A. People who have this idea that practice is all about sitting merely display their lack of understanding of the complete process that needs to be put in place for the changes that practice brings about. Yes, you can say that of all the parts that go toward making a complete practice, sitting meditation would be the most important part, but sitting will not reach its full potential without the support of the rest of the eightfold path. So it is wrong to think that if you can’t sit you can’t practice. There are many people dedicated to Dharma practice who have difficulty with sitting meditation.

So rather than get disheartened learn to focus on the rest of the path. Ethical practice is the obvious one to focus on, for it is the gateway into the Dharma. Come to realise that while you are refining this aspect of the path you are cultivating the mind in the same way as sitting practice.

Restraining and containing actions, whether they are your thoughts, words or deeds, is possible only by self-awareness. Putting new thoughts, words and deeds into action is only possible with that same self-awareness. To do this you need application born of concentration and the understanding that your unskilfulness needs to change. Is this not working with the eightfold path of sila, samadhi, and prajna? What meditation practice will bring to this is a deepening of what you are already doing, but fundamentally there is no difference.

If you wish to come to meditation sometime in the future, then adding a devotional practice to an ethical one will help bring you more speedily to that roundedness. Devotional practice helps to soften the heart and introduces us to the side of ourselves that we need to learn to get in contact with in order for the deeper Dharma to arise. Devotional practice usually starts by projecting outwards to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but you should soon realise your relationship with this form of external practice is very much conditioned by the inner relationship you have with yourself, and therefore should make you reflect more and more internally.

Change that takes place in practice does not come from the head but rather from a part of us that we are for the most part cut off from, that deep emotional seat buried within our body. It is this that we need to become familiar with, and make friends with all that is contained there. There is little ‘logic’ here. It takes faith and trust, becoming familiar with the reality of Dharma practice – which is the willingness to surrender our profound attachment to the self that imprisons us in our head and creates the restlessness that prevents quiet meditation being possible.Devotional practice allows us to start that process of becoming whole. By combining this with your developing ethical stability and skilful means born of self-awareness, you will be transforming the emotional and mental restlessness that prevents you from sitting now. You will be laying the foundation for a fruitful sitting practice in the near future.