It's easy to get distracted while meditating.
Especially when it's a random Wednesday and you woke up late and you have work. You try to focus on your breath, but you quickly start daydreaming, thinking ahead to work, or replaying yesterday's events in your head.
Yet, most of meditation (and life tbh) happens on these random Wednesdays.
The trick to all this is to start with a warmup routine. Honestly, I cheated myself out of so many good meditation days before using a warmup routine. I'll put it this way. You go to the forest to deepen your practice, not Times Square. I see this as the mental analog of that.
Anyway, here's the routine I use, from The Mind Illuminated, an in-depth, 500-page manual on meditation with a subreddit devoted to it.
First, prepare for meditation:
- Review your purpose for meditation. Be honest! Don't judge your reasons. Be aware and accept them. Example: I want more peace of mind.
- Set a reasonable goal for the session. Base it on where you are in your meditation practice. Keep it simple. Keep it small. Example: not to get annoyed when my mind wanders.
- Remember to set aside your expectations. Bring to mind the dangers of expectations and be gentle with yourself. Find enjoyment in every meditation, no matter what happens. There is no such thing as a "bad" meditation.
- Resolve to practice diligently for the entire session. Recall that the best way to overcome resistance is by simply continuing to practice, without judging yourself. I try to do a sitting of strong determination where I don't move my body at all - addhithan.
- Perform a quick inventory of things in your life that might come up to distract you. Acknowledge these thoughts and emotions and resolve to set them aside if they do arise. You may not be wholly successful, but at least you have planted a seed: the intention to not let them dominate your mind.
There's a deep wisdom in these steps. Addhithan, intention setting, and preemptively noting your distractions all help with distraction. Setting aside your expectations is key to progress. And setting a right-sized goal is key to maintaining the right level of challenge to keep you motivated and making progress.
Okay, you've prepared for meditation. Now, transition your focus to the meditation object:
- Focus on the present (Zen open field awareness).
- Focus on bodily sensations.
- Focus on bodily sensations related to the breath.
- Focus on sensations of the breath at the nose.
- Count breaths. Try to follow the sensations continuously for ten consecutive breaths. When your attention slips or you lose track of the count, just start over again at one.
Simple! It gets quicker to do all of this over time, and it so improves the rest of your practice.
If I had to 80-20 this, in my own words I would do the following steps:
- Set an intention.
- Resolve to do a sitting of strong determination.
- Preemptively note what might distract me.
- Begin meditating by counting breaths.
I wish I could get all of society to get together and meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, every day. Everything would improve.
Alas, we are not there yet.
Until then, I hope the people that do already meditate, can warm up and get a little more out of their practice <3
THE LIGHT IN ME HONORS THE LIGHT IN YOU BYEEE