It’s interesting to consider the level of interaction we have with ourselves during this “magic moment” of realizing our thoughts have wandered away from the object of meditation. For me, this amounts to literally a fraction of a second in real time. Today’s exercise brought me to the edge of that cliff and asked me to really look down to carefully observe what silent discourse takes place in my head. I find it curious that I can manage to be so thoroughly self-critical in such a short amount of time. Talk about efficient!
After recognizing this, my physical reaction took the form of a gentle sigh, kind of like a breath to reset, but one that felt soft and compassionate. Maybe the corners of my mouth even lifted a tiny bit to emphasize (read: force) positive feelings in that moment (does anyone else smile during meditation?). This physical reset helped me to reconnect with the softness I was trying to maintain during this practice.
In spite of Sharon’s reminder that it doesn’t matter to where our attention has wandered at these times, I couldn’t help but notice that in most instances my attention had become stuck on thoughts about other areas in my life in which I am also self-critical. For example, I found myself running through the shortlist of phone calls I said I would make yesterday and did not for whatever reason, which in turn makes me feel like I manage my time poorly. I also caught myself envisioning the yoga class that I’m attending a few hours from now and wondering whether or not my achy body will be able to keep up with the teacher’s instruction, which makes me feel physically inferior – not even to other people – but to some better, imagined version of myself. And in realizing I had wandered into these self-critical areas, I bring my attention back with self-criticism.
Very meta, but not very metta, if you catch my drift.