by Rudra Shivananda
The worst enemies of a spiritual practitioner are boredom and doubt. Gone are the early heady days when you found your spiritual path and embarked on a set of practice that you were sure would lead you to your goal… you now find excuses to skip your meditation.
To be sure, you have indeed made some progress in steadiness and stability in your life. You may even have a strong sense of peace and serenity. Then you hit a long period of nothing happening. You know you should preserver and keep practicing but it has become mechanical, routine and even boring. You soon come to doubt whether you’re even on the right path!
This negative situation happens to almost everyone who has seriously embarked on a spiritual path because of the lifetimes of karmic blocks that we’ve accumulated and need to be purified or removed – it will take much time and effort. During such lulls between recognizable signs of progress, a lot of work is being done behind the scenes, so to speak and it is imperative not to give in to discouragement.
In order to overcome these periods of boredom and doubt, one should continuously cultivate a strong desire for the goal that motivates us and a set of habit patterns that support our motivation.
Practitioners are confused when I speak about desire for the goal because they’ve read or heard that we should give up our desires in order to achieve higher consciousness. However, that is a misunderstanding – some wisdom can only be applied at certain stages of the path and does not apply at others. In this case, discarding desire would be like burning a bridge before we get to the other side of the river. We don’t need the bridge after we get to the other side but before that, it is essential.
The skillful practitioner should cultivate a strong desire for God, Self-Realization, happiness, bliss, peace or whatever goal can provide the motivation to give your time and energy. It is necessary everyday when you get up in the morning to remind yourself what it is that motivates you. We tend to forget in the restless madness of life. When you sit for your meditation, remind yourself once again why you’re doing it. Be mindful of your state of consciousness at all times and reinforce the peace, letting go of the restlessness.
Another helpful tool is to regularly invigorate and augment the motivation. This is accomplished by a regular habit of seeking out and participating in inspirational forums, such as attending spiritual gatherings especially of those who are Masters on the path. Keeping up with friends who are on the path can also be helpful, as is watching inspirational videos or listening to relevant lectures.
The wisdom and support of others together with your strong desire for the goal will keep you motivated to continue your regular practice, to let your internal wisdom flow unimpeded. When you can connect with your internal guide continuously, you can let go of even the desire as motivation because you’ll never be bored or doubtful anymore.