Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahmavamso said, “The mind has two main functions, ‘doing’ and ‘knowing.’ The way of meditation is to calm the ‘doing’ to complete tranquility while maintaining the ‘knowing.’ Sloth and torpor occur when one carelessly calms and both the ‘doing’ and the ‘knowing,’ unable to distinguish between them.”
Meditating is not just about sitting silently and breathing. The goals as one’s meditation practice progresses is to decrease the time needed to for us to realize that we got distracted, increase the number of pure concentration moments and increase the length of those pure concentration moments. When there is no understanding of the process, or no emphasis on efforts to regulate one’s attention, one is sitting in more of a quiet, stand-by state and not working toward deep altered states of consciousness, internal transformation and transcendence.
Chaos and distractions are not completely avoidable. It is not realistic to think that they are. We search for balance, serenity, openness, clarity, presence, awareness through the development and progression of our meditation practice.
The next step is to generate more intensity in our practice. Keep your focus on your breath second after second, as if something extraordinary is about to happen at any given moment and you cannot miss it so your focus in waiting is whole and determined. This outlook with help to deepen your meditation and distracting thoughts will subside.
Punishing or criticizing oneself for getting distracted is an obstacle. Acceptance and self-love are the keys to overcoming the obstacles and advancing in our practice. Even if we have a particular day when we are highly distracted, the act of sitting still and attempting to keep focus will bring benefits.
In some advanced stages of meditation effort is still there, while in the furthest advanced state of meditation, there is no more effort, no attention, no meditator and no object of meditation.
It is said that if you can meditate with excellent concentration for 10 minutes straight, then the 11th minute will take you to advanced stages of meditation (also known as Samadhi).