by Chas DiCapua
(Published on Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley Website in April 2016)
Believing there are distractions in meditation comes from the incorrect view that we are meditating and walking the Eightfold Path in order for conditions to be a certain way. This is the view that most, if not all people begin meditating with. Something like, "If I can just get it right, then I won't have to feel or experience anything bad or unpleasant." And, how could it be otherwise? When we begin to walk this path, our hearts and minds are very much influenced by greed, hatred and delusion. So, of course we're going to start out wanting everything to be nice.
But, as we develop the Eightfold Path, we begin to wake up, not only to these tendencies, but also to the fact that they don't work. They don't bring us the happiness we want. I think that, at some point, every meditator wakes up to the fact that they have been practicing in order for things to be pleasant. Once that's seen then they can step outside the paradigm that includes distractions in meditation and begin to cultivate the view that what is actually being cultivated is equanimity. That is, the ability to stand firm in the face of an increasing variety and depth of human experience without becoming reactive. And a mind that dwells in equanimity is a mind that is ripe for apprehending Nirvana.
So, the next time you are noticing reactivity in relation to a certain person or situation, don't think of it as a failure. Being mindful that reactivity is present allows for the heart and mind to learn that it brings only suffering. There are no distractions, only moments of learning. It is also the first and most important step in allowing it to dissipate and disappear. See that you are working on developing equanimity and on enlightenment itself!