Finally, with a deep breath, you get ready to meditate, but something reduces the quality of your session…distractions.
Whether you are someone who’s a beginner or someone who has primed the mind to stay focused, you cannot help that from time to time your brain acts like it’s on a trampoline, bouncing from thought to thought.
Usually these thoughts are not the kindest thoughts. They happen to be thoughts most likely to be from the past, of regret, sadness or even anger. Other times it can be something we read or saw in a movie or on social media.
For whatever reason we end up not being in the present. But this is no accident.
The biggest reasons for why we tend to drift away can be summed up in 3 points:
1. The Mind Is Constantly Working
When you woke up today, and brushed your teeth, how many things were you thinking of? On your way to work, how many to-dos were you reviewing? While you were waiting on your coffee in the morning, how many phone calls did you make?
As we advance, especially in the digital age, we have to learn to juggle (just ask a parent). Everything from keeping up with work and then finding time to update your FB/Instagram account, to understanding the latest news on the threats to our data online, we are constantly on the go. We are constantly making decisions.
After all this, a sharp mind, a fast mind, cannot just switch to an inactive mind or a slow mind. It has to go through the motions. So we must give it something to focus on. The only ONE thing it needs to focus on is: breathing.
This is a great way to come back from distractions, and helps us slow down.
2. It Is The Nature Of The Mind to Produce Thoughts
We now know that the sharpest tool we have in life is our mind. So its only natural for the tool we use the most to continue its function.
So never judge the thoughts that randomly pop up. Allow it to come but don’t try to brush it off. Instead, when you realize you’re distracted, come back to the breath.
3. We Confuse Meditation With Contemplation
What does staring into the night sky with friends, watching rain from your window and 12 am on your bed have in common with meditation?
Answer: It’s a period of relaxation. And what do we do when we are relaxed and distanced from work or our phones? We contemplate.
Perhaps this is the reason so many thoughts from the past tend to enter your mind. That break up from an ex, that day you decided to quit/change your job, all these intense situations and feelings are products of contemplation. Because meditation fits into that atmosphere for deep contemplation, we confuse it for a time to reflect.
Keep in mind, meditation is not a time to turn your brain off, it’s a time to train it to remain in the present, with or without distractions.