Establishing a daily practice at home is very important. In the midst of our busy lives with work and family commitments, it can be difficult to establish and maintain a daily practice, but it is well worth the effort. Here are some ideas for ways to build your practice.
Set up a place in your home where you can regularly practice meditation. It could be a certain room or even just a corner of your bedroom. Try and find a space where there is minimal distraction and noise. Place a cushion, bench, or chair in this space.
An altar is not of prime importance but it can act as a focus for your sitting. Altars function by raising up those things we value. By using and taking care of an altar, it can be a simple way to cherish those things and remember them. At Yokoji, our altars hold a candle, incense, flowers and a statue. However, an altar is a very personal part of your practice and should contain those things that are special to you.
Time of Day
Some people are alert in the morning and sleepy at night, or the other way around. Pick a time when you feel you will have the least distraction. Mornings are often the best time for this, but depending on your lifestyle, choose a time of day that works for you and try and stick to it as far as possible.
Make a commitment to regular zazen practice that you can maintain. Decide when you will sit each day and for how long. If you have to miss a day, don't allow it to throw the rhythm of your established schedule. It is very easy to let practice become something you mean to do but don't actually do. Good intentions are important, but unless they manifest as actual time spent sitting, they aren't doing much for you. Try not to set your goals too high. It is better to sit for 5 or 10 minutes a day than 1 hour once a week. By being realistic about what you can do, there is less chance of giving up on regular daily zazen practice. Allow your practice to develop organically over time. Start with a shorter period and when you feel like you want to stretch yourself further, gradually increase the time you spend in zazen until you reach a set period of time that works for you.
Find out if there are sitting groups in your area and get in touch. Check out the list of affiliates that are connected with the center. Zen practice, like any activity, benefits from group support. At Yokoji, we have year round training, retreats and workshops where you can practice with other like minded people in a suportive environment.