An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
I’ve been thinking a lot about interruptions lately. When I meditate in the mornings, I prefer to do it at a time when I won’t be interrupted by others. Yet, even in the most protected environment, interruptions are inevitable. My mind will interrupt me far more than any ambient noise or demands from my environment.
This thought is freeing. I don’t have to worry so much about external conditions. I can meditate anywhere no matter how noisy as long as I am willing to include what is happening.
The reflexive tendency, however, is to exclude what is happening–to draw lines around what we think should be happening or should not be happening. Inclusion/exclusion requires effort and can give rise to overt or subtle stress.
When interruptions occur we can think they are interfering with our meditation but this is not really the case. It’s only an attitude, a misconception that we can change.
The goal of mindfulness practice is to monitor interruptions and to be able to work with them. The goal is not to eradicate interruptions; this is not practical. The goal is to notice and to redirect attention. In a sense, we are stitching over the small rifts in attention that occur with interruptions, whether these are internal or external.
If you really pay attention to the functioning of your mind, you might notice that no matter how chaotic your external environment is, your internal space may have even more interruptions. This is not a problem and not something wrong with your mind.
Introverts are especially prone to feeling disrupted by interruptions. It’s hard to get back into that deep track of thought or focus. The kind of “interruption mending” we do during meditation can be good practice for the other interruptions in our life–like those at work, home, and wherever life finds you.
Since interruptions are inevitable, we can make them part of our practice. Each time the mind goes somewhere else other than the present moment, instead of seeing this as a nuisance, look upon it as an opportunity to become more adept at handling interruptions.
Life will never be uninterrupted and in letting that particular hopefulness go, we can find ease in this moment.