to ride the waves and with practice enjoys the bigger waves...the bigger challenges. It is how we look at a situation that makes it either a hardship or an opportunity. Your final comment suggests that you understand this.

tayzo74's picture

Ty very much for your reply. Just wanted to mention the coincidence about how you posted about Jetsunma's message about 'riding the waves...the bigger waves'. It so happens that even before reading your post I was using that same image of waves being in the ocean. The water as being like the substance/ultimate origin/reality of all phenomena, while the rising and falling of waves are like experiences and fluctuations that we encounter on our journey, as it must be... it's difficulties, and so on. By the way, since my original post, I've been more motivated and dedicated to my well being. My attitude has been more positive, and I've discovered now that I must "ride the waves" at times, not just "walk the shore". I now have two volunteer positions and a part-time payed position as for work, and all is going well so far. I realize that I have always been practicing the dharma, in my daily life and attitudes, whether on the cushion or not. Much Metta.

yakimayogi's picture

For me it is that I am tired too. I do know that it is relaxing, so it does help.

Sometimes, it is that I have my mind on too many things and hard to sit.

michael.mcphee11's picture

I have had intermittent difficulties with anxiety and panic. When I have a "relapse" it can take months for me to get myself back to a state where I am comfortable enought to delve deep into my practice. I have also had difficulty with what I call a "constant body scanning" where I find myself consistently aware of bodily sensations to a point of distraction. My anxiety tends to revolve around the potential for medical illness so when I am experiencing a relapse the intensity of my meditation can sometime exacerbate the anxiety by increasing the focus on my body. I have been researching and experimenting with other forms of meditation that don't focus so much on the body (things like analytical meditation, using different points of focus, and binaural beats). Essentially what holds me back from practicing is the fear for entering another anxiety/panic cycle because I did not give me brain/body enough time to move past the tendency to jump into flight or fight mode for no apparent reason.

carolinecny's picture

When I am sad, frustrated, or angry I don't like to sit. I just can't bring myself to meditate. I would rather avoid my feelings or better yet, wallow in self-pity. And that's exactly when I force myself to sit and meditate. Because without fail, I feel better afterwards. Sitting with myself reminds me, once again, I am still here, I'm still breathing, and this too shall pass.

maitrimusings's picture

Your post was inspiring. Thank you. The "this too shall pass" spoke to me as well, as my mom would say that when I was growing up, whenever there were difficulties. I especially like how you shared that without fail, you feel better afterwards.

acdunn's picture

Aversion. Yikes. I'm afraid I'm a pro. I can relate to all of the posts above. When I reinitiated by practice this summer I was sitting daily for 30 minutes. This was in the midst of significant turmoil (a family member was very ill). I made the time, amidst the chaos, to sit. Now that these issues have been resolved, I find myself sitting less and less. In fact, for the past few weeks I've only been sitting when I attend my group practice. While I've committed some of what used to be my sitting time to studying the dharma, I know that I am too using that as an excuse not to sit. Sloth and fear are the major obstacles for me. I don't meditate at home when my husband is home for similar reasons as yourneighbor57 (although he would support that practice). I am self conscious about that I suppose. I am also guilty of rationalizing my lack of practice. If I believe that my mind isn't settled enough to sit it won't be a productive practice. Isn't that backward? Those are the moments I need to sit most -- during the moments that will shed more light on my mind that any other time. To top it all off, I'm afraid. I'm afraid I'm not practing "right." I'm afraid I won't be able to settle my mind. I'm afraid of the potential for failure and, therefore, avoid the opportunity to succeed. Thanks to everyone for sharing. I don't feel quite alone in my struggle. I appreciate that. I offer loving kindness to each of you.

Bdub57's picture

I looked up Yikes in Pali and you've nailed it, AC! ;-} I have had the same experience of "flipping" the process (trying to get "mindful" so I can practice only to learn that practicing is what gets me to "mindful"). I am new to Buddhism -- about a year since joining a neighborhood sangha. Owing to a character trait of wanting to completely intellectually understand whatever I commit myself to, my sitting has until recently been mottled with doubts and fear of ignorance and of getting it "wrong." These days, I focus on my breathing and find joy in watching the plume of worries and distractions arise and float off like the harmless baloons they are. I agree with MM above -- "flawed" sitting versus no sitting? No question which is more helpful in my experience. I've also enjoyed meditating each morning on that day's short passage from the Buddha Vacana (there's one for every day of the year) since it's something new I can look forward to discovering, and mediate on if I wish to. Thank you for your post!

maitrimusings's picture

Thank you. I related to your post, especially the part about making excuses because your mind is too busy and that would be the best time to practice. Also, as it pertains to the wondering if you're doing it right, something that comes to mind is what Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book "You Are Here". I believe he says something to the effect of...even when all you do for the whole time you are mediating is continually returning your attn back to the breath (after your attn has wandered) that is STILL a successful meditation. You are still getting the benefits of meditation. You are building your awareness. That is definitely not a waste of time. (I can certainly relate to the feeling you described, and wanted to share this in the hope that it may help you.)
Lovingkindness to you as well, acdunn. =)

phreest's picture

Usually it is a lack of time management that causes me not to practice. This is a bigger problem when I work 70 hour weeks, which is not the case at present. However, I notice that when I do practice, I am much more efficient at managing time after meditation. Noticing this irony has inspired me to set my clock much earlier than I ever thought possible, to get up one hour before my 5 year old gets up for school. He knows I meditate and has started getting up earlier to watch, try to sit or talk & cuddle, which sort of foils the meditation plan as he really can't sit for long. Nevertheless, on days I that I have time home alone, I plan a later session before he arrives from school.

beckstein's picture

I really enjoy sitting but find the demands made on me by others interferes. I am torn between 'kindnes' or 'unselfishnes' and taking time for my personal growth. When I notice the demands by dependants interferes I also notice my rising anger and irritation. I am aware that I am not the least bit kind or unselfish. I suppose that's also a form of practice? I also find it easier to practice where there is some sort of crisis in my life, because then I really "NEED" the practice (ie. I can justify it to the people around me). Why do I need their permission? Why do I feel I am obliged to do things for them? What are my actual duties to the people I live with in exchange for the roof over my head? How to I work that out? All jumping off points for my practice no doubt.