Discussion: How To Deal With Distracting Thoughts During Meditation: 2011 November 11

The discussion on Friday 2011 November 11, 7pm – 8:50pm, will be facilitated by Steve

The subject of the discussion will be how to deal with distracting thoughts during meditation.   The Vitakkasanthana Sutta (“The Relaxation of Thought”) will be read.

According to Buddhist discourses ( suttas ) there are 5 hindrances to meditation:

  1. desire for objects of the senses
  2. ill will
  3. sloth, laziness, torpor
  4. restlessness or anxiety
  5. uncertainty or doubts

In the discourse (sutta) translated as “The Relaxation Of Thought”, these stratedgies are recommended for handling the 5 hindrances during meditation ( vipassana bhavana ):

  1. Think about “wholesome” things ( alternate translation: “skillfull” things )
  2. If that doesn’t work, think about the negative consequences of the hindrances
  3. If that doesn’t work, try to simply forget those thoughts
  4. If that doesn’t work, try be become aware of the cause of those thoughts
  5. If that doesn’t work, muster up a strong determination to move forward with the meditation anyway

The Vitakkasanthana Sutta can be found on

If you own either book, please bring it to the discussion to lighten the load on the  lighten the load the on the environment and reduce costs.  Both books are in some of the area library systems.  You might want to Google for the web site of your local library to search for the book there.   Lastly, if you contact Steve at a minimum of one week before the discussion he will prepare a photocopy for you, free of charge.

Note:  The Venerable Gunaratana, author of the classic meditation manual “Mindfulness In Plain English” ( PDF ) has a recording of a talk he gave on the Vitakkasanathana Sutta on the web site of his local retreat center, The Bhavana Society.

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