What are the wrong beliefs about meditation
How you will never be disturbed again while meditating
To be disturbed while meditating is uncomfortable. In one moment we feel calm and focused inward and in the next moment we are literally thrown out of meditation. Perhaps the postman rings, a family member walks into the room, or some other unexpected sensation occurs.
In the worst case, it can ensure that the previous calm turns into a very uncomfortable restlessness, almost stress. That was the case with one of my first meditations.
I was completely focused on my breath - or I was trying to be focused - and then my mother stormed into the room. When she saw that I was meditating, she apologized and left quickly.
After that I felt completely confused. I was fidgety and couldn't find rest for a few minutes - either physically or mentally. It was very uncomfortable. But why did this restlessness occur after I was disturbed while meditating? At that time I couldn't think of a plausible answer, but now I know:
I was convinced that it would bother me. It was this belief that generated the disturbance and the associated unrest, not the event itself.
Before I started meditating, I was soaking up all sorts of things about meditation, probably like you. I just didn't want to go wrong. The articles I read and the videos I watched kept mentioning the importance of not being disturbed while meditating. It wasn't really explained - or I just didn't understand it - but I accepted this belief for myself anyway; it kind of made sense.
When my mother came into my room, my mind reacted immediately according to this conviction: "Oh no, I mustn't be disturbed while meditating, that's bad." And what happened? It bothered me. Extreme. But not because it is fundamentally annoying when someone comes into the room, but because I was convinced that it would interfere with my meditation and me.
So what is the solution to this problem?
Internal and external disorders
First we have to understand that basically EVERYTHING can be perceived as a disturbance. If you want, you can even get distracted and disturbed by breathing while meditating. It's all a question of your own attitude and point of view.
We can roughly distinguish between internal and external disturbances. External disturbances are things that happen outside of our mind and body; like my mother who stormed into the room. Noises, smells and climatic influences are also included.
Inner disorders are usually more subtle and less easy to locate. Sometimes they hide or pretend to be something they are not. For example, an inner restlessness can be expressed in the form of physical heat or cold. They can also have an emotional impact. Such internal disturbances can be really tricky. But how do we best deal with them?
How to deal with meditation disruptions
The answer is: not at all. Not dealing with them and not reacting to them is the easiest way to deal with them. Only when we no longer want to get rid of it do we get rid of it. That means: only when we no longer label a sensation as a disorder and condemn it as such will it no longer bother us.
That might sound impossible at first. In the beginning, a disruption is a disruption and telling us something else is nonsense. But with a little practice we can get used to perceiving disturbances differently; in such a way that they are no longer annoying.
Watch our reaction
The most important thing is that we observe our first instinctive reaction as soon as a disturbance occurs. What do we think and what do we feel? How do we feel about the disruption? It is quite likely that we have an underlying dislike for them and want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Realizing that is crucial. Only when we objectively observe our reaction and can honestly admit ourselves do we have the opportunity to change it.
Our first unconscious reaction is based on the beliefs and beliefs that we have accumulated throughout our lives. In accordance with our past experiences, we also react now to impressions and experiences.
When we consciously observe this pattern, there is a gap between the impulse and our response to it. Through this gap we can pause again and check whether we even want to react as we would now. Is the external or internal perception disturbing at all? Or is it our reaction that decides HOW something is?
Check our beliefs
When we watch our reactions, sooner or later we will be confronted with our beliefs. Because subconsciously we always act according to the image we have of ourselves and of the world. If we tell ourselves that the honking of a car is annoying and distracts us from meditating, it will do just that. However, if we do not have such a conviction, then the honking is perceived briefly and neutrally, but without having any influence on us.
Finding out what our basic beliefs are is therefore very useful; generally for our personal development, but above all for our meditation practice.
Establishing our beliefs is not difficult. They accompany us throughout the day. In every situation and relationship, our deep beliefs come to light. Viewing and analyzing ourselves as a person from a certain distance can therefore be very instructive.
To find out our beliefs about meditating and disturbing impressions, we can simply sit down with pen and paper and ask ourselves a few questions. It is important that we are totally honest with ourselves, even if it is uncomfortable. The writing never has to be read by anyone and can then be destroyed.
Possible questions are for example:
- What is bothering me while meditating? Write down anything that might be bothering you.
- Why does it bother me? Find out why it bothers you. What other beliefs of yours is attacked by the disorder?
- Does it have to bother me? That is perhaps the best question. Does the experience have to bother you or can you just accept it?
There are many other possible questions you can use to get creative with yourself. You can go deeper with them step by step and find out more about yourself and the way you think and react.
Make everything part of the meditation
After observing our own reactions and figuring out our beliefs, we usually find that nothing has to bother us. Nothing is disturbing by itself, but is only made into it by thinking. The process from the first impulse to our reaction often seems to be extremely quick and impossible to interrupt at the beginning. But with practice we can slow it down and let it become fully conscious.
Then we have the opportunity to no longer react to any experience in such a way that it disturbs us. Unpleasant sensations will keep recurring, but we are no longer so attached to them and can accept them indifferently. Ultimately, they become part of our meditation and completely included in our attention.
We can also practice this consciously. Whenever something occurs that at first distracts us and appears to be disturbing, we can simply make it the object of our meditation. It is only when there is a separation between what is and what we would like to have that there is a disturbance. However, if we accept it and invite it to our meditation, then nothing can disturb us while meditating.
Dealing with disturbing thoughts
Maybe you know the phenomenon: You sit down to meditate and suddenly there are a lot more thoughts than there are before. Instead of emptying your mind and settling into calm, meditation seems to do just the opposite. Many beginners think this is a problem and that meditation is not doing them well.
In reality, meditation no longer generates thoughts. However, all the thoughts come to the surface that are otherwise neglected. All the thoughts were always there, but we just never became conscious of them.
Some of these thoughts can be very disturbing, maybe even distressing, and just downright negative. “How can I think that? What is wrong with me?" I have often asked myself these questions and tried to get rid of negative thoughts. But that's exactly where the crux lies.
We don't get rid of the thoughts by pushing them away. There is no point in forcibly switching them off or suppressing them. Then we just hide them again in the dark corner of our minds from which they came.
If we really want to get free from them, we have to give them the space to show themselves. They want to be seen and we have to make that possible for them. That doesn't mean we live it out. But on the contrary. It is said that we look at them objectively for what they are: thoughts. Clouds that go by. No more and no less.
It's up to us, but ...
The fact that nothing is inherently disturbing does not mean that while meditating we should specifically expose ourselves to what is (still) disturbing us. Every now and then we can do this to widen our tolerance of what we find bothersome. However, our daily meditation practice should still create a quiet and friendly space for us in which we feel comfortable.
As far as possible, we should therefore prepare and plan our meditation in such a way that we can turn very carefully to what is happening to us. This is when meditation is most fun and fulfills its purpose.
However, when a disturbing experience arises, we shouldn't judge or want to get rid of it. We can simply include them in our meditation and let them work completely on us. Most of the time, it's the things we don't like that tell us the most about ourselves.
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