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Getting closer?

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Getting closer?
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6/4/18 2:35 AM
Hi everyone,

I have read about so many meditation techniques, but I have not found one that would seem to help me in any way.
From an early age my thoughts travel far away from the present - towards narcissistic thinking about myself.

Trying to focus on the breath, after less than a minute I identify with my thoughts and forget that I intended to meditate. I return to meditation and again in less than a minute I am going drifting the wrong direction.
The main problem is that when I forget that I had to meditate, I err in my mind 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or even 30. After this time I realize that I had to return to my breath and try again, then leave, because I do not see any progress . When trying to focus on the breath, the appearance of my thoughts is often impossible to define or 'catch', it is a clouded and hazy bundle of undefined abstractions. 
What can I do?

RE: Getting closer?
Answer
6/4/18 4:04 AM as a reply to John.
Progress tends to form in a way that is subtle. We think that it's lack of validation is representative of a lack of progress.

Each moment you come back to the breath reinforces your ability to come back to it in future. Each moment you stay on the breath after this reinforces keeping on the breath in the future.

A person's concentration is not necessarily linear over a long period of time, and depending on how you let go of things, can be unpredictable.

Concentration is different to insight, which for the most part, stays (as long as we are well behaved)

Do not worry if it takes a long time or it appears progress is not being made, it may take time though it surely takes resolve.

RE: Getting closer?
Answer
6/4/18 5:41 AM as a reply to John.
You are already showing progress, because you are noticing you have become distracted and returning to the meditation.  Just keep it up.  Culadasa's book The Mind Illuminated details all these small steps really well - from where you are now, all the way up to a high level of attainment.

So persevere, but you might want to try shorter sits at first.  As you start to be able to concentrate for longer, then you can lengthen the sits.

RE: Getting closer?
Answer
6/4/18 6:21 AM as a reply to John.
Culadasa's point is that, when the mind wanders, 'you' actually didn't do it. By this same logic, you don't deserve any kudus for those moments when it comes back. So there's no need for either praise or blame. You can take the I/me out of it along with the expectations you have for how meditation should be.

However, what you can do is, when you notice that the mind has come back, briefly appreciate and savor that moment before gently turning back to the breath. In this framework, the point of the practice is to intend to pay attention to, say, the breath at the nostrils but to really put a premium on those moments of appreciation after returning from wandering. This kind of flips the script--coming back becomes a positive thing rather than a moment of 'oh shit, I got lost again.' But it's not 'I'm great, I came back from being lost.' It's about appreciating the moment of wakefulness as it is, not your role in making that moment happen. Anyway, just one possible approach...  

 

RE: Getting closer?
Answer
6/4/18 7:52 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
One thing to say is that in some sense if your mind wanders for such long periods, you are training it to do that

It might be useful to limit a meditation sitting to just 5 or 10 minutes, and try to have as few distractions as possible. So maybe do 3 sittings for 10 minutes each, so as to limit the length of each mind-wandering train of thought to not go on for long like  20 minutes.

When you can do a 10 minute sitting where each mind wandering only lasts for a minute or two, then maybe try extending the sitting time

RE: Getting closer?
Answer
6/4/18 8:14 AM as a reply to John.
Do a session of physical yoga stretches and pranayama (30-60min) before the meditation. Such a session naturally trains attention to the breath, and it also calms the body, making it easier to settle into meditation.