What should I do when I get distracted while meditating?
Everyone gets distracted when they're meditating - that's actually part of the exercise and the reason why we practice doing it. Here are some ideas for you to try when you get distracted.
Option 1: Fold the Distractions Into the Meditation
It’s possible to fold some challenges right into your meditation. When distractions happen, see if you can simply notice them without reacting. Whether the distractions are in the form of thoughts, sensations, sounds, or anything else, it's possible to observe them with curiosity and non-judgment. In this way, the meditation becomes about bringing more into our experience instead of trying to keep things out. Joseph Goldstein’s meditation in Session 5 of The Basics course (“Respond, Not React”) addresses this.
Option 2: Return to the Anchor
The fact that you notice a distraction is good! Distractions can be moments of mindfulness in spite of how they sometimes feel. As soon as you notice that you’ve gotten distracted, gently return your attention to the breath, or whatever you chose for your anchor this time. Joseph also offers more strategies for dealing with distractions in Session 7 of The Basics course (“Keep it Going”).
The Basics Course is free in the Ten Percent Happier app if you want to check it out.