Often, when I’m in the midst of concentration meditation, I start thinking—and it feels natural. It feels like something I want to do and am choosing to do. Thinking is such a strong habit that I don’t even notice that it’s not in line with my intention to focus my attention on my chosen object.
To solve this problem, I find that it helps to explicitly clarify that for the duration of my meditation session, thinking is not what I’m intending to do. (This is different than trying not to think; I’m not trying not to think, I’m just clarifying that any thinking that I do find myself doing is unintentional and involuntary.)
As a simple way of reminding myself of this, I’ll sometimes start a meditation session by reminding myself, “Think later!” Then, when I find myself thinking during my session, it becomes more clear that my thinking is an unwelcome intrusion (rather than the productive endeavor I generally assume it to be).
Photo Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnnophis sauritus sauritus) by Peter Paplanus is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.