2 min read

focus comes from enjoyment, not force

The Buddha would be impressed by Reddit. It's a gold mine for spiritual insights.

A couple weeks ago I learned a cue for meditation from Reddit that improved my practice a lot.

Basically, don't force your attention on your breath to focus on it. Instead, take a few deep breaths, and really enjoy them. Tune into the subtle and interesting sensations that make up the breath.

It's easy to focus on my breath when I try and enjoy it in this way.

Now, I want to apply this outside of meditation. I have some documents at work I've been pushing off writing. I want to try spending the first few moments observing the subtle and interesting aspects of the task, and more generally connecting to my enjoyment of it.

I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Here's the original description of the attitude adjustment / technique (source):

The wrong-attitude approach is to deal with this obstacle by using effort to try to force the attention to stay on the breath. This is usually what a beginner will do when they encounter the obstacle of mind-wandering. It's natural, because we're used to overcoming obstacles through effort in other parts of life. We may not even know there's any other possibility! But although this kind of effort and forcing may lead to temporary states of concentration, it's a dead end—it will never lead to real progress, because it's only another instance of the mind fighting itself. Trying to force attention to stay on an object this way will produce feelings of tightness, tension, frustration, and being off balance.

The right-attitude approach, on the other hand, is to begin by taking a few big, deep breaths and really enjoying them. We spend the first five, ten, or thirty minutes of a session just relaxing deeply, sinking into the many deep and interesting sensations of the body and breath, tuning in especially to the pleasure, joy, and relaxation that can readily be found just beneath the surface of our everyday anxious and restless life. After sinking deeply into the body and this profound and pleasurable sense of relaxation—while remaining present and alert!—we very gently begin tuning in to the sensations of the breath as it moves slowly in and out. Gently we tune in more and more to these sensations—while remaining grounded in a relaxed, full awareness of the whole body—and find that they're beautifully elaborate and complex. The more we tune in, the deeper we can explore this mysterious intricacy of the breath. We find whole worlds in these sensations that we never knew existed, because we always assumed they were nothing special, and never bothered to look.

Enjoy this? Here are other insightful Reddit posts on meditation: