In todays blog we are going to discuss distractions in the mind. And what’s more, todays video is actually a live recording of one of my recent retreats in Adelaide.
So not only will you get to understand how distractions work in the mind but you will also get a sneak peek inside one of our Skillful MIND Meditation Retreats.
I include great metaphor of a monk who breaks his vow to illustrate how we can cling to things instead of letting them go.
Please click on the video below, or continue to the text below to read about the metaphor -and I hope you enjoy the blog.
There’s a popular story of two monks (master and student) passing through a river in Bangladesh. The river is shallow but fast, and the bridge has collapsed. Standing before the water is a beautiful, well-dressed woman, but she’s crying. The master comes over to speak with her. In between sobs, she says, “It’s my nephew’s wedding, and I’m going to miss it. I’m needed there, but there’s just no way I will get past this damn river. I will definitely ruin my dress. I could fall and hurt myself. I don’t know what to do!”
The monk replies, “Relax, I’ll carry you across. Put your arm around my neck.” The monk pickles her up, pulls her in tight, and carefully walks across the river. He puts her down on the other side. The woman is absolutely delighted. She thanks him profusely, gives him a hug, and hurries off to the wedding.
By now, the student monk has made his way across the river as well, looking positively stunned. He finds himself in a peculiar situation. His master has broken one of the most important vows of being a male monk. He has touched a woman. In fact, he has not just touched, but held her in his arms, smelled her perfume, hugged her. The master beckons the student forward. They still have a long way to go, and it’s getting late. The student stumbles along, unsure of what he should do. The whole walk, he thinks of whether he should tell the head Abbott about the monk’s breach of conduct or just keep it to himself.
The two monks finally reach their destination and sit down to a cup of tea. The master has noticed that his student is troubled and asks him what’s wrong. The student bursts out, “Master, you broke the vows! How could you pick that woman up at the river?”
The master smiles and replies quietly, “Yes, I picked her up. But I also put her down at the other side of the river. You, on the other hand, have been carrying her all day.”
Befriending distractions with kindness and equanimity will help you let go of them as they arise. On the other hand, resisting distractions gives rise to negative feelings that stay with you, making the disturbance last longer than it needs to.
When you meditate, this lesson is beneficial. When we push our minds very hard to behave in a certain way, it often has the opposite effect. Instead, it’s more effective to take a step back, relax and find the middle ground. Even if you may have lost your meditation practice 75 times in 10 minutes, be patient and calmly come back for the 76th time. This is the attitude that will help you progress in your meditation practice. You will notice that the distractions don’t bother you as much anymore. It’s not that anything has changed in the external world, only your attitude towards it. You will realize that the disturbance never came from the outside but was created in your mind. You have always had the power to let it go.