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My mind refuses to sit still

Learn how thinking and other distractions help us develop mindfulness

Do you sit to practice but your mind refuses to sit still with you? Maybe you get frustrated that you can't stop thinking when you meditate or, worry that you aren’t doing it properly as your mind keeps wandering away.

Unless you've been told otherwise, you probably think that when people meditate they have an empty mind. That they have managed to stop thought in its tracks and are sitting in blissful silence.

It is the exact opposite. The attention may not settle on the object of your practice, the mind wanders away and you get lost in thought.

A wandering mind is normal

I assure you this is very normal. This is what minds do. Some minds may do it less than others and sometimes there may be a little more stillness and space between thoughts but all minds wander.

Mind wandering is not a problem during meditation. It only becomes a problem if we think it is.

It's helpful to remember that the aim of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation practice isn’t to empty our minds or stop thinking. It is simply about being here now.

Being present and available to meet our experience as it arises in each moment. And it is here, in this moment, that we may find the peace we might be seeking.

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! (The Guest House, Jelaluddin Rumi)

Thinking is the equipment

We need our minds to wander to provide the practice; to show us when we are not attending to the present. When we are doing rather than being. A skill we are developing is knowing when we are lost in thought, when we have become fused with thinking. If thoughts didn’t appear we would not have anything to practice with.

It's like using equipment at the gym to develop our strength. We're developing our attention and discernment muscles so we need something to build them with. Thoughts and other distractions are our equipment.

In that moment when you realise you're distracted, you've returned to your current experience. The more times it happens, the more times you get to practice - lucky you.

Bring it on

So allow the thoughts and distractions to come. Acknowledge them when they arise and then re-attend to the object of your practice, whether that be breath, bodily sensations, movement, sounds etc.

What else can we do when they're going to come anyways?

Being open to whatever arises in our practice teaches us to allow things to be as they are, to let go of expectations and to suspend judgement.

How freeing.

Take care of you.

We discuss all aspects of meditation and mindfulness in my drop-in meditation sessions and 6 week Bring Mindfulness to Life course. I'd love to see you there.


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