Meditation aims at liberating by developing mastery over the mind. It begins with concentration, hut it isn’t possible to concentrate without straying. There are many possible distractions, such as thinking of the past, worrying about the future. Even when you seem to be focused on the present, self-consciousness can be a distraction.
Comparisons are always deadly, whether they pivot around how you are the same or different from another person, or even how different you are now than you were or will be. The goal is to have your whole being concentrated in what you are doing at the moment. As Saint Anthony said, “The prayer of the monk is not perfect until he no longer realizes himself or the fact that he is praying.”
We can’t force our minds to be patient and stay calm. Instead we must learn to witness discomforting interruptions, and when distraction comes, Lawrence LeShan suggests we gently say to ourselves, “Oh, that’s where I am. Now back to work.” Instead of resistance, we simply go back to one and begin again.
If you want to play freely, stop keeping score.