Does this look familiar?😉
On average, we have between 50 - 70 thousand thoughts a day, so it's not uncommon for all kinds of thoughts, sensations, and emotions to bubble up during our practice. As a matter of fact, when we shine the attentional spotlight on our thoughts, we might be surprised by what we notice! The skill is in not stopping thoughts (which is impossible), but rather in letting these thoughts come and go, and choosing to gently return our attention to the object of our meditation. Over and over again. That is how we build our mindfulness muscle.
Distracting thoughts, sounds, and sensations during meditation is a very common experience and a part of the learning process. Here are some ways you can minimise their impact:
1. If you need to deal with something particularly urgent or important, try to do it before you start meditating, that way your mind can be at rest during your practice.
2. Turn off your devices or switch them to airplane mode.
3. Let the people around you know that you are not to be disturbed for the next few minutes, and close the door if you can. (When you're done meditating, be sure to thank them for honouring your time and privacy).
4. When a thought does pop up, see if you can take a step back and observe the thought, rather than engage with it or pursue it. Treat it as if you were watching a cloud floating across the sky.
5. Welcome the thought when it happens with a gentle curiosity. Noticing the thought, releasing it, and kindly let it go.
6. Be patient. Remember, the aim is not to stop thinking, but to notice when thinking is happening and gently return your attention to your breathing. It may not feel like a whole lot is happening, but with consistent practice over time you'll start to notice positive changes in your mood, attitude, and how you respond to stress.