There are some days when meditation seems impossible. Even if you’ve been practicing for a long time and you have a solid routine. The idea of quieting your mind right now, this very moment? Not happening.

When we experience an inability to meditate, we might take it personally. Why is this so hard for ME? What happened to MY discipline? What is wrong with ME that I can’t sustain MY focus? 

In these frustrating moments, we might be tempted to give up and try again later, but there is still something we can practice.

Think of how it looks to meditate with ease – what’s going on there? We’re noticing any thoughts that enter our mind and we’re depersonalizing them. We’re not saying “That’s MY thought – I’ve got to hold onto it.” Instead, we’re saying “That’s a thought – I’ll observe it and let it pass.”

Likewise, when we find that we can’t meditate, there’s always something we can do. We can depersonalize our inability to meditate. We can stop thinking that this inability is ours. We can stop taking credit for the inability. We can stop assigning blame to ourselves.

To facilitate the relinquishment of self-blame, we can imagine that there’s an essential force within us, call it “The Distractor.” The Distractor is to blame.

The Distractor is the force that makes us seek new experiences. The Distractor is the force that makes us want to get up, move around, do something different. The force that makes us impatient. The force that makes us want to mix things up.

If we did not each possess a Distractor living inside us, we’d likely not survive. The Distractor can save our lives. But sometimes it does too much for us – more than we want.

When we can’t meditate, we might be tempted to think, “I am responsible for my own poor concentration. It’s nobody’s fault but mine that I’m so easily distractible.”

To absolve ourselves of guilt might feel wrong, but why not try it? Blame The Distractor instead. “The Distractor is hard at work today. The Distractor is full of energy.”

Now we can sit back and watch the Distractor do its thing. 

If we can observe poor concentration without blaming ourselves for it, then we are practicing the same depersonalization of mental phenomena that characterizes “successful” meditation. We’re accepting the inability to meditate and finding a way to meditate nevertheless. ■

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