Thursday, September 29, 2005


This morning I found a book I had forgotten I have. It's called Teach Yourself Meditation and it's by James Hewitt. Hewitt discusses methods of meditation found in all the major religious traditions. Here is what he has to say about distractions:

Your attitude to distractions of all kinds should be passive. The attention is poised lightly on the meditation object [support]. Inevitably it will wander. As soon as you are aware of the shift, gently, without fuss, bother, or irritation, bring attention back on to the object. Even if this has to be done many times, the return should always be gentle and unhurried.
When Dr. Herbert Benson sought out the components of meditation that bring out the Relaxation Response, he came to the view that "a passive attitude" was the most important of them.

With practice, the return of the attention to the meditation object becomes automatic and effortless. It is rather like being carried down a smoothly flowing river by canoe. Now and again the canoe moves off course and you have to dip the paddle into the water to keep the canoe on course, poised and perfectly balanced, at the very center of the flow.

I think Hewitt makes an important point when he says we are to return to the meditation support "without fuss, bother, or irritation". We need to consider it normal to have distractions and not make ourselves failures because of being distracted. That's why I like the phrase, "accept without judgment". This keeps the meditative process open and spacious.

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