When we sit to meditate, a million distractions come to dissuade us from the effort. If we meditate with half-open eyes, which is ideal, we may be distracted by light or movement around us. In that case, it is permissible to close our eyes.
Of all the sensations, sound is the one most likely to invade our inner "battlefield" of Kurukshetra. In that case, we may use earplugs, or a Tshaped board on which to rest the elbows, lightly pressing the thumbs on the tragus of each ear. It is best to find a silent place for meditation, or some place with such a confusion of noise that no particular sound stands out distractingly; or else a place where one continuous sound drowns out all others: a waterfall or a flowing stream.
Smells can be used to advantage by creating one scent (an obvious suggestion is incense) that not only diminishes other odours but becomes gradually associated in the mind with devotional exercises and uplifted feelings.
Tastes are relatively easy to dismiss, but if any taste lingers in the mouth from food recently eaten it may help to sip a little pure water before sitting to meditate.
Touch, finally, can at least be made less distracting by wearing loose, comfortable clothing, sufficiently warm and sufficiently light for the occasion, so that the body neither shivers nor perspires unduly.
Our mind is like a glass of water in which dirt particles have been stirred. We cannot command the water to become clear, but if we allow the glass to sit for a while, the impurities may gradually settle to the bottom, or rise to the surface of their own accord, to be skimmed off.
We don't realise how restless the mind is. When we sit to meditate, we may be aghast to find how our consciousness seethes and roils with one idea after the other. But let us continue calmly to discipline this fractious colt, the mind! It will gradually behave, as we want it to.
From Swami Kriyananda’s memories of his guru’s discourses, 2006.