You are trying your best to concentrate on your breathing, or mantra, or meditation image and suddenly the mind goes “fishing”. Several minutes are gone by the time you realize it and bring the mind back on the meditation object. This keeps happening for the whole hour you sit for meditation. A lot of people get fed up and give up meditation all together.
Thinking is what the brain does all the time. It does not know how to “not think”. This is a reality you have to accept. It is useless to dislike this glaring reality. However, what you can do is not encourage the thoughts. How would you do that? You do it in the same manner as you do on a busy street – you ignore people walking around you after being careful not to bump into them. You deal with thoughts the same way you deal with some mad man talking – you ignore whatever he says. You know very well what will happen if you get involved in conversation with him.
Think of it this way – your mind is presenting “teasers” almost every second, such as “I must not forget that I have to call Mike at three.” Or “Oh s—, I did not check mail.” The moment you respond to a teaser, your brain gives you more thoughts on that subject. You’ll get mental images of Mike, phone, computer, browser, and every thing connected with that thought. If you respond to any thought, it will only lead to more thoughts. Therefore, an essential skill one develops in trying to meditate is to ignore thoughts.
When you do not respond to a teaser thought and continue to focus on the meditation object, say respiration, your brain will let go of that teaser and try something else. You carry on with the practice and the teasers will become less and less frequent. That is meditation in a nutshell – non-identification and increasing the space between thoughts.
You are the witness, to whom things happen but who remains a witness. Witnessing is the art of non-identification, and non-identification is all. Non-identification is all there is to meditation. It is the whole meditation. – Osho
As renowned master, Osho, puts it – detaching from mental activity is meditation. The more detached you are, the better is your meditation. So, essentially you end up training yourself in the art of detachment or non-identification from your thinking. And the reward of meditation comes in the form of increasing space between your thoughts. This space is nothing but peace and tranquility – it is highly energizing. It also sets into motion a positive feedback – it makes you less distractible and you meditate better. This encourages you to meditate regularly, and you are already on your way to deeper and deeper feelings of inner peace and “natural” happiness.
This is how meditation increases your mental discipline and gives you a vastly improved ability to concentrate and focus – you are not easily distracted or “tempted”, putting it in layman’s words. Putting together all you get from meditation – you become strongly focused, highly disciplined and a confident personality. Things like thoughts, emotions, or feelings can’t sway you from what you are doing.