Anyone who has practiced meditation knows the effect of the “Monkey Mind” where one’s mind jumps around from one idea to another like a monkey jumping from one branch in a tree to another. This is an excerpt from an article from Wildmind gives some practical advice on how to train your mind to improve your practice. The first principle in this article is to learn how to recognize when your mind begins to wander.
Faith and Discipline (week 1 of 3)
“Most of those who have difficulties are not disciplined enough in the way they work in meditation, and a measured amount of discipline each day can make the process easier and more enjoyable. For example, you can set yourself the task of shortening the time it takes you to notice when your mind wanders off. At the start of each practice, form an intention to catch yourself as soon as possible each time your mind wanders. If you consciously decide to do this every day for a week, a positive inclination to acting in this way will develop. Your skill in noticing your attention wandering will increase and your concentration will benefit. Taking on a task like this is within your ability and if it succeeds it will increase your confidence, interest and engagement. It will make the practice feel more your own.”
I don’t totally agree that one week of extra focus will make much difference. I have been practicing standing meditation daily for more than that and I don’t think that I have noticed much change in my ability to notice when my mind wanders off. I think that it takes more time for people with active, or jumpy, minds like mine. I have difficulty concentrating anyway. I have started meditation practice to try to improve that.
I do expect to be able to notice a difference in the near future. I may be getting hung up on the physical difficulties of the standing part of the meditation. That part is getting better with time.
This is the first of 3 parts. Next week, I will post more of the article. This will give suggestions for the second week of Meditation Practice and Improvement.
© 2010 Eric Borreson