Having a Difficult Time Concentrating?
Even if you’ve been practicing meditation for years, there may be occasions where it is really difficult to sit still and concentrate.
You wake up early, light your incense, read a favorite passage, and then the thought comes, “I am such a spiritual person. I am going to meditate for 20 minutes today.” You smile, assume your posture, and close your eyes. Then you are bombarded by thoughts and images. You become restless. You begin to judge yourself, “Maybe I’m not so spiritual after all.” You push the thought away and decide to stay with it. Time passes, the thought comes, “Maybe I’m not such a bad meditator, â€˜yes’ I can do this.” You open your eyes, look at the clock, and what you think has been 20 or 30 minutes, has really only been 5 minutes. The thought comes, “Crap!”
You expect that with each hour, week, and year, you would be getting better and going deeper into your spiritual practice. The truth is, is that if you are consistent you are definitely growing. But even the most consistent spiritual practice will not save you from becoming frustrated with your practice, with god, or with yourself. The problem is focusing on “progress” instead of “process.”
Striving in your meditation practice that is, trying to be better, go deeper, or sit unperturbed for a certain amount of time, actually impedes your “progress.” In fact, you should not be thinking in terms of “progress” at all when practicing meditation. Rather your focus is to just be natural, to do nothing, to watch the breath, to listen to the birds or the traffic, to feel the heart beating in the chest, to visualize a lovely golden light, to feel the aliveness within and around you, in other words, to just be.
Being is about process, it’s about showing up for your practice, it’s about expression, it’s about being fully awake right now to what is right in front of you even if what is happening right now, is not all that pleasant.
It is very important not to allow any feelings of discouragement or frustration to keep you from your practice. When you find it difficult to concentrate or sit still, tell yourself that it is temporary, that the restlessness will pass, and just stay put! If you have given yourself 20 minutes for your practice, but you are only able to “meditate” for 8, then just sit for the other 12 minutes and look out the window or watch the clock.
May every day be a blessing to you!