Great! The good news is that the moment you noticed that your mind had drifted away, you were being mindful.
Just gently bring your mind back to the meditation. You will probably have to do this several times during the meditation.
Some days we have to do this every 5 seconds or less. Other days, our mind will be quieter and we may only have to redirect our attention every minute or so. With practice, we get better and better, but we all will still have days when our attention has the staying power of a two-year-old child.
The most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed about it, and regard the thoughts as part of the meditation, rather than interference.
Not surprisingly, there is a good deal of variability in how this practice impacts people's lives and when they start to see those changes occur.
That said, it's fairly common for people to report within a couple of weeks of dedicated practice that they were able to meet a situation with a new sense of having choice in how they respond. These are the early signs of developing a degree of freedom from our automatic and habitual tendencies.
Something else to consider: Co-workers, family and friends sometimes notice these changes before we ourselves are clearly aware of them.
As we practice being mindful in everyday situations it does become easier. So it’s best to begin with situations that do not involve interacting with others.
Try being mindful while walking, on public transport or waiting in line, for example. Just be aware of your surroundings by using your senses: Look at everything you can around you, listen to all the sounds you can hear, be aware of your body; whether it’s warm or cold, comfortable or uncomfortable. Be aware of your thoughts or any emotions you might be feeling.
As you grow more accustomed to doing this, begin to incorporate mindfulness into your interaction with others: Wait for others to finish their sentence before deciding you already know what they are going to say, listen to what they are saying and take a moment before you speak rather than rushing in. Ask questions and wait for people to answer before making up your mind about their motives.
These things become easier the more we practice them. And remember, have patience with yourself. You won’t always get it right, but you will get it right more often.
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