#367: Is there a way toward Awakening Oct.10 21

Is there a journey toward Awakening?
“I have been meditating for 2 years with the group and alone at home every day.
Also, I have been listening and read all Dharma talks.
Where am I in the journey toward Awakening” asked the student.
“ You are far away from it and also too close” I replied.
The request to talk about Awakening is the most frequent one even if we talk about it on regular
basis and the last one was just a month ago.
Maybe only a few of you were attending or did not bother to read the blog.
It sounds that many Zen practitioners believe that there is a long journey toward Awakening and this journey is made of many stages full of meditation-based hard work during each phase.
It is like starting at point A and, after a lot of practice, POOF! the finish line is crossed and the student is
Awakened or Enlightened. This is pure delusion and the source of many disappointments.
Achieving Awakening or Enlightenment is not like taking a course and passing an exam.
There is no diploma at the end, and the teacher is more a guide rather than bringing knowledge.
The word Awakening is the word Awake and the word Awake means to be actively aware in its
literal and figurative senses.
Aware of what you may ask…….I will elaborate in a few min.
In the word Enlightenment is the word Light and the word Light means brightness or luminous
in its figurative sense. So…Awakening and Enlightenment are almost synonymous because one needs the other one. However, the word Awakening should be used since it is the word used by the Buddha
rather than Enlightenment which sounds more like a miracle or a bliss. Remember: the nickname “Buddha” means” the one who is awaked”
To be aware is to pay attention, in a nonanalytic way – meaning in a mindful way- to the current moment and its contents such as where you are, what you are doing, what your senses are perceiving around you.
Concisely put: To be awake is to experience, in a mindful way, factual realities of life in the precise moment. Or not to be in a permanent dreaming state.
How to do this?
It is done by bringing your out-of-control wandering mind where your body is and what it is doing in this precise moment.
Therefore, Body & Mind form a single entity rather than having, all the time, a split personality where your body is doing something and your mind something else in a different space-time.
So, Awakening does exist already in all of us. No Ph.D., MBA, or MD. are required!
Practicing awareness of the factual realities of life in the current moment has immediate consequences such as being fully mindful of our delusions as opposed to these factual realities. Our common delusions on which we should be awakened/alert to include:
– Things last: No they don’t. Everything is transient and we exist only in the present moment.
– I control my life: No you don’t. Wishful thinking.
– Life should be happiness: No, suffering is also part of Life and is mostly generated by our
ego-driven mind.
– Past, future, thoughts, and feelings are real. They do exist but are fictional that is don’t have any
concrete reality.
– I am an indispensable and independent entity: No, we are all interconnected and graveyards are
full of indispensable people.
A student asked Zen Master Suzuki: “What is Enlightenment Sunim?
He replied: “When you eat, just eat. When you chop wood, just chop wood”
Sorry folks. It is not mysterious, sexy, or exciting. IQ above 200 and hard work are not necessary.

#366 The 4th Noble Truth Oct.3rd 21

The 4th Noble Truth (Reality): The Noble eightfold path

1st Noble Truth = Suffering” is an integral part of life.
2nd = 3 main causes of suffering (I want but don’t get, I am getting what I don’t want, and ignorance (illusions) )
3rd = Extinction of suffering = Nirvana
The 4th Noble Truth (Reality): The Noble eightfold path

1st Noble Truth = Suffering” is an integral part of life.
2nd = 3 main causes of suffering (I want but don’t get, I am getting what I don’t want, and ignorance (illusions) )
3rd = Extinction of suffering = Nirvana
4th The 4th Noble Truth or the proper 8 paths or guide to follow in our daily life.
These 8 paths are all linked together and represent the core of the Buddha’s teaching over 50 years.
These eight factors aim at promoting and perfecting the three essentials of Buddhist training and discipline: namely: (a) ethical conduct, (b) mental discipline, and (c) wisdom.
It will, therefore, be more helpful for a coherent and better understanding of the eight components of the path if I group and explain them according to these three practical heads that are:

1- Ethical conduct, 2- Mental discipline, and 3- Wisdom.

1)Ethical conduct: It encompasses Right speech, right action, right livelihood.
Ethical conduct is built on universal love such as compassion and forgiveness for all living beings.
Right speech
Abstention from telling lies, backbiting, abusive and impolite language, gossiping, and slander.
Right action
Preserving all living beings, promoting moral, legal, and peaceful conduct.
Right livelihood
No harms to self (i.e. intoxicant) and to others.

2)Mental discipline: it encompasses right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration
Right effort
Having the will to promote good and prevent evil.
Right mindfulness
Developing awareness of:
1) Body and its activities.
2) Sensation: physical sensory experience from our 5 senses.
3) Feelings.
4) Mental activities ( ideas, thoughts, conceptions, etc…)
5) Present moment.
Right concentration
Developing mental focusing skills necessary awareness.

3)Wisdom: it encompasses right thought and right understanding or view.
Right thought
Right thought denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love
and non-violence, which are extended to all beings.
Right understanding or right view
What we generally call “understanding” is accumulated cognitive knowledge from ongoing
learning and experience. It is not very deep.
From a Zen point of view, real understanding or proper view is deeper that is:
Seeing things as they are is factual realities of life.
Among the most important let me mention impermanence, not having control,
only the present moment exists, thoughts and feelings are not the genuine you and
few others not mentioned here. Practicing an open non-egoistic mind is mandatory in
achieving not only the right view but also all of the other paths previously described. Thank you

#365 Being mindful cultivating relationships and joy by Roland Sep.26th 21

Being mindful cultivating relationships and joy.
I started meditating in my early twenties, to address drugs, anxiety, and depression, I am now in my early seventies and still going, except for several hiatus’s I have been reading, studying, and practicing the Tao, Zen philosophy and of course meditation.
Most people seek meditation as a way of dealing with troublesome situations, feelings, and thoughts and of course suffering.
We practice mindfulness in our daily habits, even if just for moments. We are reminded to be mindfully aware when showering, eating, meal preparation, to notice our pets, nature, stillness, and silence.
Goals of this practice are to achieve egolessness, to live in the moment, to practice nonjudgement, to be compassionate, not to be attached to expectations, speak only the truth and love without expecting love.
My question is why we don’t use the principles of our practice when choosing our friends, people who we want to be in relationship with, to share and grow in an open honest egolessness life.
I believe that cultivating mindful relationships would be very powerful support in our respective mindful meditation practices.
We can not keep abandoning the true nature of ourselves and our practice for the comfort of others and expect to live in alignment with our awakened inner purpose of living mindfully.
It is my opinion that we can not live in our society and expect to be sustained by only practicing mindfulness exercises on daily activities, and meditating, we need like minded people to be in relationship, to teach, to learn from, to share life with, in other words to create our sangha.
I have participated, as most of have, in ‘formal relationships’ like workshops, meditation groups, classes and retreats, what I am talking about is a more intimate, vulnerable, open and honest relationships that choose to be in mindfully, committed to egolessness, and growth without attachments or expectations.
Most spiritual leaders, Senseis, gurus, teachers are by and large in relationship with their practice not necessarily encouraging or teaching the value of developing meaningful relationships that support and encourage our mindful practice.
Society encourages the type of relationships that we adhere to, society measures our relationships on exclusion rather than inclusion but when we do such radical actions like meditating and practicing mindfulness, we must be very radical in growing relationships that are truly non judgemental, without expectations, and that are honest and purely loving.
This was not meant to be a traditional Dharma talk/lesson, it was to address the questions I have concerning relationships, do we consciously with intention choose, cultivate, and build our friendships and relationships always keeping in the forefront to nurture our mindful practice as we will nurture theirs.
Instead of Questions open, answers close, so I hope that this talk stimulates a lot of questions, especially addressing how we cultivate mindful relationships, should we cultivate these relationships, and could they be more important than other areas of mindful practice

#364 Nurturing our good seeds Sept 19 21

Nurturing our good seeds

As the soil of our planet, our subconscious is full of good and bad seeds that I will call weeds.
When we water our seeds, they mature and manifest in our consciousness. Example:
1-By watering good seeds they will grow stronger creating positive thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.
The growth of our positive seeds is helping us to be happy, compassionate, and understanding.
2-By watering bad seeds they will grow stronger by on the opposite.
The growth of our negative ones – our weeds- brings suffering, sadness, anger, worries from
endless and unachieved desires, hatred, and illusions as opposed to the factual realities of life.
An important point here:
Because we are the only ones to water our seeds, all of these manifestations are self-created
and under our control.
Everything depends on what kind of seeds we are watering and how often.
Unfortunately, many of us have the tendency to nourish our weeds in the form of unachieved desires, hatred/ aversion towards people, events, and things of all kinds.
Some of them, even, identify themselves with their negative traits and may need therapy.
Therefore, we need to maintain positive nourishment on good seeds in order to grow happiness.

How to do that?
Using mindful awareness, we must learn to be selective in what we water.
– First, by discovering and feed our good seeds. They are always there.
This is how we touch the wonders of life that are always available to us.
– Two, by taking care of our suffering.
One way of taking care of our suffering and its causes is to invite the opposite seeds
to come up because nothing on earth exists without its opposite.
When we have the seeds of despair, we also have the seeds of hope. Up to us to invite them.
When we have the seeds of depression, we also have the seeds of vitality and happiness.
Up to us to invite them.
Observing w/o resistance to our negative feelings in a mindful way has an immediate impact on
them and their opposites. This is some sort of entanglement.
It will weaken the power of the negative seeds and strengthen the positive seeds at the base.
Everyone has the seed of compassion, so, when we practice mindfulness of compassion every day
that is watering the seed of compassion, it will become a strong powerful source of energy inside self and around us.
Also, the more we cultivate serenity within us, our sadness, despair, hatred, and illusions will naturally decrease.
We don’t have to eliminate or even fight our negative seeds.
Like weeds, they will come back whatever we do. Just accept them in a mindful way.
Then, switch to your positive seeds, pay more attention to them by watering them more often.

Thank you all. Zen Master Ji Gong

#363 We are already awakened Sep. 11 21

We are already Enlightened

Being Awakened or Enlightened has nothing to do with paradise and being in a constant state of euphoria, bliss with spiritual power.
The central teaching of Zen is that we are all intrinsically awake that is, we can experience genuine reality at it is and not as the mind-made fictional one.
This is the opposite of being a daydreamer. I said we can experience, but, unfortunately, we don’t.
Awakening is the practice of having an open mind not a programmed one full of opinion and judgment that we download mostly under the control of our ego.
Experiencing genuine reality implies practicing mindful awareness and acceptance such as:
Being aware that everything is transient.
We do not control too much of our life.
We are all interconnected, and not indispensable.
Living in the moment since it is only in the Now that we are alive, only the present moment
is real.
Things, events, and people are what they are and not what we them to be.
Thoughts and feelings are the products of our minds but they are not you.
Practicing acceptance rather than resistance about self, others, events, and life in general.
Realizing that suffering is ego-driven from desire, hatred, and illusion.
Being conscious that happiness and serenity come from inside and not from outside.
Therefore, practicing with a constant awareness of these 9 realities will open the door to serenity
and, with serenity, Awakening will pop up to the surface.
Without serenity, Awakening requires learning how to control and clean our wandering mind from
its thoughts and feelings listed above and causing suffering.

If our mind’s nature were not already free that is enlightened, that would imply we could become enlightened only after hard work to acquire it, which is not so.
Here is a metaphor to help:
Consider a room that I call “awakened mind or Our True Nature”.
By definition, this room is naturally spacious.
However, during our life, we fill up that space with all kinds of furniture that I will call desires, hatred, delusions, thoughts, and feelings. Some are necessary but how many of them?
So: although we fill up the room with our desires, aversions, and delusions, our true nature that is the intrinsic spaciousness of the room is not affected by them because always there.
We are inherently free

Therefore, in the Zen tradition, the practice of mindfulness meditation is not about producing enlightenment because, like the room, it is already there.
Then, you may wonder: “Then, what am I doing here, practic¬ing?”
Because our meditation practice is helping us controlling our mind-made fictional world and cleaning up the “furniture” in the “room.”
By practicing non-not attachment to your desire, hatred, thoughts, and delusions, the room is clearing itself, so to speak. The room is not cluttered anymore but spacious like an “Awakened mind”
We are the materialization of something I.e. Universal Consciousness?, God,…..
Such materialization is designed to allow us to experience genuine Reality and Awakening created by such “Something”.

Thank you

#362 Making friends with ourselves Sept:5 21

Making friends with ourselves

Cultural brainwashing

Making friends with ourselves can be a challenging undertaking because we have been taught very quickly in life that we are lacking on this and that, and we should ain to be the best on whatever.
There are things I’ve said to myself that I would never, ever say to a friend.
I’ve pushed myself too hard by telling myself that my best wasn’t good enough and that my bad stuff is too much.
Basically, we have moments of treating ourselves like someone we didn’t even like, let alone love.
Making friendship with ourselves is alien because our culture telling us to be hard on ourselves in order to achieve more and more.
Self-aggression squeezes the mind, and aggressive, negative thoughts undermine our self-image.
The perception and prevalence of a negative self-image vs. a positive one are obvious in our culture, education, and consumerism. Self-dislike of our body and intellect is a big business.
However, The stuff we buy and consultations with will never fix the negative perception of self.

If we accept that our bodies are OK, that we have flaws and weaknesses, that we are getting older every day, or that we can be down emotionally, then, we don’t need to build a better self-image through products, services, and psychiatrists. If you feel good, buying stuff is unnecessary.

Obviously, seeking professional help can / may be indicated when the self-image becomes destructive.

Why mindfulness meditation can be useful?

“Mindfulness meditation can help us in making friends with ourselves”. It’s a statement that struck me
when I first heard it, but the more I am practicing, the more profound it is relevant.

Meditation can be a part of the healing process of our self-image.
The key is not making meditation yet another way to beat up on ourselves for not being good enough.
Mindfulness meditation is learning to bring mind and body together since our wandering mind
is forced to focus on our body that is our breathing.
Being one, both become friends at least for the duration of meditation.
It is during meditation that, subconsciously, we accept what our body and mind are and do.
This acceptance is allowing becoming friends with us.
With practice, it is possible to focus, in a mindful way, on one of our negativity that is without analytic, judgmental, and decisional cognitive process.

Learn to observe one of your negative traits such as weakness. For example: “ I am observing weakness”
By doing so, you are not weak anymore, you have a perceived weakness and you observe it.
Big difference because observing it creates a mental separation between you and weakness.
You are not anymore an emotional victim of x but the pragmatic observer of it.
This is a critical step to learn so we can accept this anger then to let it go.
This mindfulness process can be applied to any negative traits and flaws and weaknesses
that all of us have or perceive to have.

This practice is part of self-compassion so important is Zen philosophy.
Again, it does not mean to be self-centered or being narcissistic. It means simply to befriend with
The journey is not easy but it is worthwhile to try. Thanks

#361 Complaining: our favorite ego’s food. 28/08/21

Complaining: our ego’s favorite food

Complaining is one of our ego’s favorite strategies for strengthening itself.
We are complaining almost all the time about anything. It can be verbal, from thoughts but it is mostly subconscious as demonstrated using hypnosis.

We are complaining about everything, even if there is nothing we can do about it.
Complaining aloud or only in thoughts make no difference.
The list of complaints is endless dealing from the past, present and future and triggered
by people, events and even self.
How often do you catch yourself complaining about whomever, whatever, whenever
or even your life and life in general?

Why complaining is part of our identity?:
On rare occasions in life, complaining is totally justified i.e.
When you have a recurrent water leak the day following the repair done by the plumber.
But these occasions are in fact rare.

Every complaint is a little story our ego-mind is creating and, strangely enough, we completely believe in it. It is an integral part of our ongoing day dreaming state and most of them are meaningless, sort of small talk to others and to self.

Many egos that don’t have too much else to offer for self-identification can survive very easily
by feeding themselves in complaining alone about every things and all the time.
So, complaining is a very common way of self-identification. “I am complaining therefore I am”

Complaining is like an iceberg: when we are in the grip of such ego trick, especially about complaining about other people, it is usually subtle if not subconscious which means that you don’t realize it. This is the iceberg below water.
The tip of the iceberg is when our complaint becomes conscious thru thoughts and verbal process.
Complaining is an on-going negative feeling that should be incorporated in the same basket
that other negative feelings such as anger, regret, worry, guilt, anxiety, and so on.
To complain is always non-acceptance of what things, events and people are.
Similar to other negative feelings, complaining always produces negative energy and
makes you a victim. Remember that negative feelings means negative energy and negative
energy is sucking a lot of our mental and emotional energy which should be used for more
positive activities.

So, what to do?
If the complaint remains subconscious, there is obviously nothing we can do about it despite burning energy as I said.
Otherwise learn to catch yourself complaining about x. y, z that is practicing mindfulness awareness of your complain verbal or by thought. Then:
Fix the cause it if you can which is, as I said, very rare.
If not: accept it…….and let it go in a mindful way.
All else is pure stupidity or even madness. Thank you.

#360 Genuine compassion Aug. 22th 21

Only genuine compassion is enough.
Adapted from the writings of the Dalai Lama

“It’s not sufficient, says the Dalai Lama, to simply think that compassion is important. We must transform our thoughts and behavior on a daily basis to cultivate compassion without attachment” What he just said is not an oxymoron and I will try to explain it.
Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be.
Compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as forgiveness, hope, and courage.
In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are the 2 sides of the same coin meaning: “Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering and love is wanting them to have serenity if not at least happiness.”
It is not enough to believe that compassion is important and nice to practice.
Self-centered behavior inhibits our compassion and love to others, and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another.
For true serenity to emerge, we need to cultivate a calm mind, and such peace of mind will arise
only from the practice of a compassionate attitude not only towards others’ living beings but also to ourselves.
How can we develop this attitude? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to believe that compassion is important and nice.
We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior in order to practice compassion.
Unfortunately, many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.
For instance, the love that parents feel for their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate.
Usually, when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, but there is always some sort of attachment behind it.
“Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife—particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s deeper character very well—depends more on attachment than genuine love,” says the Dalai Lama.
Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears flawless, when in fact he or she has many faults. In addition, attachment makes us exaggerate small, positive qualities. When this happens, it indicates that our love is motivated more by personal needs than by genuine care for another.
Many marriages last only for a short time because they are lacking compassion; they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation, and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears, so does the relationship.
Compassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion to others is based not on our own needs and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes to overcome suffering to achieve peace and happiness, then, on that basis, we should develop genuine concern for their problem. This is genuine compassion. For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion for the well-being of self and others, in fact for every living being that we like or dislike through the universe.
Text adapted from the Dalai Lama book “The compassionate life” Thank you.

#359 Actual vs Virtual realities…

Actual reality, virtual reality, and spacetimes. A Zen perspective.

It is 8 pm. Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater and watching an exciting movie.
In this setting there are 2 space-times:
– Your space-time is your immediate surrounding (Space) at 8pm (Time) also called the present
– What is going on on the screen, represents many “movie space-times.”
Your space-time defines actual and concrete reality.
The movie-space time defines virtual reality because people, actions, surroundings, and various time
periods are just 2D projections on the screen.
So, here is a fundamental question:
What are the differences between actual and virtual realities?
This question is not academic. It has significant implications as far as Zen practice is concerned.
1) Actual reality:
Is what we are experiencing concretely and mindfully i.e. 1- what our body is doing,
2- what our 5 senses are perceiving, 3- our surroundings with their contents, events, and actions.
All of these are in the single present moment.
Here, obviously, space-time is a single entity since one cannot be at 2 different places and times at the same time.
2) Virtual reality:
This is our mind-made reality. It is virtual since it does have any of the components of the actual
reality. Thoughts, feelings do exist but are virtual by definition. When our mind is wandering,
many successive space-times, contents, and events occur in which you may or not be present.
So, our mind is producing a self-made on-going inner movie somewhat equivalent to the movie
on the screen of the movie theater.
The analogy with you, in the movie theater, and you, outside it, stop right there because there is a fundamental difference.
In the theater, we are actively observing the virtual reality on the screen made of events, people, actions in many different space-times.
If your favorite movie is online, you can even stop it, go backward or forward.

But, during the day, are we actively observing our mind-made movie as much as in the theater?
Apart from its cognitive activities requiring attention, our mind is wandering no-stop, producing
zillion of thoughts, feelings in many different space-times: over 90,000/ day from neuroimaging.
Rather than being the active observers of the movie like in a theater, we are the opposite, sort of
victimized recipient of our permanent inner mind-made virtual world even w/o being fully aware of it.
Our inner little voice is pure self-talking.
Our wandering mind is never where our body is and what it is doing. Its powerful grasp is such that we identify ourselves with our thoughts and feelings non-stop
to the point where we behave during the day in auto-pilot under the control of our mind.

What Zen teaching is telling us?
Zen is telling us that we are “day sleepwalkers”. We are constantly in a dreaming state.
We identify ourselves with our ego-driven movie.
Being in this fictional world is a great source of suffering from desires, hatred, and delusions.
Like in the movie theater, Zen is telling us to be the observer of our fictional world and its content, to be the awareness of our thoughts and emotions. By doing so, you are not the thinker but the one who watches the thinker. This watcher is your True self.
We become the controller of your mind rather than being under its control.
Serenity cannot be achieved if you cannot dissociate yourself from your mind-made ego-driven fictional world maybe not permanently but as much as possible. Thank you

#358 Breathing: a miracle moment 8/8/21

Breathing: A Miracle Moment

First, we sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Then we keep your back erect without straining or overarching and keep your chin horizontal. Close your eyes. If not, gaze gently a few feet in front of you w/o staring. Aim for a state of alert relaxation. Take three or four slow deep breaths, feeling the air entering your nostrils.
Then let your breathing settles into its natural rhythm, without forcing or controlling it.
All you have to do is just to feel breathing, as it happens, nothing more.
Notice where you feel your breath. Perhaps it’s predominant at the nostrils, perhaps at the chest or abdomen. Don’t modify it.
Become aware of your breathing sensations. If you’re focusing on the breath at the nostrils, for example, you may experience tingling, vibration, or cold and warmth. You may observe that the breath is cooler when it comes in through the nostrils and warmer when it goes out.
If you’re focusing on the breath at the abdomen, you may feel the in and out movements.
Don’t analyze them, simply feel them in a mindful way.
Let your attention resting on the feeling of your natural breathing, especially by focusing on your exhale. (Notice how often the word “resting” comes up in this instruction? Breathing should be a restful practice. You don’t need to change it or “to do it right”.
You may find that the rhythm of your breathing changes. Just allow the change whatever it is.
Sometimes people get a little self-conscious about watching themselves breathing and they start hyperventilating a little, or the opposite, holding their breath without fully realizing what they’re doing. If that happens, just go back to your natural breathing.

Many distractions will arise:
Thoughts, images, emotions, aches, pains, wandering in the past or future.
Just be aware of them, then let them go by going back to your mind anchor that is your breathing.
You don’t need to avoid your thoughts or analyze them.
Accept them as they are and refocus on your exhale breathing, over and over and over.
Meditation is moving the mind back and forth from breathing to thoughts.
By doing so, you are taming your mind progressively. It is a sort of mental workout.
You don’t have to get mad at yourself for having thoughts, they will happen many times during meditation. Just acknowledge their presence and let them go one by one. When you notice that your mind is wandering, just take him back to your exhale.
The magic moment:
The moment you realize you’ve been distracted by thought and you are going back to your exhale breathing is a magic moment.
It’s a chance to become different by simply learning to letting go the intruder rather than being his victim as we are too often and, at the same time, being in the present moment.
By doing so, you are controlling your mind, forcing him to re-focus on his anchor that is your breathing. At this point, the thought evaporates because the mind cannot have
two thoughts at the same time!
You may have to let go of wandering thoughts thousands of times during meditation and it is just fine. There are not thousands of roadblocks to your practice, just the opportunity in controlling your mind thousands of times. That’s life: starting over, one breath at a time w/o being discouraged since the overall beneficial effect of meditation is cumulative with its practice.
Finally: counting your exhale from 1 to 10 then 10 to 1 is an excellent adjuvant when concentration is lacking. Thank you all