For those of you who are not able to devote all your time to meditation, there is nevertheless the possibility of engaging in practice in a serious way. For example, the students at the monastic universities in South India can, with some effort, do meditations during the prayers. When you recite the prayers, you can mentally do the contemplation. The lifestyle and daily routine at these monasteries have been structured by the great masters of the past in a way that is most conducive to individual practice as well as to the flourishing of the dharma.
If you find that your mind is in a very fluctuating emotional state--displaying anger, hatred, attachment and so forth--then you should first try to calm down that state of strong emotion. This should be done by first transforming it into a neutral state of mind, because there is no way that one can switch directly from a negative state of mind to a positive one. Therefore, you should first reduce the force of these emotions and fluctuations and try to bring about some sort of calmness, using any means--such as taking a stroll or concentrating on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath--that will enable you to forget what you are immediately feeling. This will help you to reduce the force of strong emotion, thereby giving you the calmness necessary for the practice of dharma. Like a white piece of cloth which could be dyed any color that you desire, such a neutral state of mind could then be transformed into a virtuous state of mind.
You could also engage in the preliminary practices of performing 100,000 prostrations, recitations of the Vajrasattva mantra, and so forth. When you undertake these practices, you should do them properly, not being only concerned about the number. Many great masters of the past of all traditions have emphasized the importance of these preliminary practices--they will enable you to have a very firm start. If through them you can acquire a fertile mind, then when the seed of meditation is planted, it will readily bear the fruits of realizations.
Having successfully neutralized the emotional fluctuations within your mind and having restored a reasonable degree of calmness, engage in the practice of taking refuge and generating the altruistic aspiration to attain full enlightenment. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is the factor that distinguishes one's practice from that of an erroneous path, and the generation of the altruistic mind makes it superior to the paths aiming at individual liberation.
--from The Path to Bliss by H.H. the Dalai Lama, translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa, edited by Christine Cox, published by Snow Lion Publications