My brain is constantly raising, I’m always thinking about new stuff. Does that affect my meditation?

  • I asked a zen teacher about the crappy songs that get stuck in my head. they said not to worry about it. since then, I've calmed down a bit. hth
    – user23322
    Feb 24, 2022 at 23:27

5 Answers 5


Yes, it is.

But it is normal for the ordinary layman, so do whatever you can do. Don't pretend to be what you can't do. Just try to practice, not force to practice. When you force to practice, you will be stressful which means you are not feeling happy to practice. But you can try the meditation for entire life, if you just try to do the meditation again and again with happiness. So, the happiness is the chance for the meditation to be developed.

We were so messy before we met the Buddha. Now we are lesser messy, so if it still left, don't let it ruins our happiness in meditation. That's the way meditation keep going on.

  • 1
    Thank you! Bonn!
    – Justin
    Feb 25, 2022 at 23:23

Ven. Sariputta discusses knowledge of right immersion:

DN34:1.6.69: Right immersion with five knowledges.
DN34:1.6.70: The following knowledges arise for you personally: ‘This immersion is blissful now, and results in bliss in the future.’
DN34:1.6.71: ‘This immersion is noble and spiritual.’
DN34:1.6.72: ‘This immersion is not cultivated by sinners.’
> DN34:1.6.73: ‘This immersion is peaceful and sublime and tranquil and unified, not held in place by forceful suppression.’
DN34:1.6.74: ‘I mindfully enter into and emerge from this immersion.’

Notice that forceful suppression of distracting thoughts is clearly wrong. Yet distracting thoughts will arise. So what should we do?

In MN10, the Buddha teaches mindfulness meditation. And the very first step in mindfulness meditation is to attend to what is present. The body is present, so we need to start with that reality:

MN10:3.2: It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

How should we attend to the body?

MN10:4.1: And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the body?
MN10:4.2: It’s when a mendicant—gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut—sits down cross-legged, with their body straight, and focuses their mindfulness right there.
> MN10:4.3: Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

Mindfulness of breathing sounds simple and trivial. But it is not. As a test, we can count our breaths. If the count is lost, start over. It is very difficult to count breaths when thoughts distract. And that is why counting breaths is effective at letting go of distracting thoughts.

A second way to deal with distracting thoughts is to consider another teaching of the Buddha. Here, the Buddha teaches us to acknowledge the distracting thoughts of any form and let them go:

MN62:3.2: “Rāhula, you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’”

Sometimes a distracting thought is important. In that case we can deal with it immediately (e.g., "the house is on fire") or later (e.g., "I forgot to pay the rent"). If we forgot to pay our rent and remembered that as we sit, we can simply say to ourselves, "Now is the time to meditate. After meditation I will pay the rent."

And then we can meditate.

  • this is a good answer. I actually don't know if no thinking is necessary for jhana (I'm pretty sure it's not). however, you need to not suppress or fight your thoughts, I know that
    – user23322
    Feb 25, 2022 at 17:20

No, that is the meditation. Before you sat down, did you notice the racing thoughts? We you aware that your mind was a torrent of activity? You might have thought that you were calm, collected, and in a state of peace and that somehow the simply act of sitting threw you into seething turmoil.

When we first sit down on the cushion, straighten our backs, and watch our breath, the first obvious and most evident lesson is that our minds are feral animals. They are untamed and given to all sorts of wildness. But it's not until we sit on the cushion that this becomes clear and not until then was this even much of a problem. A wild dog enjoys his wildness. It's his natural state. Tie him and see how he strains the leash. Only a tame dog walks besides his master with his held high.

That you're noticing means that you are doing something right. If you sat in perfect peace from the beginning you'd be either practicing in error or brain dead. These thoughts will dissipate the longer you keep at this. The simple act of sitting is the first step in putting them to rest. Simply sit on the cushion. Do it daily and do it for at least an hour. Do not try to stop your thoughts. You needn't even watch your breath, not a first. Just let everything settle like leaves falling upon the ground. Let this be your practice for now.

  • Thank you, but is it important to straighten your back? I’m sitting in a wheelchair, and my legs are taken away at the knees. So positioning is a little difficult. And I’m sitting in a wheelchair so my back is already straight.
    – Justin
    Feb 26, 2022 at 23:54
  • So don't think of that as some kind of magical posture. Buddhism (for the most part) isn't like yoga or tantra where the arrangement of the body has some mystical significance. When you straighten your back, you enact a couple of physiological changes and these are what you really should be focused on. First, an upright posture makes for an upright mind. It is erect, buoyant, and not given to slackness. When we slump, our attention and alertness also slumps. This isn't conducive to concentration. Second, by maintaining an upright posture, we open our chest and diaphragm.
    – asd123
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:35
  • You really want to ensure that your breath isn't obstructed. This may not seem like an issue now, but as your concentration develops and rapture (especially) begins to establish itself, any breathing restrictions are nothing short of torturous. Any restrictions will be like boulders in a river and will restrict the energy that starts to course through your body. In most cases, this will be so overwhelming that you may have to break your concentration entirely. Lastly, when we maintain an upright posture, we can sit longer.
    – asd123
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:40
  • After about an hour of sitting, slumping parts of our body begin to become tired and tense. Sitting upright, loose, and relaxed - like clothes hanging off a hanger - is actually the most durable sitting posture. It will allow you to sit for hours in relative comfort. The take away is to just do what you can. Try to put the points above into practice. Don't worry about perfection in your sitting. In fact, I'd argue that the habit of meditation and the difficulties you overcome are more important than the depth of your concentration.
    – asd123
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:44

My brain is constantly raising, I’m always thinking about new stuff. Does that affect my meditation?

Nothing wrong with having an active mind. Just be mindful of the distraction, stress or the feeling of being overwhelmed. You could do samatha meditation to calm down if that's your goal. Just be aware that's only a temporary solution.

Better yet is to just be mindful of these states and see them for what they are - phenomena that has arisen due to causes and conditions. Eventually they will loose their momentum and pass away. If you feed the loop however it will continue.


It is, but not all is lost!

There are a handful of meditation techniques, with and without thinking. Try to focus on a topic while meditating, for example, compassion (towards yourself, others, animals, etc). That is actually reflection, and very needed to advance your studies. Baby steps still carry you forward, I hope the best for you!

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