In the beginning of meditation practices, your mind will often wander, spinning out thoughts about the past and future. This is quite normal; But what should you do when it happens?
1. When you catch yourself thinking, silently say the mental note “thinking” for a moment or two, and then gently return your attention to the primary meditation object you were observing.
3. Be patient with yourself and understand that it’s the nature of the mind to think, so training it to stay in the present moment and just know takes time.
4. Actually, if you are aware the mind has wandered it means you are being mindful. If you didn’t have mindfulness, you wouldn’t know the mind had drifted away. In daily life, we’re unaware how distracted and agitated our minds truly are. Only when making an effort to meditate can we see the full extent of the mind’s restlessness as it jumps from one thought to the next.
5. Don’t go back to find the spot where you lost mindfulness or try to reconstruct the links in the cognitive chain. You can’t bring those past moments back in order to acknowledge them. Let them go and start over again from this moment.
6. One reason the mind easily wanders off on tangents is that we tend to believe wholeheartedly in the content of our thoughts, and so whenever a thought arises we get mesmerized by its “story.” We may not think of ourselves as people who are easily fooled, but this is one area in which most of us are completely gullible, especially when the thought carries an emotional charge. When pleasant thoughts appear we get caught up in the fantasies, fueled by desire. When unpleasant memories arise we focus on how we were wronged, getting more and more upset. Whether the content of the thought is pleasant or unpleasant, we tend to assume it has substance instead of recognizing that it’s just an empty vibration arising and passing away During practice meditators should try to ignore the content of their thoughts completely. It doesn’t matter whether a thought is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant; the conventional meaning is irrelevant in meditation. The attitude is to look upon all thoughts as general instances of “thinking,” without paying attention to the details that differentiate one thought from another.