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I have noticed that while watching TV or trying to do work, my mind keeps getting caught up in the feeling of my breath, or the random noises around me. These are the exact things that I notice while meditating, and while meditating I allow myself to notice those things and observe myself noticing them. But, when I want to read a book I am finding that I am now noticing those things instead of reading the book, like I am going back to meditating without meaning to.

I’m having a hard time getting into a flow state at work or while doing something enjoyable. It’s bothering me. I don’t want to stop meditating, but if this keeps happening then I will have to stop.

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  • Trying to find lifelihood that matches as base for a meditative life isn't wrong at all, good householder. Blessed if the mind goes after refined "entertainings", harmless to obtain. – user11235 Feb 18 '20 at 6:21
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Skill at anapanasati means being able to read & work with awareness of breathing. Here, the tempo or pace of reading & work adjusts to conform with the rhythm of the breathing.

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There are six kinds of immersion:

DN33:1.10.120: Three kinds of immersion. Immersion with placing the mind and keeping it connected. Immersion without placing the mind, but just keeping it connected. Immersion without placing the mind or keeping it connected. Another three kinds of immersion: emptiness, signless, and undirected.

The last five are advanced and require skill in the first, which is placing the mind and keeping it connected. As you meditate, you keep your mind connected with your breath and that is immersive. As householders, we have to work and this introduces a challenge of attending to breath while we work or read. The attention becomes split and one ends up feeling conflicted in focus.

There's actually a simple solution that works quite well and results in better work or reading. The simple solution is to work and read with each exhalation. Attend to the breath on each inhalation. For example, during Zen retreats, our Roshi instructed us to do calligraphy with a single breath. With this simple technique we can harmonize our breathing with our daily activities. It will feel odd at first but then one notices an overall improvement in our work and reading. Clarity emerges attending to the breath while working and with anything we do.

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When I meditate, if I notice that I'm distracted then I return to the breath. It's not really "bad" to get distracted, so no need to be harsh. With love, I return to the breath.

During daily life it's the same, if I get distracted, then I return to what I was doing.


Anyway, if it is becoming a habit so strong that it's interfering with your life, maybe you can mix in other meditations to try to get enough change to brake the habit. Maybe try some body scan. Or some breath and some body scan each day.

I hope you solve this problem.

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You should practice Vipassana walking meditation instead of Samatha meditation.

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  • The OP complains that they are now "noticing those things instead of reading the book" -- do you think that practising Vipassana instead would help with that problem, and if so how or why? – ChrisW Feb 18 '20 at 10:55
  • Itjs actually Vipassana which has lead to such observane... neither is the answer understandable nor the comment on it, but maybe both of you would do a good for one self to train in focus on the frams rather then to give advices. What do you think (mindful on it)? – user11235 Feb 18 '20 at 15:13
  • It appears to me this practitioner has overcome by Sloth and Topher (Thina Middha) or the fifth Mara. Please refer the attached link.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html – SarathW Feb 18 '20 at 20:05

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