Organizing my practive

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Organizing my practive

Postby Nikolay » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:15 pm

Hi, could you help me with one question please?

In short, I have problems making myself do useful things. Procrastination, or whatever it is called. I tend to forget about my daily tasks, postpone them, and fill my time with useless stuff like surfing the internet. I am sure many are familiar with this problem. My practice greatly suffers from this as well. I try to motivate myself as much as I can, reading appropriate texts, etc, but apparently I have a lot of karma holding me back, because I am not very successful.

Recently I have discovered a nice method of dealing with this. I wrote down various tasks (exercising, cleaning my room, working on various projects) and assigned them positive values, like +1, +5, +10, depending on the difficulty of the task. Then I wrote down some things I like (playing video games, buying stuff, reading blogs, etc) and assigned them negative values, like -10 or -50. So, once I "earn" points doing useful stuff, I can spend them - for example, by playing video games for an hour, or something else. So far, this worked quite good.

Now more to the point. I did not include my Buddhist practice in the "useful things" category, because it seemed just wrong: meditating on compassion or reciting mantras to "earn points" to spend on some entertainment? No way. But I still keep thinking of using a separate but similar system just for my practice. For example, I could just give myself some daily negative points (representing sliding deeper and deeper into samsara), and then I would assign positive values to different practices, so that I would be forced to do them to stay in the positive. Or something.

I believe there was some kind of precedent for using similar techniques in the past. For example, I remember a story about a certain geshe (I forgot the name) who used to put a white stone in the bag each time he had a good thought, and a black stone each time he had a bad thought, and in the beginning most stones at the end of the day would be black, but eventually he got to the point where all stones would be white. But I am still concerned that doing things "for points" would somehow misdirect my motivation, "cheapen" my practice, and harm it. What do you think? Do you have some methods of your own that you use to motivate yourself in your practice?
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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby futerko » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:52 pm

I guess it depends where you feel you are in your practice. The idea with the black and white stones can be beneficial if it done to help maintain mindfulness, but not so good if it is done just to keep score.

What you are talking about may well be seen as "goal-oriented" activity, something which is ultimately an obstacle, but as you are talking about motivation to get practising then you need to find what works for you.

My practice at the moment is almost the opposite of this, if I feel any guilt at not doing a formal session then I let it pass as quickly as it came, but I have done quite a lot of formal practice to even get to that stage. Noticing things like, for example, I don't want to sit with a full stomach, I would often tell myself that I will sit first and then eat, but how often I did neither and was left hungry and feeling bad for not sitting!

One solution I have found is to incorporate practice into my daily life, for example walking to the shop while contemplating the four mind turnings. Some might say this is encouraging a distracted practice, but I have found that over time it actually helps incorporate it so it becomes easier to maintain the view 24/7 without having such a huge expectation and divide between meditating and post-meditation.
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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby muni » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:42 am

futerko wrote:
One solution I have found is to incorporate practice into my daily life, without having such a huge expectation and divide between meditating and post-meditation.

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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby Ramon1920 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:33 am

I find it hard to do anything on will power, I'm pretty impulsive and easily addicted, especially when it comes to eating. In the past I have been able to push myself to do things, but my willpower is at an all time low lately. Anyways, I still practice several hours a week because I ride public transit about 20 hours a week. I take a little folder with all my daily texts in plastic protector sheets and go through my routine, for mantras I just mentally say them, say them quietly, or do the visualizations then recite the mantras later when I have free time. In the past when I had more stamina I would get myself to meditate by loading up on chocolate and tea at 3am in the morning, which I still do, but not to get myself to meditate lol. It is easier for me to study than to meditate, I download hundreds of hours of Dharma talks and sutta readings and put them on my ipod, then through out the day or whenever I'm playing some old video game to mentally rest I listen to the talks.

So those are my strategies. Willpower is awesome if you have it, but this is more important than exercising or whatever, so scheme and bargain with yourself in non counterproductive ways if necessary.

I wouldn't worry about the motivation too much to begin with. A pure motivation comes when you comprehend suffering of yourself and others, if you forgo practicing because you're motivation isn't right then who knows when you'll comprehend those things.
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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby Ayu » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:57 am

For me it would be too much stress to collect points anyhow. I have this syndrome to forget what i wanted to do. And also if i have to do something seriously i start to do something else that i wanted to finish before.
I found out everything funktions better with good motivation than with forcing my self. When i'm not nice to my inner child, it will find various ways to disturb my tasks. :tongue:
There is a point within myself where i don't bother anymore about doing or not doing. When i find this point and go there everything is done. Activities go on but i rest in this peaceful state inside.
The more i try to organize the more mess i produce.
Better to ask "What is most important now?" and then concentrate on this.
And at the end of the day i completed many important good things but not necessarily that ones from my list. :tongue: It's okay. Very important for motivation is to look at all i have done and be glad about that - not to look at what i couldn't manage.
This may sound lazy but for me it's the best way to get out of lazyness.

And also, to change a habit one dislikes, for example spending hours on the internet, one has to change it in little steps. First just do ONCE something different - against the desire - and find out that this is not bad. :smile:

My practice became more continiously since i have certain times to do it: before and after sunrise and also before and after sunset. Everything else is open and variies from day to day. Some practice is only for two minutes, some for hours during my work or in the bus or on the bicycle...
This (what kind of practice) i write down every day. So i get a very intersting longterm overview. And i see, i do much more practice than i think.
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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby black_tea » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:21 pm

I can have issues with procrastination as well -- I always start out with good intentions but....

I really started looking at my day and pointing out to myself how much time I really do have to practice and that there is just no excuse not to. So I picked a time of day that I thought would work the best for me -- in this case it's before work. Challenging because I am not a morning person, yet easier in the sense that it's more difficult for me to drum up motivation at the end of the day when I'm tired after work. I also tend to be more distractable in the evening than when I first get up. I just started setting my alarm a half hour earlier. It was difficult to the first few days, but the more I did it the more I realized that I like starting the day this way. I had one morning I decided to sleep in a bit instead, but when I did get up I was like 'ok, time for meditation and nembutsu!', only at that point I didn't have much time before I had to leave for work. That experience made it easier to keep to the schedule.

I don't think keeping a kind of point system would work well for me, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't for some one else. For a point system to be effective I would have to associate the points with some kind of positive outcome (beyond the fact that I know dharma related activities are a good thing to do). For myself it really has come down to doing it enough to make it feel like a normal part of my day. Also I really do think that taking small steps at first is a fine thing to do. Maybe start short and then work up to a longer period of time and so on. For myself, sometimes procrastination comes about when I feel overwhelmed by something -- it makes it harder to get started, and just getting started can sometimes be the most difficult part.
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Re: Organizing my practive

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:13 am

One solution is to do guru yoga 24/7.


I don't know if I am a procrastinator or not I can't make up my mind.

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