Before meditation, you should always try your best to find a secluded, quiet place where you can focus on taking time for yourself. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Russell Herbert Jack, a Southland yoga expert, explains that life always finds a way to distract us, even when we have done our best to isolate ourselves. That is why self-correction is a critical skill.
A disruption during your meditation practice can leave you feeling off-kilter or even frustrated. But that doesn’t mean you can’t return to your state of calm before moving on with your day. Below, you’ll find a simple step-by-step guide on how to recover your equilibrium after an interrupted meditation.
For the most part, when it comes to a distraction during your meditation, you are presented with two options:
1. Deal with the distraction, and then return to your practice.
2. Incorporate the distraction into your practice and move forward.
Dealing with Distraction
If something unavoidable comes up, like your child with a question, your pet needing to go out, a knock on your door, or an important phone call, then you might need to stop your meditation.
STEP ONE: Engage with the new task at hand.
It’s normal to feel a bit disgruntled by this interruption. Setting aside time for yourself can already be difficult with a busy schedule, and being forced away from that dedicated space can be very frustrating. The goal in this situation is to give your full attention to whatever issue is at hand. It is unavoidable at the moment, and so you want to be mindful during this new task.
STEP TWO: Return to your meditation. Work through frustration.
When you have taken care of the task, return to your meditation and allow yourself to work through the frustration. Feel your emotions and identify how you wish to move forward.
If the distraction you’re encountering is a sensory interruption (one that doesn’t require you to move but might disrupt your thoughts), then you can incorporate it into your practice. Whether it’s a lawnmower across the street, your neighbor’s rather loud radio, or even an unpleasant scent or cold chill drifting through the room, watch it “pass” the way you might watch worries or thoughts pass when you begin your practice.
STEP ONE: Register the distraction. Incorporate it into your meditation.
Perhaps you picture clouds moving across the sky or even visually wiping the distraction away like words on a chalkboard.
STEP TWO: Allow the interruption to pass just like a disruptive thought or idea.
However you handle a normal distracting thought during meditation, you can apply that method to a new sensory interruption.
Your Response and Acceptance
When it comes down to it, the interruption only has as much power as you give it. If a person barges into your space and starts yelling, you might feel outraged. If the interruption is a buzzing housefly, you might feel frustrated. If the distraction is drizzling rain on your window, you might find a positive emotion instead of a negative one. Now, could you turn the frustrating sounds of drill across the street into the simple sounds of a woodpecker in your mind? If you choose to do so, you can.
While it’s difficult, choosing how you view the distraction you’re faced with is your ultimate weapon against an interrupted mindfulness practice. Deciding that the distraction will not derail you, accepting the interruption as a part of your practice, and choosing to move past negative emotions are key components to returning to your sense of serenity.
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack, Southland Yoga Trainer and mindfulness teacher, is based in New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights protection, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.