Day 7 • Distraction Meditation

Lesson Progress:

Day 7 Meditation

Thoughts are like clouds moving through the sky. Some are very light and fluffy looking, very inviting. Others are quite ominous and threatening. Regardless of the form they take, all of these thoughts are not the breath, so you can just let them go. Our habitual tendency is to grab on to a thought, build an entire world around it, or push it away, struggle against it. Here we stay even, balanced, calm. We simply recognize, ‘it’s not the breath’.

This week has been devoted to exploring concentration. The ability to stabilize our attention, recapture some of our scattered energy, enhance our ability to let go gently. And with kindness towards ourselves, begin again, over and over again. It’s a useful time to look back and reflect on your experience. What was especially interesting or surprising for you these past seven days?

As we move onward in the Challenge, remember that you have access to these lessons until the end of April, so there is ample time to return to the lessons you’d like to work with more.

 

Daily Inspiration

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Daily Tip

Here’s an anchoring exercise you can use if your mind is wandering and following your breath isn’t helping: become aware of your body’s touch points: the small areas, about the size of a quarter, where your back, thighs, knees, or buttocks are in contact with the chair or cushion, your hand is in contact with your knee, your lips are touching, your ankles are crossed. In the small gap between your in-breath and out-breath, focus on these points of contact; picture them, feel them. Doing so may pull you away from your spiraling thoughts and bring you back to this moment, this breath.

 

Question & Answer

Q: When I’m sitting and feel stiffness in my knees, should I adjust my posture, or just keep focusing on my breathing?

A: To start, make sure you’re not sitting in a position that strains your body. If the discomfort gets too intrusive, you should change position, maybe sit differently. You could be uncomfortable in the new, unfamiliar position you’re assuming. What sometimes happens to people new to meditation is that in the silence and stillness of sitting, you suddenly become aware of aches and twinges that you always have but don’t notice during your busy, active day. Also, deeply held tension can surface when you start clearing your mind and focusing on body sensations. If you find that you’re fighting the pain, hating it, it’s better to change your posture and begin again as though it’s a new sitting.

 

Today's Blog

  • Day 7 — Distraction   Posted by Darlene on Feb 7, 2019

    Today’s meditation worked really well for me.  When Sharon said, “When a thought arises that’s strong enough to take your attention away from the breath, simply note it as not breath.  It’s not the breath and you can recognize it Read More

  • 7th day   Posted by Cher on Feb 7, 2019

    I am thrilled that I’ve been able to mediate 7 days in a row, but I know these have been very short, and don’t compare to the meditations I do with my dharma class. I’m very hopeful though that I Read More

  • #RealHappinessChallenge Day 7   Posted by SueB on Feb 7, 2019

    I know the meditation today from @SharonSalzberg is listed as Day 8 -and maybe I’ve miscounted, but I thought it was 7.  So day 7/day 8 – doesn’t really matter – what matter’s is today was walking meditation.  I remember Read More

  • Day 6 & 7   Posted by TaraB on Feb 7, 2019

    Sometimes life gets in the way.  Sometimes – if we’re really lucky – vacation gets in the way.  I escaped the ice and snow of Canada and flew to Costa Rica yesterday, and wifi was in short supply, so there Read More

  • Day 7 Distraction Meditation   Posted by Mar Leahy on Feb 7, 2019

    This exercise is very helpful in guiding me to practice being nonjudgmental with my distracted thoughts during meditation.  I felt like I was able to finally get to a quiet place and focus on my breathing.  I wasn’t fighting or Read More

Click here for more blog posts

 

Meditation Transcript

Welcome back. Today, we’ll be working with how we let go of distractions. In this meditation you can sit comfortably or lie down. Close your eyes or if you’re keeping them open just find a spot in front of you to rest your gaze. Center your attention on the feeling of the in and out breath, at the nostrils, at the chest or at the abdomen. Just the normal natural breath. As you feel the sensations of the breath you can make a very quiet mental notation of breath, breath. With the in breath, with the out breath.

When a thought arises that’s strong enough to take your attention away from the breath, simply note it as not breath. It’s not the breath and you can recognize it in just that way. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most beautiful thought in the world or the most terrible thought in the world, the one you would never disclose to anybody else. It’s simply not the breath. You don’t have to judge yourself. You don’t have to get lost in a thought or elaborate it, you recognize it’s not the breath. Very gently let go and bring your attention back to the feeling of the breath. It’s breath and not breath.

Some of your thoughts may be tender, caring, some may be cruel, hurtful. But there’s simply not the breath. See them, recognize them, let them go. Bring your attention back to the feeling of the breath. The thoughts are like clouds moving through the sky. Some are very light and fluffy looking, very inviting. Some are quite ominous and threatening but they’re not the breath, just let them go. Our habitual tendency is to grab on to a thought, build an entire world around it or push it away, struggle against it. Here we stay even, balanced, calm. We simply recognize it’s not the breath. Very gently let it go. Bring your attention back one breath at a time.

And when you feel ready you can open your eyes and relax. This week has been devoted to exploring concentration. The ability to stabilize our attention, recapture some of our scattered energy, enhance our ability to let go gently. And with kindness towards ourselves, begin again, over and over again. It’s a useful time to look back and reflect on your experience. What was especially interesting or surprising for you?

The 2019 Real Happiness Challenge is sponsored by Happify. Happify offers Science-based activities and games to reduce stress and worry.

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