Dealing with distractions. That’s the biggie. There are lots of tips I could give you about this topic, but the most important is: don’t give yourself a hard time.
When we’re trying to concentrate, then it is inevitable that sometimes (approximately every two seconds, if you’re like me) distracting thoughts will come along. We want them to go away and leave us in peace, so the instinct is to push them away, to set up a little battle: ‘I am such an interesting idea’ versus ‘get lost, I’m trying to meditate!’
Pushing our thoughts away simply doesn’t work: it is just focusing more attention on them and therefore giving them more power. It’s like getting into an argument with a teenager: whatever you say, they will disagree with automatically. In the same way, when we wrestle with our distractions, the more we push the harder they push back, until instead of a little distraction we find ourselves obsessing over different varieties of cat food or something equally ridiculous.
Stop fighting. Instead of giving ourselves a hard time and getting frustrated with how distracted we are, just accept that as the state of play. With that acceptance, our mind relaxes, and we’re more able to let the distraction go. Not shove it away, but just lose interest and let it drift away.
Unsurprisingly, having a relaxed attitude towards meditation makes it much more enjoyable! I remember when I first started to practice, I would try so hard, screwing my face up as I tried to force myself to concentrate, getting so frustrated when distractions took over… Eventually, I stopped judging my success by how well I had concentrated, and instead started judging my meditation on how well I had managed to not get frustrated by my lack of concentration. That was when I actually started to enjoy meditation, even though I was still hopeless at it!
So try to just relax, let go gently instead of pushing, and see if that helps your distractions to leave you in peace.
More: Weekend Retreats