A. It is not easy for me to make specific comments, simply because I don’t know you or your practice as a whole. My reaction on reading your question was to wonder if you have focused solely on sitting meditation practice all these years, giving little attention to the rest of your day, and not looking at it through the eyes of practice?

I often come across people that have difficulty in achieving a concentrated meditation practice. Usually such people have little or no regard for practice in the rest of their daily life. To come to the meditation cushion without daily practice makes our sitting meditation shallow and one-sided. Even if we do manage to have a fairly concentrated experience, I am convinced that the fruit of such a lopsided approach will never produce anything necessary for genuine and permanent personal change.

If you care to browse through the Q and A Archive on this website you will soon see that I emphasise the importance of cultivating a practice that is not just on the cushion, but one that is visited again and again throughout the entire day. I emphasise discovering that, off the cushion, the essence of practice is not at all different from the one that’s on it.

By cultivating the practice throughout the day, we become familiar with the central feature of coming back to ourselves, over and over again, in all situations. This allows us to begin to gather ourselves up in a more focused way, exactly as when we meditate. Because of a growing familiarity with practice, now when we come to our cushion we are at a point where we find it easier to apply extra commitment – to really gather ourselves up and enter the concentration we all expect to get from meditation.

To bring practice to the whole of the day is crucial (and when I say practice, I don’t mean just ethics). Practice with a teacher and a sangha. Wholeheartedly commit yourself to the Dharma, and I’m sure the expectations you have of meditation will come to be.