Updated: Jan 16
In the blogpost about vipassana meditation I already mentioned visitors. After reading that post you probably have a pretty good idea of what visitors are but I still wanted to write an entire post about them.
If you have ever meditated before you will know that during a meditation there can be all kinds of distractions that take you away from your anchor. Small or big, annoying or enjoyable. A distraction is still a distraction. However the word distraction tends to have a negative feel to it and I don't quite agree with that. My own meditation teacher calls distractions "visitors" and I think that sounds a lot nicer. Because your visitors are able to learn you a lot. They are part of your meditationpractice.
GREET YOUR VISITORS
Just like any visitor in your daily life you greet your visitors in your meditationpractice. Say you are working in your frontgarden. The gardening is your anchor, the thing you focus on and try to keep your focus on. That doesn't mean that when someone walks by and greets you, that you ignore him or her. You greet them kindly and then you go back to the gardening. You acknowledge that the visitors are there, that they come by, and treat them in a kind way without jumping into conversation. You just greet them and go back to your anchor.
If you like you can name your visitors. A thought might be "thought" or "thinking", something you feel in your body could be "sensation" and something you hear you can call "sound". When you name your visitors it is important not to jump into the story of your visitors. You don't have to go into a thought or think about where a sound comes from. Your goal is to acknowledge that the visitor is there and then go back to your anchor. You don't want to start thinking about your visitors. When you greet someone passing by you don't have to think about where he or she came from, where someone is going or what someone ate that morning. You greet them, they go on and you can go back to your garden.
Try not give your visitors a label. They are not positive or negative. All of your visitors are neutral. A label only forms when you start to think about who or what they are, when you go into their stories. When you greet them, you don't need a label. You treat all of your visitors the same, you greet them in a kind way and go back to your anchor.
SMALL AND BIG VISITORS
First there are the small visitors. These are the visitors that you do notice but that don't distract your from your anchor. These are the people you don't know, that just walk by without a greeting. You notice they are there but you can just keep on gardening. You might notice a sound when you are meditating but you can just keep your attention with your breath, with your anchor.
Then there are the medium visitors. These visitors do stop to say hello. After a little while you notice that you didn't keep your attention with your anchor but got distracted. You got into a conversation with your visitor. These are the visitors that you name. You greet them in a kind way and then you go back to your anchor.
At last there are the big visitors. These are the visitors that just like the medium visitors stop to say hello. They take you away from your anchor. You greet them but these are the visitors that apparently feel the need to pour out there heart to you. The visitors that don't just go on after you said hello. You have the intention to go on gardening, to go back to your anchor, but you aren't able to because of your visitor. When your visitor asks more of you attention then your anchor, the visitor will become your new meditation object. You stop gardening for a while to listen to your visitor. Your new anchor is your visitor. That said, you don't go into the story of your visitor. You give the visitor your attention without getting into his or her story. When the visitor is done pouring out their heart and goes on, you can get back to the gardening, your anchor.
When it is a physical discomfort for example and it demands your attention, then that is where you send your attention. At first your goal is to acknowledge and then go back to for example your breath. If that doesn't work you can make the discomfort your new anchor. You observe what you feel without adding a judgement. The only thing you do is observing from a distance. You are not the discomfort, there is a discomfort. Don't start thinking about it, about where is comes from or that you want it to go away. Just observe it. See how the sensation changes or stays the same. It might be that after a while you are able to go back to your breath as an anchor because your visitor has disappeared into the background or that you stay with the visitor for the remainder of you meditation. There is no right or wrong here. It is about staying with your anchor without judgement.
That was it for today. It can be very interesting to look at your "distractions" in this way. It brought me a lot in my personal meditation practice. Maybe you will notice certain visitors coming back to you all the time. For now, goodluck with the next steps on your bridge and I wish you all the happiness and an amazing rest of your day.