1. use rosary
    K: Rosary comes from Buddhism not Christianity. Many monks use it as well as meditational wheels and scrolls to help them concentrate. Some even use candles or incense. This stuff just helps with concentration and focus during meditation.

  2. Don’t feel so bad about getting distracted after just one month! Some of us who have been practising Buddhist meditation much longer still get distracted. It is a way of life that would last through your entire life time.
    Ultimately, it is your practice and determination that would help you succeed, but don’t expect perfection as long as you are in a human body!

  3. Andrew Weiss, who is ordained in both Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing and the White Plum Lineage of the Japanese Soto Zen Tradition – has an excellent beginner’s book on the practice of Mindfulness Meditation called “Beginning Mindfulness: Learning The Way of Awareness.” *It teaches Mindfulness of Breathing, Walking Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Loving-kindness Meditation, Tonglin: The Art of Practicing Compassion, and Mindfulness in Everyday Life.
    Bhante Henepola Gunaratana has written a book on Mindfulness Meditation called: “Mindfulness in Plain English” Chapter 11 is ‘Dealing With Distractions Part 1’ and Chapter 12 is ‘Dealing With Distractions Part 2’: http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/ Although, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is of the Theravadan Buddhist Tradition, these chapters will still be quite helpful for you in your practice of Zen Meditation.
    *Will star this, so other Buddhists may answer your question.
    Metta to all.

  4. Thanks to Brian for putting a star on your question (Thanks, Brian!).
    One of the common misconceptions about Zen practice – and Buddhist meditation in general – is that the goal is to “empty the mind” or “put an end to thinking.”
    There are, in fact, meditation “tricks” that can settle the mind in this way, but these techniques are generally not part of the Buddhist tradition. Even samatha (concentration) techniques are not designed to clear the mind, but rather to stabilize the mind.
    The function of Zen training is to develop deep awareness of how the mind functions.
    Our mind produces lots of stuff – sensations, feelings, emotions, impulses, thoughts, stories, etc. – and, as you note, all this stuff is quite distracting. Now that you’ve been practicing for a month, you can see how distracted you are.
    However, these distractions are not only present during meditation, but during each moment of life, whether we’re aware of it or not. Meditation only makes us aware of the distraction.
    And that’s the first gift of meditation: Now you know how distracted you are! Congratulations!
    All of us are distracted in just the same way, most of the time. But, as you continue with your meditation practice, you will be able to “see through” all this distracting mental phenomena. Bit by bit, the distractions will become less compelling – which is a way of saying that you’ll be less attached to your stories, impulses, and the like.
    As this occurs, your own natural wisdom and compassion will begin to emerge into the new spaciousness that you have created. The stories, feelings, thoughts and impulses may never go away, but you will no longer be “hooked” by them. This is genuine freedom.
    A granite rock has no thoughts, but its ability to help other people is pretty limited. A human being, by developing awareness of his or her thoughts, can find a way to live with compassion and wisdom. For most of us, this is a lifelong effort. And, given the great suffering in the world, what could be more important?
    Best wishes in your practice!


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