How can I handle the thoughts that occur during meditation?

The mind is our friend, not our enemy. Just as the eyes are for seeing and the ears are for hearing, the mind is for thinking. We cannot forcefully stifle its activity, nor should we. There is a reason for the rush of thoughts that sometimes occurs during meditation. Think of what happens when you open a fizzy beverage. There is a rush of bubbles towards the surface. All the carbon dioxide, trapped inside, now escapes and the result is disturbance. If you leave the bottle standing for some time without its cap, there are no more bubbles. All the gas has escaped. Similarly, in meditation, when we keep our minds open, the thoughts and emotions that we have been harboring deep inside now find an avenue to come out. We experience their exit as a rush of thoughts.

While this can be disturbing, the after-effect is one of stillness – provided that we do not add to the disturbance by worrying about the rush of thoughts. Therefore, the best practice is to treat thoughts as if they are uninvited. Do not entertain them, but do not try to forcefully remove them either. Simply ignore them and, if necessary, remind yourself that you are meditating. If the disturbance is too great, you can open your eyes for a few seconds and look down, which will clear that condition.