Distracting thoughts during meditation is something that affects even seasoned meditators. It is a difficult thing to overcome! Our progress along the path of mindfulness is not always linear (not always a straight line). One day you may find your mind concentrated, and the next day it may seem like it’s all over the place. No need to worry, that’s perfectly natural.
In mindfulness meditation, we practice acknowledging the thoughts that arise without judgment and then recentering ourselves on the breath. Mindfulness is not so much the absence of thoughts as it is remembering to come back when you get lost. Every time that you realize you are distracted, that’s mindfulness! And each time you bring yourself gently and lovingly back to the breath (or the sound of the bell or any other intentional object of focus), that’s meditation.
To practice this, try our meditation titled Monkey Mind, located within our Staying on Track series. This meditation was created by Tamara to specifically address this common meditation challenge.
Another meditation that helps reinforce this practice is Returning to Now. This meditation uses bells to remind the listener to come back to the breath.
Lastly, Tamara wrote a response to this common question for the Calm Blog: https://blog.calm.com/relax/qa-with-tamara-deepening-concentration-when-faced-with-a-wandering-mind