I often hear from students the question, “When will my distracting thoughts go away during meditation?”
Several years ago I heard a well-known Rinpoche answer this same question. He said, “When you are dead. When you die, all your thoughts will stop. Therefore you should be thankful that you have many distracting thoughts, because it means you are alive.”
I loved his answer and have often thought of it in reference to my own Animal Reiki meditation practice. It’s true that as human beings, we always must deal with our multi-tasking, busy minds. However, with our Animal Reiki practice, we can manage this 🙂 To answer my student’s question, I like to use the metaphor of driving a car:
When we first begin our Animal Reiki practice, it’s like getting in the back seat of a car. The car is being driven by our distracting thoughts and emotions, and we are just along for the ride. As we begin our meditation, it’s as if we are bringing awareness to the fact that we are in fact in a car and driving somewhere (which perhaps we didn’t notice before). With daily meditation practice, and the open hearted support of our animal friends, we learn better to focus and calm our minds. It’s like moving into the passenger side of the front seat: we’re still not driving the car, but we can have a conversation with our distracted driver and suggest a better route to drive. Again, we practice more meditation with our animals to help us let go, listen and be present.
In time, we can move into the driver’s seat of the car and decide where we want our thoughts to go. Still, at first, those distracting thoughts and emotions are sitting in the seat next to us and poking us in the arm, trying to get our attention and change our route, going back to old patterns of distraction. Keep practicing… finally those distractions will take a back seat to us and we’ll feel more focused on where we are going. Our minds will still have many thoughts and emotions, but they’ll be more of a background noise and won’t derail our peaceful connection with our animal friends.
Sometimes even, with lots of practice, those distracting thoughts will “take a nap” in the back seat and we’ll find ourselves completely at peace and embraced in pure compassion with our animals: Truly, One. This is a beautiful moment that we can build on and can inspire us to keep practicing.
The important thing is to take the time with our animals to be with them, without agenda, without trying to fix them… just being with them with an open, peaceful heart and mind. This is how we can slowly learn to “drive the car” of our mind and manage our distracting thoughts and emotions so we can decide our destination. The great thing is, our animals will always show us when we are getting it right by joining us in that beautiful, peaceful space and enhancing the quality of it with their authentic, easy presence.
Stay safe, be well, and may the animals light your way,