If you’ve just started meditating, you might have run into a completely normal, sometimes frustrating phenomenon—the wandering mind. Just as you close your eyes and settle into your breath, there it is—a thought. Maybe it’s an exchange you had with your boss. Or the fact that you really need to pay that parking ticket. Whatever it may be, a wandering thought can take you out of the practice and make you wonder if you’re any good at meditation after all.

Don’t worry, this happen to everyone—even the most advanced practitioners—and there are many methods to help calm a busy mind. Read on for more.

  • Be gentle. It’s easy to become upset if your mind keeps wandering, especially if you’re doing a meditation when you’re already irritable, but try not to become angry with yourself. This will only make it harder to return to your practice and quiet your mind. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Visualize: Come up with a positive visualization for releasing thoughts. Try picturing a leaf floating on a breeze or a soft light passing by. When a thought comes up, use your visualization to acknowledge and release it.   
  • Try an active meditation: If your thoughts continue to wander, try an active meditation. This could be a focus meditation where you concentrate on an object or a mantra meditation, repeating words throughout your practice. Read more about these types of meditations here.
  • Journal: Another tactic that works well when dealing with excess worry is journaling about your thoughts before you begin your practice. In essence, you are leaving your present worries on the page, releasing them before you begin your meditation.
  • Keep practicing: Don’t be discouraged. Wandering thoughts are completely normal and the more you meditate the easier it will become to quiet the mind. Every practice is different, just as you will be different every time you practice.

What are your tips for a wandering mind during meditation? Tell us in the comments below.