Our minds and environments have many ways of testing us when we first start meditating. The key is how we respond to anything that stands in the way of our meditation.
It’s common to experience interruptions in your practice. If you’ve been meditating for a while, you’re likely gonna be indifferent to the interruption.
Not everyone has gotten their mind to that point. Simply bringing back your attention to the present, to your breath is ideal, and the thing to do for most meditators.
But for this occasion, I’ll share some additional tips that can be helpful, no matter what stage you are in, in your meditation journey.
Interruptions are always gonna be a part of meditation, sometimes, the interruptions stem from within, at which point, I’d say it’s harder to control since when we meditate, we are indirectly in a quest to master our discipline and let our true self take charge, instead of our feelings and emotions.
If you are capable of mastering your focus, attention, and discipline, something meditation helps you achieve, almost, no matter what external interruptions you experience, you’ll remain indifferent to them.
Of course, if an interruption demands your immediate attention and it’s a serious situation, that’s the exception. That’s not the type of interruption I’m talking about.
Now, not everyone has the luxury to meditate in silence, and it’s rarely ever completely silent, to begin with.
I’d even go as far as to say that if you’re stumbling upon interruptions in your meditation, and you’re able to push past those interruptions and still focus on your meditation, you could be at an advantage, since you train your mind beforehand to deal with something most wouldn’t count with, in a meditation experience.
However, let’s focus on what’s key to keeping yourself from getting interrupted or being immune to them.
Set Everything In Place Before You Start
Start by turning off your phone or at the very least, setting it on silent mode, or putting it in another room.
This may sound like common sense but if you have your phone close to you, you’re likely to feel the urge to peak. In a way, it can be advantageous to keep your phone next to you when you meditate to test yourself and whether you’re capable of enduring the temptation of checking what’s new.
But in general, it’s better to establish an environment that favors meditation without interruptions. You want to have your full attention on the meditation. Since that’s the only way you can reach a profound state. And as a result, experience many of the benefits often mentioned in meditation.
Interruptions Aren’t An Excuse To Not Meditate, They Are Part of the Experience
Many would be discouraged to learn they’ll stumble upon interruptions when meditating. Especially if they’ve already experienced deep, high-quality meditations where their mind is completely focused in the meditation and they reach the desirable calm state which makes them not want to stop.
If you experience interruptions, and you overthink these interruptions, they are clearly gonna affect the quality of your meditation and you won’t feel as good as you felt with one silent, peaceful meditation as you were with the interrupted one.
Not all meditations are gonna be as equally enjoyable or as easy. But if you can get to a point where you, regardless of the circumstance, are able to bring back your attention to your breath, and hold it there, almost no amount of external interruptions will present a problem in your meditation. It’s almost like falling asleep to the sound of a loud air conditioner.
Your mind gets used to it, and more so the more you practice meditation. Interruptions will always present themselves. There might be loud cars outside, or perhaps neighbors blasting loud music, and you may be unfortunate enough for these things to happen when you are meditating.
Don’t stress it, which I know is easier said than done, but over time, these things are prone to happen sooner or later at some point. Life is full of interruptions. The more you meditate, the more likely you’re gonna be indifferent to them.
Observe Your Reaction
It may be tempting to react with anger or annoyance if something disrupts your peace. But one of the best things you can learn in meditation is indifference and non-judgment.
If you don’t attach a label to the interruptions, and instead, observe yourself through a third-person lens, you’ll many times find yourself catching your emotions before they drive to angry land.
And you’ll be able to take a step back, become present and be mindful of that anger or annoyance you are feeling and almost decide whether you want to continue on that path.
Interruptions are a great test of our emotions vs. our discipline. You can actively choose not to react with anger to an interruption.
And if you do it enough times, you might be able to develop a habit out of it. Of course, anger has its place. We’re human after all, but you could control these reactions to the degree that they don’t jeopardize the meditation.
It’s less about the interruptions and more about how you react that determines how the meditation is gonna go.
If you’re able to observe that emotion you are feeling, and calmly bring back your attention to what’s important, in this case, focusing on your breathing, you are already winning the battle with yourself, which will always be the toughest one.
It helps to take a mental note of what you are feeling, so many of our emotions we feel are mindless because our environment made us react that way. With meditation, you are instead deciding that only you can provoke those emotions instead of the environment.
Those Who Are Most Affected By Interruptions
While interruptions can affect anyone’s meditation, no matter how experienced you are, novices that are just starting out are more likely to have a hard time with interruptions.
They haven’t mastered the state of mind of being in the present moment, but if you are starting out and experiencing interruptions, keep trying to make the most out of your meditation by bringing back your attention to the present.
It doesn’t matter if it takes several tries, meditation is generally easy but can be a challenge if you’re just starting out. Over time, as with anything, you get better at it.
Bet you didn’t expect interruptions to be wholesome. Well, if you are interrupted by your pet cat or dog climbing on you as you meditate, that’s a perfect moment to meditate with your pet. There are benefits of meditating with your pet.
While pet meditation isn’t for everyone, I find it to be one of the best interruptions that can happen to me when I meditate, as it intensifies my bond with my pet and I have an overwhelming feeling of love.
Which indirectly leads to all of the other benefits of meditation. So if you happen to find yourself interrupted by your pet when meditating, I highly recommend embracing it and welcoming it.
I may be a bit biased since I’m a pet person, but animals make great meditators and we can learn a lot from their perpetually meditative state.
Expect interruptions to be a part of your meditation, and don’t expect every session to go as planned, since there are variables outside of our control when we meditate, just like when we go on about our everyday.
Discomfort and interruptions are part of growth when meditating, and if interruptions don’t happen externally, they are prone to happen internally for those starting out, especially with the mind disliking meditation so much at first.
Interruptions are unlikely to be a problem for you if you’ve identified them for a while and you may even be able to identify with some of the things I’ve said.
For the most part, don’t let things that are outside of your control determine the quality of your meditation experience.