Meditation involves focusing your mind on a particular object. That object can be as simple as the sensation of breath at the tip of your nose or as complex as an analysis of whether or not you are equal to or different than the parts that make you up.
We lose our meditation object when we start thinking about anything other than what we set out to meditate on. Any meditator will tell you that this happens all the time!
In fact, the Buddha spoke of nine levels of meditation, and in the first level—which everyone goes through—you can barely keep your mind on the object. Even in the second level, your mind is more off your object than on it.
So what do the masters recommend we do about this problem?
The antidote is pretty obvious: notice that you’ve gone off your object and bring your mind back. This is called “recollection” in scriptures.
Of course, we cannot be aware that we’ve gone off our object if we are not clear about what our object is. So, number one, know your meditation object. Number two, keep a mental guard on duty as you meditate. As soon as you go off your object, that guard should sound an alarm.
As soon as the alarm goes off, gently bring your attention back to the object.
While not sexy, this technique is so essential—and there’s no getting around it. Like any habit, the more you practice recollection, the easier it will become.