Gratitude helps shut down distractions during meditation

I had to get away from it for a while, so I forgot how good the book Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas is. I tend to be more interested in the science behind mindfulness and meditation (as opposed to specific religions and their rituals), and as a result, from my own practice I can confirm the last sentence in this paragraph from that book. (See the attached image.)

Depending on the day, and especially the time of day, the first 5-10 minutes of any meditation session are the hardest for me, because it takes a while to get my mind to settle down. Since I learned this practice, I do settle down more quickly.

There’s also a phrase I read in the book Turning The Mind Into An Ally that is very helpful. As you’re getting ready to meditate, explicitly say out loud to yourself, “And now I am placing my mind upon the breath.” This helps set your intention and your focus, and I also find it calming.

On a related note, it helps me to put a time limit on this last statement, so I say something like, “For just the next 30 minutes, I will focus my mind upon the breath,” something like that. It’s almost like my brain hears that and calms down, thinking, “Oh, okay, I can begin worrying about everything again in 31 minutes. So I’m good, go ahead and start meditating.”

Photo D8