“... everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. According to Don Juan, we have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member. He knows the description of the world; and his membership becomes full fledged, I suppose, when he is capable of making all the proper perceptual interpretations which, by conforming to that description, validate it ...”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Trail of Distractions

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Almost every time I sit down for meditation I encounter distractions. Sometimes it seems like they are there all the time and that I just notice them when I sit to observe. Sometimes it seems like they arise for no other purpose then to distract me. Be it sounds that come from outside (car engines or birds singing), thoughts that come from inside (fears or blessings) or sensations that come from body (cold hands or pricking needles in my right leg or  a sinking spine) – there seems to be an endless pool of distractions.

Yet every distraction seems to hold a hint of learning in it. In every distraction there is a dual presence. There is naturally a mindful I that gets swept away on the wings of distraction. But there is also an observing I that sees mindful I moving around. Both are present in every distraction and every distraction is an opportunity for them to learn to co-exist. There are moments where mindful I seems to be dominant and “I” feel that this meditation practice isn’t going anywhere. But then there are moments where mindful I seems to be absent and “I” feel settled, quiet and suspended.

In retrospect I am learning to appreciate that when I refrain from being critical of  distractions they cease to be obstacles. When I embrace distractions they turn out to be like breadcrumbs leading me on a trail that’s taking me where I need to go.

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