bow, recite, visualize…

I’ve been struggling, as a matter of fact, struggling doesn’t even begin to help one understand where I’m at. I’ve been doing a ngöndro practice for a few months now. I know why I’m doing it, or at least I think I know why.

I bounce my head against the wall every time it comes to the point in the day I need to begin. I get to my space, start doing it and it feel like I’m just going through the motions… bow, recite, visualize… bow, recite, visualize… bow, recite, visualize…

My mind goes into a tizzy, “Do I really need to do this?” “Do I really need a teacher?” “Is this shit really for me?” “What is the plan Nate?” “What are you trying to accomplish here?”

My practice feels like it is in shambles, in small pieces like a house demolished after a hurricane. I hate to quote Katy Perry but she has a song on the radio that includes the lyrics “After a hurricane comes a rainbow.” It’s given me a bit of hope that this shall pass, and has provided a bit of assurance that it will.

I’ve also been reading “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind” and the key thing I’ve learned from it so far is that it is ok to struggle, the beginners mind is possibly the way to be. Not sure if I agree at the moment, but I do understand what Shunryu Suzuki is getting at with those words.

There is no real point to this post, just airing out some stuff, feels a bit better that way!


  1. Hey :)

    While doing prostrations, I find that I begin trying to visualize the refuge tree, and to really feel the presence of these beings – radiant embodiments of bodhicitta. Generally, reflecting on the Four Thoughts helps me to ground in the present. I feel gratitude towards Jewels, and begin to chant and prostrate.

    I find that when any thoughts come up, the best thing to do is simply allow the thought to arise and pass. If you can notice their empty nature, the thoughts will self-liberate without leading to more discursive thinking. Then bring yourself back to the practice, visualizing, feeling the gratitude/compassion/bodhicitta arising in yourself. Notice also any judging thoughts that happen after you get caught up in discursive thought, or thoughts of doubt, thoughts of anything except the practice — just notice them and allow them to dissipate, returning to the practice. They are all dependent on causes and conditions, and one needn’t bother with them. No way to stop them, but we can do our best to not cling to them or follow their cookie-crumb paths to more thoughts and emotions that are un-practice-related.

    Hope this helps. I am struggling with regularity in my practice as well, but keep on chugging.

    May all be auspicious and may all beings have happiness and the causes for happiness

  2. Nate, I am currently doing Ngondro as well, and trust me I know how you feel. It’s not easy to stay motivated and is definitely a big commitment. Reflecting on the four thoughts that turn the mind to dharma helps me at times. Have you read Words of my Perfect Teacher by Paltrul Rinpoche? There’s also a great commentary by Gyaltrul Rinpoche called Great Perfection, Buddha in the Palm of the Hand Take care and good luck, it’s worth it my Vajra brother!

  3. Stick with it. We always question whether it is worth it and whether we are doing it right. It is worth it.

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