I wrote an article on How to live a Zen life without becoming a monk as one of the first entries on this blog. To this day, it is the most popular entry. How can we encourage ourselves to practice without striving for a goal? Is the hardship necessary? What is pure practice? If you find difficulty in your practice it is proof that there is some sort of mistake in it, which is why we usually need a teacher to encourage us in our discouraging practice :-)
Check out this little video by Shunryu Suzuki.