Recently, at the end of a Qigong workshop I conducted, I was speaking to some of the attendees who were sharing with me the various exercises and practices they have been advised to use by doctors, physical therapists, yoga teachers, etc... And they all admitted that they rarely practiced--certainly not as much as advised, or enough to really do any good. I shared some of my ideas for training and motivation, but I wonder how well it will be followed, if at all.
I am not being judgmental, but as we continued our discussions I was given some pretty common--and unsolicited--reasons for not practicing. One lady in particular, was quite honest. She just didn't like it; saw it as an undesirable chore. Others said they knew they should do better, but just didn't, or couldn't find the time. The last excuse is a familiar one. I hear that one a lot, and have used it myself a million times.
Again, I really don't want to come across as judgmental, but perhaps if we look at some of these "reasons" we can learn something about our own practices. And for practice I mean Qigong, Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Karate, Jogging, Walking, Meditation, Prayer, Lifting Weights, Swimming--basically, whatever works for you, whatever is self-nurturing.
First, practice shouldn't hurt and it shouldn't be a chore. If it is, try changing your mind. If that doesn't work, perhaps you need a different practice. Your practice should be yours, it should be what speaks to you. My practice is certainly that way, but I don't discount the practice of others either. In my view, we should shop around and find the practice that energizes us, the kind of practice that could never be a chore; the practice you can't wait to do.
Second, you should have enough time to practice. Everybody should have 20-30 minutes a day, minimum, they can spare. My regular students know that I emphasize minimum here. Ideally, an hour or two a day is better. But we do have to live in the world. However, if you didn't get any practice in for any given day, take a look at what you did do that was optional. Ask your self: did you really not have 1/2 hour to spare? Or did you choose to spend your time otherwise? If your life is so busy that it is impossible to find 20 minutes, do you think you could make some changes? Is it worth it to you?
The final analysis is the level of importance for you. If your health is on the line, I would think practice may rank a little higher than Facebook or Cable TV. On the other hand, if you just see it all as a chore you won't do yourself many favors by forcing it. In all likelihood, you will end up quitting anyway. Again, perhaps an answer is to find a practice that is not a chore, or a state of mind that welcomes the opportunity for self-nurture.
Please know that I realize it is not always easy. That is why they call it practice. My point is, we all reach a place in life where we need to take a look at how we approach it. Often, a good teacher is helpful in instilling discipline and helping design a training routine. Ask your teacher if you need help. Find a teacher if you don't have one.
Most of us find the time every day for personal hygiene. You can think of practice the same way--internal cleansing. It is obviously important to find the time to brush your teeth, else you lose them. The same applies to the rest of your mind/body. Nurture all of your Self, else you lose that as well.