Most meditators strive for one-pointed concentration, but it is not always possible. Despite our best efforts to manage distractions, we are often managed by them instead.

Distractions can be handled by letting them pass without giving them any new energy. By doing so, we naturally become more focused.

Sometimes, however, it is helpful to spend a moment identifying the sources of our distractions, since, in the process of sorting, we come to better understand ourselves. By observing our mental and emotional attachments, we weaken their hypnotic ability to distract us.

Internal and External Distractions

You may feel frustrated when distracted, but the key is to learn how to deal with distractions rather than trying to avoid them. Minimize external interruptions from outside as much as you can. Here are some precautions you should take to prevent external interruptions:

  • Shut down all your phones or unplug them.
  • Disconnect the television, computers, and all kinds of electronic gadgets.
  • If possible, ask your family members when at home to give you some quiet time.

Here are some methods you can use to manage your internal distractions:

  • Do whatever you have to do to deal with something which is urgent or important before you start meditating. This will allow your mind to be at ease during the meditation.
  • Observe the torrent of thoughts that flow through your head like passing clouds. Separate the thoughts from yourself and look at what effect that separation has on your mind.
  • Welcome and accept your thoughts for a while. Try to observe how you feel during this time.
  • Do not rush. Take your time. Your mind is naturally more active when you are taking your time to think. Each thought should be designated with a word such as “thinking” or “planning” and then the attention should be gently brought back to your breathing.

Even the effort you make to reduce distractions can benefit your practice. In case you still get distracted, remember that everyday events always interfere with your practice. Rather than trying to block out the sounds, we want to encourage you to listen to them and let them become part of your practice.

Remember that how you handle distractions is one of the most important aspects of the meditation process. It has been argued that distractions can actually be beneficial to your meditation practice! It is not the goal of meditation to have a blank mind at all times. Meditation is a rich experience-including the experience of distraction. So, what do you do when you are distracted during meditation?

Avoid Creating New Resistance

Meditation encourages us to have a mindset of “non-craving or non-resistance” as an essential tenet. To put it in the simplest way, it means experiencing the world exactly the way it is right now, without trying to change it somehow. Instead, you are simply living it for what it is.

Meditation practitioners can create resistance by resisting distractions themselves. Usually, when people are distracted or feel like they are not doing well, they beat themselves up. They also wish they were having something more peaceful, more concentrated, or more enlightened. To practice non-resistance stay with your distractedness, with self-compassion, and return to the present whenever you find yourself swerving from the task at hand.

Being Able to Notice

In order to be aware of the fact that you are distracted, you need to move from being distracted to seeing that you are distracted. In essence, you are shifting from an unconscious behavior, such as daydreaming or having random thoughts when you are not thinking about them consciously, to one that is deliberate and conscious. As you move from an unmindful state, it becomes much easier to consciously choose your next thought or action. The way you handle this moment matters greatly. 

You can actually use it to include reflection and practice that will last you the rest of your life. Do you, for instance, begin to compare yourself to other meditators who seem to have a lesser need for distractions? Have you noticed this pattern of comparing yourself to others in other aspects of your life? Identifying how you treat yourself and how you manage your mind during these moments will enable you to practice different behaviors consciously. Rather than compare yourself to imaginary “perfect” meditators, you might choose to compassionately return your attention to the present. 

Unconscious mental behaviors vary from individual to individual. Distractions, and the way you return to the meditation, can provide valuable insight into how your mind works.

Two Methods for Dealing with Distraction

We have talked about 2 ways to handle distraction so far. 

  • Just bring your attention back to whatever it is you are meditating on whenever you feel it beginning to flutter away. Whether it is your breathing, the sensations in your body, or anything else. Approach it with compassion. 
  • In the next step, meditate as much as you can. Use the experience as a learning opportunity. You should pay attention to how you treat yourself, as well as how your mind works, both when you are distracted and when you are aware. You might discover insights into the rest of your life as a result of these realizations.


Mediation can sometimes induce floating, flashing lights, flying pigs, or anything else the mind can create. No matter what unusual feelings arise, bring your attention back to the meditation’s focus. The goal is not to analyze these experiences – simply let them flow as far as you can, and then bring your attention back to the senses. 

Make a decision on how long you are going to practice meditation, and stick with it. Watch what unfolds as you meditate. We spend most of our lives trying to accomplish something or achieve somewhere. When you meditate, you have a special opportunity to let go of all that and just be in the moment. 

Depending on the type of meditation you are doing, or the focus you want to achieve in any meditation, the approach you choose will change. The goal is not to have a perfectly blank mind, no matter which approach you use. It is essential that distractions be part of your meditation practice.