Meditate Without Getting Distracted by Your Thoughts

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Meditating can be difficult because of distracting thoughts. You can get pass this with proven techniques that help you get over this hurdle so you can reap the payoffs.

a person's hand in a gesture while sitting in meditation without getting distracted by thoughts
Hand gestures symbolising the flow of energy

Meditation is a powerful tool to help you calm your mind and improve your overall mindset to help you succeed in life. It will help you reach your goals and make better decisions.

The problem I hear is “How can I just sit there and think of nothing?”.

It’s simple really…

How can I meditate without thoughts popping into my head?

Key Takeaways
Know that there is no perfect way to meditate.
Thoughts pop into everyone’s head.
You simply acknowledge them, drop them and return to focusing on your breath or stillness. Practice for a few minutes and extend to improve your ability over time.

But you might say: what if you can’t shake off those pesky thoughts? Don’t worry, the following is aimed at helping you reach that ‘mind power’ state.

First, let’s look at what’s going on with this…

Why is it hard to meditate without thinking

When we believe we must have a blank mind when we meditate, it makes it even harder to quieten the mind. We are setting ourselves up for failure. There’s no “what to think”, not think or whether to think at all, when it comes to meditating.

Look at it this way…

Your internal monologue is your monkey mind that chatters away whenever there’s an opening. Meditation is the perfect opportunity for it to have a stage.

Thoughts fly in (like how to plan for that departure) and then an urge to go and ‘do’ something about it comes along. I know, been there. Yup. It’s hard to ignore. But what I learnt was … this is normal and it passes. On realising this, I was on my way to forming a regular meditation practice.

Practical tips and meditation techniques to quieten your mind

Here are some practical tips to help you on your way to forming a regular meditation practice and taming that monkey mind…

Preparing to meditate

  • Set up a quiet and comfortable place to meditate. This could be a corner in your room or a peaceful spot in nature.
  • Optional timer: If you’re one to care about the time – set a timer for a specific amount of time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Ambience: Use ambience to bring about a relaxed feel the instant you go there. What works for me is calming zen music in the background. I also have organic incense burning in one of my favourite flavours. Sage is one I find calming. These things help to set the scene.

Position and focus

  • Sit in a comfortable position. You might like to get yourself a Zafu meditation pillow or Zabuton mat to help with your posture. Have your back straight and your eyes closed or open. I prefer to have my eyes closed. Some folk like to have them open to focus on a candle or look down at a spot on the floor.

Meditation techniques to quieten the mind

  • Focus on your breath. Observe the sensation of the air moving in and out of your nostrils. You can count as you breathe in and then out to help with your focus. You can imagine breathing in through one nostril and out through the other. There are different breathing techniques, which is a topic for another article.
  • Here’s one way of counting your breaths: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold for a count of four. Repeat this cycle.
  • When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath or your focal point on the floor or the flame of a candle. Don’t judge yourself for getting distracted, it’s natural.
  • If you’re having trouble quieting your mind, try doing a body scan. Focus on each part of your body, starting from your toes and working your way up. Notice any sensations you feel in each area.

Practice and benefits

  • Remember that meditation is a practice, and it takes time to develop. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like you’re making progress right away.
  • With regular practice, you’ll start to notice the benefits of meditation, such as reduced stress and increased focus and clarity; and reaching those goals!

Move slightly if you must. It takes time to sit at length without moving.

I gained insight into this from a long-time practitioner and teacher of meditation teacher and author of Practical Meditation...

guided Meditation

It is much easier to be guided. That was my experience when starting out. If you go this way, choose someone with years of experience.

It’s better to learn the basics from someone like this so that you aren’t forming and reinforcing any bad habits. You don’t need to travel miles to attend training these days. You can do it in your own home with online tutoring.

One registered meditation teacher and author that I recommend is Giovanni Dienstmann. He has over 18 years, and more than 9,000 hours, of meditation experience.

I used his Master Your Mind for Beginners online course. He gives simple step-by-step instructions that help you with forming a regular practice. The course offers 35 days of guidance and access is ongoing. So you will always have it to use no matter when or where you are. See more details and the price here.

How can I meditate longer?

What I learnt as a beginner, is to start off with just a few minutes and progressively add extra minutes each day. That’s how you’ll get to meditate longer.

How long is ‘longer’? It depends on you and what stage you’re at with your practice. There are some people who meditate for hours. A 24-hour meditation is not uncommon for Yogis and monks. However, the best meditation practice is one that’s a daily habit.

Instead of being on social media, spend several minutes in meditation a day. Try aiming for a 15-minute meditation practice. Then work up to a 30-minute meditation routine each day. The options are yours. Some days might be more, some days less. That’s how I roll.

the best time to meditate

When is the best time to meditate? The best time to meditate can depend on you and your schedule. It can be anytime. There are reasons for different periods and I’ve set out some options below.

Early morning: It can be the best time to sharpen your mind because everything as ‘busyness’ has not yet filled your day. Mediation is a good way to start the day. It’s a time when your mind is more in the moment, and not racing with things that need doing.

Meditate before work: The same can be said here as written above for early morning meditation. The deadlines of the day have yet to clog your mind. Meditating before work can be a way of setting the scene for a productive and happy day ahead.

Before an important decision: By taking the time to meditate before making an important decision, you give yourself the opportunity to clear your mind of distractions and focus on the task at hand. This can help you to see the situation more clearly and make a decision that is based on reason and logic, rather than emotion or impulse.

Meditate at work: Use meditation at work to refresh and recharge. Mindfulness is an ideal form here to bring clarity to tricky issues. An idea to practice at your desk: Try the Dzogchen approach, a form of meditation where you have your eyes partially open.

Where to meditate, person meditating at work

Meditate at night: A fine way to end the day and prepare for a good night’s sleep is to meditate. Meditation before bed using the breath to relax is your power to calm, restore, and centre yourself after a full day and to prepare for a restful sleep.