In the endeavour to sit and watch what is happening in you, there are a host of difficulties that will be encountered. Let’s list some of these, and see how to handle them.
Distraction by thoughts
Distraction by loss of focus
Distraction by boredom
Distraction by bodily sensations
Distraction by discomfort
A certain pattern may be apparent here: the common ground is distraction. There’s doubtless a whole lot more possible distractions not listed here that may occur. However the distraction starts, it will almost always end up in thinking…
Fortunately, there’s a also a common fix for any and all distractions: simply bring the attention back to the sensation in the body.
If necessary (and at first it may be necessary quite regularly), start again with the sensation in the hand1 and work around the body from there.
If the distractions are by thoughts, don’t worry about that. When you note that you are thinking you have already seen it and stopped the distraction, so just breathe the thoughts out, and take a breath in, do it a couple more times while breathing the thoughts out with the breath.
But again at first, you may find that you are up against a wall of thought that simply will not subside.
If that is the case, don’t struggle and fight. Take a few out and in breaths, get up, go and do something else, and return later.
Earlier I mentioned habit-breaking. If you need more energy to sustain your investigations, this is when you can start breaking those habits, for it is frequently habits that use up energy uselessly and to no real end.
This waste of energy is a very subtle thing, and each individual will have a different way of wasting their valuable energies. All I can do is list a few of the many possible energy sinks, and you can see what rings a bell for you. Note that we are talking of habits and not of activities here. It is the habitual, repeated, pointless and frequent involvement in activities that is costing excess energy, not the occasional enjoyment or practical utilisation of them.
- Playing with the mobile phone or tablet when it’s not for any purpose
- Watching 107 YouTube videos without need…
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc etc…
- Watching television, reading newspapers – for those few who do
- Watching and discussing sport
- Visiting pubs, clubs, music venues, parties…
- Discussing politics, television programs, articles in magazines
- Defending your point of view
- Picking arguments
- Correcting others’ mistaken points of view
- Having the last word…
There’s physical habits too:
- Bouncing the leg or legs up and down
- Tapping the fingers on something
- Cracking finger joints
- Playing with the hair or teeth
- Chewing a pen or pencil
- Picking the nose
- Chewing gum…
- uppers and downers
- and the rest…
All of these use up a great deal of this energy which can take some weeks to replenish.
- Excessive or inadequate consumption all puts strain on the energy sources of the body
- Try to have less interest in food for itself and more for what the body needs
- Try to focus on the food and not your mobile phone when eating…
Note again, it’s not doing these things occasionally and enjoying them, it is doing these things habitually without real purpose or need that uses up energy. Habit breaking is not particularly easy, but try some on the habits you have that you can see waste your energy — and see what results it brings.
OK I have done all that: now what?
Next, we will look at how to start to break up some much deeper habits. This will probably hurt. That’s OK.