I recently wrote a story about a character who meditates, and that led me to resume meditating myself after a lapse of several years.
I now remember why I stopped: because while I was meditating…trying to quiet my mind…trying to let distractions go…my thoughts were FILLED with noise. Not just I have to remember to pick up my dry cleaning noise, but Why aren’t you a vice president yet? and Why didn’t you get a date to the senior prom? Oh you know why, Charlie. Shut up! Thoughts drifted through the air and stuck to my mind like dog fur clings to a velvet suit.
I quit meditation because I felt like I was failing at it and making myself sad at the same time. Who needs inner peace that badly?
And then, while meditating, I had an insight. The purpose of meditation is not just to let go of distractions and have them be gone. It is to practice letting them go. It is to develop an awareness of when you are distracting yourself and strengthen your mind to set the distractions aside. Without distractions there is no practice, and without practice there is no improvement.
This idea struck me so profoundly that it screwed up the rest of my meditation…which was okay since I knew I would be coming back to my quiet place at the same time the next morning, in order not to think about my new realization.