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Slackening in Enthusiasm in Practice

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  • Haca Ce
    started a topic Slackening in Enthusiasm in Practice

    Slackening in Enthusiasm in Practice

    Hello Venerable,

    I hope this message finds you well. I just have some questions about my meditation and Dhamma practice. I have been meditating regularly every day for at least 1 hour for the past three years. I had great enthusiasm for meditation and Dhamma practice for most of this time. However, I have started to lose my enthusiasm for meditation, although I still sit for meditation every day and try, just as usual. For the first year or two of meditation, my practice progressed smoothly and I achieved a quieter mind and states of satisfying inner peace. Lately, though I've noticed that my mind is wandering more and I'm daydreaming for most of the hour in my meditation. This might be linked to my slackening in enthusiasm for practice which causes my mind to wander. So:

    1) Should I try to re-ignite or increase my enthusiasm for Dhamma practice? I regularly listen to Sutta study classes, read Dhamma books, etc which I love. So I'm still eager to learn the Dhamma. **Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel that whether I am enthusiastic or not, the important thing is I continue meditating regularly and practicing Dhamma since feeling enthusiastic or not are just feelings or mental states. So the important thing is to continue practicing and soon we'll overcome these hindrances. Is this correct?

    2) Should I try some different techniques such as counting my breaths to keep my mind from wandering? I personally try to just gently bring my mind back to the breath when I notice it wandering. Counting breath seems like just trying to achieve something and one can end up in frustration. Plus I've tried this and other techniques, but again I think the hindrances and issues I've mentioned are just normal obstacles on the path. I should just keep practicing contentment in the moment, gently bringing my mind back when it wanders, putting the instructions into practice, and my mind will overcome the obstacles when the time and conditions are right. We shouldn't try to achieve anything or have expectations in meditation. Is my understanding correct?

    3) I am looking at places nearby to practice a solo meditation retreat in nature when I get the chance. I prefer practicing by myself and I think I should try to go on a solo retreat in nature to deepen my practice? I know this is not necessary and I can continue practicing at home, but do you think a solo retreat might be helpful for me?

    Thank you for your time Venerable.

    With metta.
    Last edited by Haca Ce; 30th-October-2020, 05:54 AM.

  • Haca Ce
    replied
    Thank you very much for your advice Venerable Upekkha! Have a wonderful Rains retreat!

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  • Upekkha Bhikkhuni
    replied
    Dear Haca Ce,

    Having read your email, I must congratulate you on your regular meditation practice and enthusiasm for the Dhamma – studying reading and reflecting. You are already doing very well!

    Bringing your mind back gently whenever it wanders away is a good approach. The only problem is that you (all of us) have expectations! “After three years of practice, I should make more progress!”

    You must have heard Ajahn Brahm’s story of the man who goes to work and doesn’t get paid. In case you haven’t heard it, it goes something like this (with embelishments):

    A young refugee finally finds a job in Australia. With great enthusiasm he heads off to work on Monday and works his butt off. At the end of the day he is shocked when he doesn’t get a cent for his efforts. He comes home and relates the story to his poor wife. They are desperate but decide, nevermind, let’s try again tomorrow. So off he goes to work on Tuesday, and can you believe it, once again – nothing! Having no alternative, he returns on Wednesday, then Thursday – and he is about to give up hope. But his good wife implores and on Friday, he goes to work again, expecting nothing…and bonanza! He gets a massive cheque! Not only for a single day’s work, but for all five days! Friday is payday! (At this Ajahn Brahm concludes “And so he decided to only go to work on Fridays.” Ha Ha.)

    Anyway, the point is to work joyfully, enjoying the process - and any “paycheque” is a bonus.

    When my own mind gets bogged down in some story or the other, I also like to dig in - investigate (when the mind has some degree of quietness) and find out for myself exactly where and how I get ‘Hooked’. Hooked, that is, caught up in craving. The thoughts and emotions that enchant us, over and over again. They are oh-so-subtle, but they can be felt in the body – a subtle contraction, a pulling inward. Become awake to your own pet hindrances – it goes a long way!

    Like you do, I too find enthusiasm from reading the suttas and listening to Dhamma teachings. Yesterday I read one called the “Sambodhi Sutta” (AN9.1) – you might find it useful too as it relates to your question.

    As to your final suggestion of going on a solo meditation retreat in nature – sounds good, but personally I would also think of going to a monastery or retreat centre where you could ask questions and seek guidance from a teacher / Dhamma friends. Sometimes someone else might be able to point out what you just can’t see yourself. But of course if that is not possible, a solo retreat in nature is just fine!

    Wishing you all the very best in your Dhamma practice.

    With metta,
    Ven Upekkha

    PS: We will be entering the Rains (that is, the three month retreat period for monastics) starting on the 27th of July. Unfortunately, I will not be logging onto the Forum during this period. Perhaps you could also make that time your retreat too? Connect to the power of the Sangha around the world?

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