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  • Written by  Jerome Stone
  • // Wednesday, 03 October 2012 11:15
Jerome Stone

How to meditate: Distraction in meditation doesn't matter

Meditation is about getting used to being in the state of non-distraction. Or, and this is even better, mediation is about not being distracted by your distractions!

When you begin the practice of meditation, you may become pretty disheartened to learn that your mind is everywhere else but on your meditation. Even after years of practicing meditation, there are times when instead of meditating, I find myself caught up in a sea of emotions and thoughts, unable to do anything but try desperately to ride the waves and not get swept away.

What is most wonderful about this whole process is that even when you find yourself getting swept away and coming back to your meditation after what seems like hours, you can use that “coming back” as your meditation practice. That is, the practice of meditation means getting used to practicing even as your thoughts and emotions arise and you find yourself getting distracted.

Meditation Isn’t About Trying to Block or Prevent Thoughts from Arising

Meditation is not about trying to create an absolutely still or blissful state. Actually, trying to achieve anything when you’re meditating, or trying to “get to” any state of mind is not what meditation is! Meditation is a state of non-distraction, allowing your mind to rest in ease, in the face of whatever arises. As such, you don’t practice by trying to prevent thoughts and emotions from arising in your mind. Instead of trying to rid your mind of distractions, you work on returning to your mind, restful in its own nature, each time that you find yourself swept away by thoughts or emotions.

Meditation Is About Returning To Your Meditation When You Find Yourself Distracted

Returning again and again to a state of calm abiding can feel like “hard work.” And, in a way, it is. It’s hard because we’re not used to being undistracted. We’re so used to being swept away by the mere arising of a thought or emotion, that we find it difficult not to do so.

Learning to Meditate Is About Having Patience and a Great Sense of Humor

Have patience, have persistence, and have…a great sense of humor! And, when you do get swept away, and you remember that you’ve been swept away, and you return to your practice, congratulate yourself. You’ve succeeded in changing the way that you normally have worked with your mind, and that’s success!

Each Moment of Distraction is an Invitation to Meditate

Remember this: each time that you are distracted, it is an opportunity to practice non-distraction, so that even your distractions are practice. Each time that you return to your practice of non-distraction from a state of distraction, you’re meditating. Failure is impossible if you stick with it! It’s like each time you find yourself distracted, you’ve been given the gift of an opportunity to meditate.

Here’s an Easy Meditation Practice that You Can Do Right Now, While You’re Reading this Post

Even while you’re doing something, you can practice meditation. For instance, right now you’re reading this post. What else are you doing? Are you at work trying to get something done? Are you at home thinking about things that need to be done? No matter what you’re doing and no matter where you are, you can practice meditation. How? Like this…

Whatever else you’re doing right now, set it aside…even for just three minutes. If you’re at home, make yourself comfortable in front of your computer. If you’re out and about and are viewing this post on a mobile device, also make yourself comfortable. If you’re at work and you can take the time, do the same.

Sit upright but not stiff, relaxed.

Keep your eyes open.

Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees.

Right now, without thinking about it, you’re breathing. So, just begin to watch your breath. Just watch your breathing. Don’t try to change your breath.

Notice the breath as it enters your body either through the mouth or the nose, as it fills the lungs, and then as it exits your body. Simply watch the breath. Do this for a few breaths.

When you find that your mind has wandered, simply bring your attention back to the breath, without thinking about your distraction or commenting on it. Simply watch the breath.

Do this for a few minutes, watching the breath and then bringing the attention back to the breath whenever you find that you’ve become distracted.

And then…relax.

Meditation is the State of Non-Distraction

This very short exercise is a reminder of two things. First, it reminds you that the practice of meditation can be done anywhere, at anytime, for any amount of time. Think about it, this short exercise can be done at a red light, in an elevator, in the shower, sitting in traffic, waiting for an appointment…you get the idea. You don’t have to make big preparations to meditate, just do it.

Also, this exercise reminds you that to become less distracted, you don’t have to “do” anything besides remembering to return your attention to the present moment, using the breath as an anchor. Also, it reminds you that distractions are another reminder for you to return you attention to the present moment.