Many people who are new to meditation have the good fortune of going to an afternoon workshop or week-end retreat. The presenter is inspiring. The place of the workshop or retreat is conducive to meditation. There is a nice vibe among the group of people gathered there. There is no internet, TV, and everybody has turned off their cell phones.
People are sitting in meditation 2 or 3 times a day or more.
At least some of the people are experiencing more peace in their meditation than they have in the past and in their minds they make fresh commitments to sit once or twice a day when they get back home.
But when they get home the business of life, work, family, responsibilities, and the old familiar bad habits of procrastination, inertia, over-eating, etc kick in again, and the determination to meditate every day crumbles.
If you realize this has happened, then perhaps you can also realize this is a chance to practice being patient with yourself and to slowly gear up to start again.
Having a regular place in your home where you have your chair or cushion will help.
Either returning to books you once found to be important, or finding some new ones will also help you remember the spiritual goals you have and to benefit from the inspiring truths and stories of modern or ancient writers.
If there is a local meditation group or meditation center in your area, making the effort to get back there will also help.
But all of these are not as important as having a meditation teacher who you can really talk to about what is going on in your life and how you can get back to at least occasional practice. The fact that they are further along both in knowledge, discipline, and meditative experience will be inspiring enough to relight the fires of motivation.
The living example of their life and witness, and the strangely penetrating insights in their observations, will remind you of the benefits to be gained by consistent practice and study.
If you do not have a teacher, or if the teacher you have has disappointed you or betrayed your trust, then see if you can make a search to find a new teacher, or an interim person you can meet with until you find a new person to work with.
Be patient with yourself. But see if you can make small choices and take small steps to go on another work-shop or week-end retreat. See if you can return to those books from ancient or modern times that tell the stories of great saints and prophets who make heroic efforts to create more peace and wisdom in this beautiful but painfully troubled world.
See if you can spend time with noble friends or teachers whose care and example will help you get started again.
Be patient and look carefully to see what small choices and what small steps you can make. See if you can find again the willingness and the inspiration to sit in stillness and silence and to observe the stream of moments with a simple, innocent curiosity and an open heart.
Those who learn to stay in the present for sustained periods of time without drifting off in one distraction or another will find their mind and body calming, and settling into deeper states of peace. This prize is worth the winning.
Remember, we are trying to save the species, we are trying to save the planet, one person at a time. Remember we are trying to build new societies that are stable and more just and peaceful than the ones we live in now.
And your work and your efforts with practice are very, very important in this mission.
All the best,
Will Raymond Author of The Simple Path of Holiness and host of MeditationPractice.com