I’ve been told by many, many contemplative practitioners that they want to practice on a regular basis practice, but they have trouble maintaining it. When asked what the problem is they most frequently respond that they don’t seem to be able to find the time in their day. That unveils the problem. They’re practicing when there is free time available. Our lives appear to abhor a vacuum and will fill in whatever time is available with some seemingly important activity, leaving no time for practice.
A wise friend of mine once said that you can tell what a person truly values not by what they say but by what they do. From this perspective the on-again-off-again practitioners are clearly demonstrating that they value every other activity in their lives more than practicing. They’re giving it a very low priority.
If we truly want to practice regularly we must give it a very high priority. If we don’t care that much about practicing that is fine. Continue doing what you’re doing as that’s what is important to you. Just correct the statement that you really want to have a regular practice. To a statement that you would like to practice if nothing else is available to occupy you.
If practicing regularly is really important to you then I find that it must be given a particular time slot every day that is not infringed upon except when absolutely necessary, which is very seldom. I schedule it daily first thing in the morning after I have my morning coffee. If there isn’t time then I plan to get up earlier to make sure that there is time. I also practice before dinner in the evening, but this is not as high a priority and often is replaced with another activity. But, I make sure that the morning practice is sacrosanct.
What exact time you schedule your practice should be determined by your life’s demands and what works best for you attending to your practice. But, whatever time you schedule, give it your highest priority. Don’t let life’s business intrude. Treat it as a treasured time for nourishing yourself that is as important as eating and sleeping. Give it that priority and you’ll be able to fulfill your aspiration to practice regularly and in fact, that will make the rest of your day markedly better and more productive.