Attend to your life, Attend to your practice

A few years ago on a retreat I was eager to talk to my teacher about my problems meditating.

Speaking to my teacher, I relayed the recurring thoughts I had about work when I was meditating. At that point I wasn’t very organized and was adjusting to a new job. I would sit and thoughts would pop up like, “Oh shoot! I forgot to call Jim. Oh man, I didn’t send my boss that report!” I earnestly asked, “How can I let go of these thoughts about work and truly settle into my practice?”

My teacher told me, “That’s simple, you obviously need to attend to your professional life and get your to-do list in order.”

This was the first step in my meditation practice starting to shape my life to become more orderly and productive. I couldn’t sit and quietly follow my breath if my mind was being interrupted by work. Some thoughts we can recognize and let go of, others need attention.

My brain kept interrupting my quiet time with thoughts about work because that particular area of my life was a mess. By getting more organized through creating a system of to-do lists, prioritized tasks and goals, I no longer had parts of my brain throwing up a 4 alarm warning.

When we are sitting and meditating, some things that arise are trivial and should be immediately let go of. Other thoughts indicate that an area of our life is out of balance and needs to be addressed.