I have been recently asked how to proceed when one is distracted by thoughts. The questioner asked, referring to the exercises at: www.successconsciousness.com/index_000005.htm
When doing the concentration exercise number 1, which is counting words in a book, I always keep on counting, and if a negative thought comes, I ignore it and keep on counting. Is it ok to do the exercise this way, or do I need to start from the beginning?
Here is what I replied:
If you are able to ignore the distracting thoughts and keep your attention on the counting, that’s okay.
If you are not able to resist the distracting thoughts, follow them, and then after a while catch yourself thinking about something else, then you will have to stop the exercise and start from the beginning.
Resisting the distractions and continuing the exercise without loss of attention is different from forgetting the exercise and thinking on something else.
Thoughts always try to distract the attention, but if the will and desire are strong, and the attention is strong, the concentration will continue, in spite of some thoughts at the background.
If the will, desire and attention are not strong enough, you will most probably forget to concentrate, and become aware that your mind has drifted away, only some time later. This might be after several seconds or even several minutes. When this happens, the distracting thoughts become the main focus, and you will need to start the exercises from the beginning.
It is like working out with weights. You strengthen your muscles, if lift the weights and do the exercise, even if it is difficult. However, if you stop the exercise in the middle, do something else, and then try again, only to give up, you are not doing anything. So it is with concentration exercises. Continuing, and not giving up in spite of the attempts of the mind to distract the attention, will result in strengthening your concentration.
Peace of Mind in Daily Life
A guide to inner peace