Sometimes it can feel difficult to continue with spiritual practices because I get to a point where they feel boring or difficult. Where can I find the motivation to continue if I’m just feeling lazy or disinterested?
If we feel lazy or uninterested that simply means we must not truly understand the benefits of something for ourself, for our life.
For example, imagine you haven’t got much money and you hear that the kebab shop in Murwillumbah is having a promotion tomorrow where you can get a free kebab and a hundred dollars. I want to ask a question—how do you motivate yourself to go get that free kebab and a hundred dollars? Do you need me to inspire you? No. Do you need to read inspirational books? No. Why? Because you understand the benefit of it.
So when we think about spiritual practice and we’re bored and we feel it’s weird or it doesn’t work or whatever, that means we don’t understand the benefit of it—how it enhances our life.
For me, when I looked at the difference in myself after doing spiritual practice, I saw that I was feeling more beautiful, and it made me curious—“Wow, how beautiful can I feel? What’s the limit? I’m curious.”
So no-one needed to tell me to do spiritual practice, because I understood the benefit.
When I first learnt meditation, in my first year of university, I’d meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour at night, sitting on the carpet. I didn’t even understand that you’re allowed to meditate on a cushion—I had no idea! My bum would get sore towards the end of the hour and I’d think, “I wonder how these people are meditating and their bums are not sore. What’s wrong with me?”
But I was feeling more peaceful, more beautiful.
My father used to go to my room and open my door, and have a look to see what I was doing in there. He never said, “Keep it up, son.” I’ve never had anybody who personally encouraged me to do this. But I had many people who discouraged me!
So how did I continue? Because I understood, “Wow, it benefits me. I feel beautiful. I don’t want to walk around feeling flat and drained.” Nobody needed to teach me what being flat and drained felt like—I experienced plenty of that, so I knew the difference.
So if we’re bored and feel this is difficult, that means we must do more contemplation. We must ask ourself in a much deeper way, “Why am I doing this spiritual practice? For what reason?” We have to ask ourself a lot more deeply.
Are we doing a meditation retreat or joining a group to do spiritual practice so we can encourage each other to practise more? Or are we there to look for a partner? There could be all sorts of reasons. Are we just lonely at home and we want to speak to someone so we don’t feel weird at home by ourself all the time?
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those reasons, but if we have those reasons as our motivation, when we get home we will find it very boring to meditate!
So if we feel bored, we should contemplate and ask ourself, “Why am I doing this? Is this doing me any good? Why am I doing this?”
And if we ask why, if we investigate, and we consider that the benefits of spiritual practice are what we wish for in our life, then we’re unstoppable.