If you read anything about meditation online or indeed in any book, one of the first things you’re told is that you should find a quiet place, turn off your phone and hang a do not disturb sign on the door to make sure you’re not going to be interrupted. That’s all well and good – and is of course great advice but what to do when meditation is interrupted is an important question, because at some point in your meditation journey, your meditation session will be interrupted by something.
What Sort of Interruption Is It?
In order to give an answer to the question, we need to think about what sort of interruption is happening to your meditation. Some interruptions can be incorporated into your meditation session, while others might require you to stop and restart it later. Let’s look at which types of meditation interruption can be incorporated into your session;
Non-Action Requiring Disruptions
A doorbell ringing that can be ignored (i.e. doesn’t need to be answered)
A phone ringing that doesn’t need to be answered
Noises from outside, such as trucks reversing or music being turned up
Anything that’s a temporary interference with concentration that doesn’t need our attention or require us to move or otherwise deal with
All of the above can be inconvenient distractions to your meditation session but aren’t cause to terminate the session. The distractions might make you frustrated but if you can feel the frustration and accept it gracefully then you should be able to move forward still. Don’t get angry or upset as this negative energy will impinge your ability to move forward.
If the disturbance is short and temporary then you can simply continue as you were before the disturbance, with little to no effect on your meditation flow. If you’re just beginning the relaxation process by visualizing your body areas and consciously relaxing them, you may need to backtrack a few steps to before the disturbance and then continue. Or, if you’re quite experienced with meditation it may not affect you at all.
If the disturbance continues, but doesn’t require any action from you, then you can potentially incorporate the disturbance into your routine. Don’t try to fight the distraction, just consider it a new part of the routine. Concentrate on it, as you might concentrate on a candle to get into the meditation mode. By concentrating on it and focusing on the disturbance, you remove its power as a disturbance and instead form a tool to help you with your meditation.
If you make everything part of the experience of the meditation it has no power to disrupt your flow. And in so doing you will be able to integrate interruptions into your normal everyday life with just as much ease and your mind and body (and those around you) will appreciate the chilled out way you deal with interruptions.
Action Requiring Disturbances to Meditation
Of course, if the disturbance requires some action on your part then it’s not going to be possible to incorporate it into your flow. Some examples of action requiring disturbances could be;
A dog jumps onto your lap and licks your face
The doorbell rings and it’s someone you have to deal with
A fire alarm, or smoke alarm goes off in your house
A child in your care needs your attention
In these cases, and any others where you need to move or perform some action as a result of the event that is causing the distraction, then you will have to conclude the meditation in a controlled fashion and deal with whatever needs to be done. You can always come back to it as soon as the distraction is dealt with if time permits, or later on.
Once again though, don’t get frustrated by the interruption – see it as part of the process still. One of the side effects of regular meditation should be an ability to deal with life incidents in a more controlled manner and distractions will happen in every walk of life. Learning to deal with them during a meditation with calmness and grace will go a long way to making sure you do the same in other areas of your life. The distraction could easily be a lesson in how to achieve just this!
It’s important to be sure that you close your meditation down in a controlled manner though – particularly if you’re engaging in a spiritual meditation – to prevent any energies hanging around. You can use some of the techniques in our post about spiritual protection tools. Thank the universe for its time, and give a ‘shutdown’ thought such as ‘it is now done’ to signify the end of your meditation.
Scratching an Itch During Meditation
This is a specific distraction that might come up during your meditation. It’s surprisingly common, and although the itch might require some action on your part to scratch it, it can be considered as a distraction which you can incorporate into your routine without having to cease the meditation and come back later.
I would argue, from a meditation perspective, that it is better to attend to the itch by scratching it than it is to try to fight the urge and have the itch disturb your meditation even further. You should be able to scratch the itch almost absent mindedly without thinking about it too much. Once the itch is scratched then you will be able to relax back into the meditation with ease.
What if I Sneeze During Meditation?
The same is true of sneezing as it is of scratching an itch or any other disturbance which is temporary and likely doesn’t need any interaction from you to put right. Of course, this rather depends on how many sneezes you’re doing during the meditation, and whether your nose is running afterwards or not.
If there is no action required by you – the sneeze was a one off and no need to reach for the Kleenex – then incorporate the distraction of the sneeze into your routine. Accept it with grace – perhaps even a little chuckle at the universe trying to de-rail you (hint: it might be a test to see if you’re learning to ignore such minor things in life) and continue with the meditation.
If you’re sneezing multiple times, or need Kleenex to blow your nose, then you may have to consider pausing the meditation and coming back to it when you’ve dealt with the sneezing issue – or later on in the day when you have more time.
At some point in your meditation practise you’re likely to be disturbed by something. Indeed, perhaps in almost all meditation sessions something will change and disturb your concentration. Go with the flow. Accept the distraction, work it into your session if you don’t need to attend to anything resulting from the distraction – or accept that you need to stop your meditation and attend to whatever it is that is causing the distraction if you do. Remember to actively close the meditation session in your mind before you attend to the distraction. This can be as simple as reciting the words ‘It is finished’ in your head at the end of meditations.
Working these practices into your meditative sessions will enable you to naturally assimilate them into your daily life. You’ll become calmer with other everyday distractions and disturbances to your routine which will make you happier and healthier in the long run.
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