Re: Dealing With Distractions in Meditation
- This is why i appreci-love this forum. These practical and sensible techniques are a path toward the sublime ONE.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, medit8ionsociety <no_reply@...> wrote:
> An excerpt from Mindfulness In Plain English
> By Ven. Henepola Gunaratana
> When we speak of a distraction in Insight Meditation,
> we are speaking of any preoccupation that pulls the
> attention off the breath. This brings up a new, major
> rule for your meditation: When any mental state arises
> strongly enough to distract you from the object of
> meditation, switch your attention to the distraction
> briefly. Make the distraction a temporary object of
> meditation. Please note the word temporary. It's quite
> important. We are not advising that you switch horses
> in midstream. We do not expect you to adopt a whole new
> object of meditation every three seconds. The breath
> will always remain your primary focus. You switch your
> attention to the distraction only long enough to notice
> certain specific things about it. What is it? How strong
> is it? and, how long does it last? As soon as you have
> wordlessly answered these questions, you are through
> with your examination of that distraction, and you return
> your attention to the breath. Here again, please note
> the operant term, wordlessly. These questions are not
> an invitation to more mental chatter. That would be moving
> you in the wrong direction, toward more thinking. We want
> you to move away from thinking, back to a direct, wordless
> and nonconceptual experience of the breath. These
> questions are designed to free you from the distraction
> and give you insight into its nature, not to get you more
> thoroughly stuck in it. They will tune you in to what
> is distracting you and help you get rid of it--all in one step.
> Here is the problem: When a distraction, or any mental
> state, arises in the mind, it blossoms forth first in
> the unconscious. Only a moment later does it rise to
> the conscious mind. That split-second difference is quite
> important, because it is time enough for grasping to
> occur. Grasping occurs almost instantaneously, and it
> takes place first in the unconscious. Thus, by the time
> the grasping rises to the level of conscious recognition,
> we have already begun to lock on to it. It is quite natural
> for us to simply continue that process, getting more and
> more tightly stuck in the distraction as we continue to
> view it. We are, by this time, quite definitely thinking
> the thought, rather than just viewing it with bare
> attention. The whole sequence takes place in a flash.
> This presents us with a problem. By the time we become
> consciously aware of a distraction we are already, in a
> sense, stuck in it. Our three questions are a clever
> remedy for this particular malady. In order to answer
> these questions, we must ascertain the quality of the
> distraction. To do that, we must divorce ourselves from
> it, take a mental step back from it, disengage from it,
> and view it objectively. We must stop thinking the thought
> or feeling the feeling in order to view it as an object of inspection. This very process is an exercise in mindfulness: uninvolved, detached awareness. The hold of the distraction
> is thus broken, and mindfulness is back in control. At this
> point, mindfulness makes a smooth transition back to its
> primary focus and we return to the breath.
> When you first begin to practice this technique, you
> will probably have to do it with words. You will ask your
> questions in words, and get answers in words. It won't
> be long, however, before you can dispense with the
> formality of words altogether. Once the mental habits
> are in place, you simply note the distraction, note the
> qualities of the distraction, and return to the breath.
> It's a totally nonconceptual process, and it's very quick.
> The distraction itself can be anything: a sound, a
> sensation, an emotion, a fantasy, anything at all.
> Whatever it is, don't try to repress it. Don't try to
> force it out of your mind. There's no need for that. Just
> observe it mindfully with bare attention. Examine the
> distraction wordlessly and it will pass away by itself.
> You will find your attention drifting effortlessly back
> to the breath. And do not condemn yourself for having
> been distracted. Distractions are natural. They come and
> they go.
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