Recently, a student admitted that during meditation, his mind did not necessarily stay focused where it was supposed to be but that it nonetheless provided him with very clear thinking while he meditated. He seemed to feel guilty that his mind was not behaving as instructed.
That’s really OK. Especially when you’re just beginning to meditate, it’s an accomplishment simply to get your mind to calm down to the point where clear thoughts arise. This isn’t the goal, of course, but it’s the first step in the long journey. The student was telling me that he was on the path, which is wonderful! As the Chinese say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
When you find your mind wandering off the path, however, it’s best to gently and kindly remind it where it is going. Always be kind to yourself, which includes your mind; it may help to treat the wandering mind the way you would treat a beloved toddler, gently but firmly showing it how to walk, and where, knowing that these tiny steps are the beginning of a life journey that, it is hoped, will take that child far, safely, to many wonderful destinations.