Day 20: HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT MY MEDITATION!
The key to good meditation, no matter what’s going on around you.
By this stage, I hope you’re really enjoying your meditation time – and perhaps even looking forward to it each day. Those ten minutes are special time – ‘you’ time; your de-stress & ‘tune in’ time.
So when something interrupts our meditation time, it’s easy to get even more irritated than we normally would. Whether it’s the kids yelling, our partner bashing and crashing in the background, loud music from next door, cars racing past, it doesn’t matter. Those interruptions can feel like a huge deal when you want to meditate.
That’s when it’s time to remember the three keys to meditation:
- Focused concentration
Acceptance is in there for a good reason!
Not many of us have the advantage of being able to go to a retreat centre every day, to sit somewhere in a soundproofed room that’s completely comfortable and just the right temperature, with no aches or pains anywhere in the body, and a quiet mind, before we start meditating. It’s quite a shopping list of pre-requisites, isn’t it?
So, at some point in your meditation practice, you’re going to need to learn how to accept what’s going on outside – and inside – to be able to experience results from your meditation. And the sooner you work on ‘acceptance’, the easier you will find meditating.
(Just imagine the impact this could have on the rest of your life!)
In practical terms this is why it’s so important to allow yourself that space to settle and relax, at the beginning of a meditation. That’s why we take the time to accept the aches and the pains of the body, if there are any; to accept the sounds around you; to accept what the room feels like; to accept those itches and niggles that crop up during your meditation time.
Then, when you’ve relaxed and accepted your environment, body and mind, you can more easily move into your state of focused concentration. Accepting an outside interruption is no different to accepting an internal thought. It comes and it goes. It only throws your meditation practice if you engage with it and allow it to.
I remember where I did my formal meditation teacher training, up in an amazing centre in North Wales (www.DruWorldwide.com), and it had an extra-special ‘acceptance-tester’ for us trainee meditators. The Dru team live in the most beautiful Welsh valley in Northern Snowdonia, but there are regular fighter jet low-level flight practice runs along the valley.
Imagine the scenario: you’re sitting there, in absolute stillness, and then suddenly the sound of a roaring fighter jet comes racing past at what feels like roof level. The first few times I was there, it used to jerk me out of my meditation. I would start getting grumpy and feeling irritated, thinking, “But I just got relaxed and I just focused and it’s not fair!” (Cue a toys-pram-throwing tantrum moment!).
And my meditation master used to tell a story of a time when he ran a taster course for parents at a school.
The parents had been getting very distracted and they’d been shuffling and fidgeting, during their meditations. Whenever there were sounds around them, he really noticed that most of them had lost their concentration and focus.
So he taught them how to accept; he allowed them to practise, he explained how to let go of the interruptions; and they made good progress.
Then, in one session, there was a fire alarm. He knew there wasn’t a practice scheduled for that day, so he opened his eyes and looked round the room. But nobody was moving. He kept looking, still nobody was moving. Everybody was in such a state of acceptance that they were able to ignore the fire alarm.
Of course, he had to bring them all up from their meditative state and get them out of the place! But it was a beautiful demonstration of how well they had managed to relax, accept distractions and move into that focused concentration space.
And I learned from that story.
Once I really practised acceptance, the sound of the jet plane came and went, without dislodging me from my stillness. People could cough and sneeze in the room, without me getting irritated. My body could send me aches and itchy moments, without me needing to intervene. I no longer needed to tell myself a grumpy story about it. I didn’t hang on to it. I didn’t really notice it any more. I just got on with meditating.
So, if a distraction comes up when you’re meditating, if the phone goes, if the kids are shouting, if a dog barks, if next door is slamming a car door, that’s ok; use it as a chance to practise acceptance. How about choosing to feel grateful for it, rather than irritated?
It is how it is. And that’s ok.
And just imagine the knock on effect this will have in the rest of your life!
Got any insights or questions on this topic? How are you handling interruptions? Here’s a special discussion thread in the online community where you can share your experiences and see how others are getting on:
Day 20 Affirmation
I use each interruption as a chance to practise acceptance.
I hope you are enjoying your week 3 meditation.
P. S. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at how to handle the ‘old emotional stuff’ that regular meditation can bring up.
P.S. The key links you need for week three are:
Week 3 Meditation: