One of my greatest obstacles to meditation is distraction. I’m particularly susceptible to having my mind wander off because of the drug tamoxifen that I’m taking for breast cancer, the side effects of which include difficulty with concentration and focus.
A wandering mind, however, is not limited to those with cancer medication side effects. If you meditate, you’re pretty much guaranteed to struggle with focus at some point. I use the analogy of a cave to describe what this feels like and how to deal with it.
I sit in a darkened cave, warm and comforting, the only light coming from a hole far up above, where the noisy world buzzes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but right now is the time to devote to my meditation cushion. I focus on my breath. As I sit, a thought emerges and I notice a rope hanging down from above. Before I realize it, I’ve grabbed hold of it and start climbing.
The further I climb, the easier it is and the louder the world gets. My surroundings brighten, but I’m no longer meditating. I’m actively engaged in what’s going on up above, perhaps agitated, perhaps excited. I’ve lost track of my breath.
“Drop down,” I tell myself gently. And I slide down the rope, into the welcoming darkness below, until I find my place back on my cushion in this womb of Earth. One deep breath and I’m grounded again, calm and rooted.
This experience repeats itself, like a flowing dance between the meditative breath and wandering attention. Another thought catches me and I reach for its rope, making my way back up swiftly.
“Drop down,” I tell myself again patiently. I let go and return to my place in the cave, surrounded by the supportive darkness. Another deep breath and I’m calm again.
So many thoughts, so many tempting opportunities to climb out of my cave too soon. Some days, I swing from rope to rope, only hovering over my cushion, never quite managing to ground myself. On other days, it’s easier and the path to a peaceful meditation session is straightforward. The darkness of the cave soothes me and reminds me that I am safe, and that I can choose whether or not to cling to a thought.
My distraction is a constant, but that doesn’t matter as long as I can drop back down. And I can always drop back down.
5 thoughts on ““Dropping Down”: A Meditation Analogy”
I’ve found I am only able to meditate at night, in bed. It helps me to fall asleep, but I notice way less distractions (I tend to think more during the day). Id like to be able to teach myself daytime, so that I can sit on the side of a lake or Creek or even a mountain overlook.
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Yes, it’s definitely more peaceful at night – although I tend to fall asleep during my meditation. That’s great for sleeping but problematic for practicing meditation. Early mornings, before anyone else is up (even the sun!), are great…as long as I’ve gotten enough sleep. Not so fun with a groggy head. One of the best daytime meditations that I’ve done was sitting by a koi pond. 🙂 Thanks for commenting! I’m still so happy that your scans were so good! ❤️
wonderfully these skillful ways
allow maintenance of focus
on those precious tasks at hand!
may you successfully continue
being well & happy 🙂
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Thank you so much, David! Wishing you joy and peace! 😊🤗