Noticing a decline in practice

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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TLCD96
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Noticing a decline in practice

Post by TLCD96 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:21 am

Hi everybody.

Almost 2 months ago, I got back from a 7-month stay at a monastery and since then I have noticed my practice declining, steadily and slowly. To sum it up, the integrity is fading. I keep finding myself thinking: I can't wait to be back at the monastery... in the future... it'll be so much better

My resolve is still there, but I'm particularly finding myself acting on my desires more and more often, getting wrapped up in thoughts, and losing composure (i.e. acting inappropriately for somebody intent on practice). That can mean grabbing a quick bite out of the fridge, putting myself before others, not cleaning up after myself promptly, etc. These things might seem minor but definitely contrast with life at the monastery (and also with the habits of those I perceive to have integrity in their lives) and arise concurrently with unskillful states of mind, such as restlessness, anger, and sensual desire. My morning and evening meditations have also been declining in terms of their quality.

And also, and perhaps most importantly, my small circle friends isn't very skillful. They aren't criminals, but to put it simply, they're unrestrained in their behavior, and a couple of them do smoke pot and/or drink openly, illegally. Thankfully, I don't partake in those things (and that's a small to non-existent portion of what they do when I'm hanging out with them) but it's easy to suspect that they are influencing me. My immediate family who I live with is also not very inspiring (which I hate to say).

Obviously some things to do would be to find better friends, but my social skills aren't quite developed to that point (for now of course), and also another thing would be to just restrain myself more (easier said than done) - but the thing is, that's getting harder; it's getting easier to say "yes" to desire instead of "no".

Another thing would be to meet with a Sangha, and this is possible, but difficult to access at this point given my financial situation.

Would anyone mind sharing their tips and insights into building their practice in the world? What helps for you?
All of us are bound by birth, aging, and death. - Chanting book

R1111
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Re: Noticing a decline in practice

Post by R1111 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:50 am

I will say how it is for me. It declines when i don't meditate much. However it is always amazing when i start meditating because of how quickly it all comes back and progress is attained. I don't worry about it much and for me it does not seem to decline much anymore, even at my worst i am way better than most so there's that. People say that Jhana is incredible, to me it is meh, it is better than sex and drugs but that is really hardly something to write home about as those things are freaking dull to begin with.

I was keeping 8 precepts as lay person but eventually found it too hard to keep up without intensive practice which i can't/won't keep up because i work a demanding job at weird hours, so i formally keep 5+ some other precepts like sleeping on the floor and squatting to do the things, i keep them because it is natural to me at this point and there were times where i broke precepts as my state was less developed. I feel shameful at times to eat at inappropriate time etc but I do not concern myself with it much, i do my best to make money asap so that i can go do the retreats abroad and attain higher paths because i can only fantasize about what an intensive 90 day all day training will do. So i pick my battles in this way.

In regards to friends i do not have any left, one person who i used to consider friend visits me occasionally but he has no idea at all.. However he is a funny guy so it is entertaining to me for a short while until i get really tired of his defilements and want to be left alone. I think i get visitors 1 day a month or so nowadays, rest of the time i talk to people on the internet a bit and communicate with the cashiers who sell me food, thats all and it is pretty awesome.

I consider my meditation teacher my only real friend in the whole world.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: Noticing a decline in practice

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:49 am

1. Get new friends or do without.

2. Set a timer for your practice and stay down that amount of time no matter what you think or what you think you think.

3. When you start walking toward the cushion or doing your bows or what ever precedes your practice, make a commitment to let go of your negative thoughts about your practice till its actually over.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

Digity
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Re: Noticing a decline in practice

Post by Digity » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:45 pm

Do you think a Buddhist shouldn't be friends with people who drink or hang out with them when they drink? If so, I'd have nearly zero friends in my life. Not sure I could handle that.

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TLCD96
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Re: Noticing a decline in practice

Post by TLCD96 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:52 am

Digity wrote:Do you think a Buddhist shouldn't be friends with people who drink or hang out with them when they drink? If so, I'd have nearly zero friends in my life. Not sure I could handle that.
I'm sure it'd be more conducive to a spiritual lifestyle if your friends all lived by the five precepts. But your question is part of the reason why I made this thread, which is to get somebody else's perspective on the situation - particularly one based in life experiences and/or one which isn't black and white (i.e. "if you're Buddhist, you can't have friends who drink").

It's a gradual practice after all. Right now I'm noticing that a lot of my thoughts about a "decline in practice" are a way of being too hard on myself and not being patient. With determination and self-honesty, good change can come. But it's not easy.
All of us are bound by birth, aging, and death. - Chanting book

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