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Mindfulness, Concentration, and Distraction

From Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Chapter 12 ("Dealing with Distractions II"), thoughts on the real goal of meditation and how to get there:

Mindfulness is the most important aspect of meditation. It is the primary thing that you are trying to cultivate. So there is really no need at all to struggle against distractions. The crucial thing is to be mindful of what is occurring, not to control what is occurring. Remember, concentration is a tool. It is secondary to bare attention. From the point of view of mindfulness, there is really no such thing as a distraction. Whatever arises in the mind is viewed as just one more opportunity to cultivate mindfulness. Breath, remember, is an arbitrary focus, and it is used as our primary object of attention. Distractions are used as secondary objects of attention. They are certainly as much a part of reality as breath. It actually makes rather little difference what the object of mindfulness is. You can be mindful of the breath, or you can be mindful of the distraction. You can be mindful of the fact that you mind is still, and your concentration is strong, or you can be mindful of the fact that your concentration is in ribbons and your mind is in an absolute shambles. It's all mindfulness. Just maintain that mindfulness and concentration eventually will follow.

The purpose of meditation is not to concentrate on the breath, without interruption, forever. That by itself would be a useless goal. The purpose of meditation is not to achieve a perfectly still and serene mind. Although a lovely state, it doesn't lead to liberation by itself. The purpose of meditation is to achieve uninterrupted mindfulness. Mindfulness, and only mindfulness, produces enlightenment.

(cf. Mental Noting (2009-05-03), Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Breath as Vehicle (2009-06-17), Karma (2009-07-15), We Are the Pot (2009-08-13), Calm Technique (2011-05-07), No-Self and the Space of Wonder (2014-10-20), ...) - ^z - 2015-11-23