At the end of my guided meditation, the voice says, “Let go of the focus on your breath and let your mind be free.”
Pretty much every day, my reaction is, “Way ahead of you, man.”
My mind has been wandering all over the place while I’m “supposed” to be focusing on my breath.
I can be pretty hard on myself about it, actually: “What’s wrong with you, seriously??”
Then I listened to a podcast where someone explained that the idea of meditation is to actually practice bringing your focus back. No matter how long it takes you to notice that your mind has wandered, it hasn’t wandered so far that you can’t bring it back.
The practice is just that: a practice.
I thought I was practicing focus, keeping my mind still, focusing on the breath. But actually I’m practicing something more like mindfulness, where I notice when I’ve drifted off and bring it back. Over and over again.
It’s supposed to be this way!
Some days it’s “better” than others. I’ve gone a couple weeks where I’m basically just sitting there daydreaming for 15-20 minutes because I can’t get it together.
But the important thing is that I’m practicing.
What that guy in the podcast said really helped me be patient with myself. It immediately changed my perspective during meditation and took the pressure off. Not surprisingly, this improved my ability to focus, to notice when I’d drifted off, and to bring my mind back.
Or, as the Dalai Lama said, in How to See Yourself as You Really Are: “We are practicing sitting meditation, and we see a bowl of tomato soup in our mind’s eye, so we think that is wrong practice, because we are supposed to be mindful of our breathing. But if we practice mindfulness, we will say, ‘I am breathing in and I am thinking about tomato soup.’ That is Right Mindfulness already.”
Also. Note to self: be kind to me.