What to do When the Postman Knocks

A knock at the door, a ringing, vibrating phone or an important, forgotten item now remembered –  all just as we have begun to sit for our morning meditation.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is a bit of a test.

A test of commitment, perhaps a test of resolve, absolutely a test of will power and resilience.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the myriad of distractions, large and small, that can arise when we have begun to sit.

Sitting with others who are also meditating helps a lot, but not all of us have that option all of the time. Preparation can help eliminate some disruptions and turning off one’s devices certainly helps.

Can we welcome distractions with some equanimity? So that addressing them does not take any more energy or create more disruption than necessary.  In this way we experience ripples, not waves.

Our ever active brains churn out one distraction after another.  In most cases, these are fleeting throw-away thoughts and wonderings that are best given no more energy than passing clouds. This might take a bit of practice and there are simple techniques for success.

Sometimes a particular thought may be important enough that it is best not ignored lest it be forgotten again. With a bit of discipline, being prepared with a pen and notepad is all it takes to record the item, set it aside for the moment and get back to sitting.

Then there are the mental movements driven by anxiety, fear or more deeply held emotions.  How one goes about navigating these encounters can make all of the difference. The issues or trauma at the root of these movements can be challenging in the moment. They also require time and guidance to find the space and internal resources to understand what may be needed to move through them or accept them. Self-compassion and care certainly comes into the process.

When encountering a new worry or one that has visited previously, try asking whatever it is to wait for your meditation period to conclude or ask if you can spend time with it later in the day. It can be helpful to make a note of the issue and your agreement with it so you can be sure to keep your appointment with it. This is subtle and, it too, can take a bit of practice.

Remember, it is important, for a few reasons, when making such a commitment that you honor it like you would an agreement with a partner or child or a friend. Building and maintaining trust with oneself is very important and should not be underestimated.  It builds integrity and character that will further engender a fundamental heartfelt safety with self.

For more on this topic, see my next post about “Tea and Conversation”.

Les Breeland teaches individual and group meditation classes.  
If you are interested in more information or are curious to deepen your own meditation practice, contact Les.


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