Meditation, when the mind wanders

It’s inevitable: During meditation, your mind will roam. You may notice other sensations in the body, things happening around you, or just get lost in thought, daydreaming about the past or present, possibly judging yourself or others.

There’s nothing wrong with this — thinking is just as natural as breathing. “It’s the natural conditioning of the mind to wander,” said Ms. Brach.

When this happens, simply notice what it is you were thinking about or what was distracting you, then take a moment and pause.

You don’t need to pull your attention right back to the breath. Instead, let go of whatever it was you were thinking about, reopen your attention, then gently return your awareness to the breath, being present for each inhalation and exhalation.

“Don’t just drag the mind back to the breath,” said Ms. Brach. “Instead reopen the attention, then gently come and land again.”

After a few breaths, invariably, the mind will wander again. Don’t beat yourself up about this. It’s natural. What’s important is how we respond when it happens. Simply acknowledge whatever it is you were thinking of — without ascribing too much judgment to it, without letting it carry you away — and take a moment to come back to the present, and resume your meditation.

“Where we build our skill is in the practice of coming back,” said Ms. Brach. “Coming back again and again. Notice it — thinking — and then pause, and then come back to the present moment.”

READ MORE