5 meditation techniques for easily distracted minds

Many people find meditation uncomfortable and frustrating. They worry they’re practising it wrong or feel the pressure to put a stop to their constant stream of thoughts. However, it’s important to realise there is no ‘right’ way to meditate, nor is there a prescribed state one must exist in during a meditation session. An additional misconception is that meditation is about controlling your thoughts. Forget control, it’s about surrendering.

Meditation = a mental and physical practice that enables a person to become detached from their thoughts and feelings and fully aware and open to what’s true in the current moment.

We must shed our expectations and ideas of what a meditation session should look and feel like. Every time we sit down to meditate, our experience will differ, it will unfold in unexpected ways. Each session brings its own uniqueness. The goal shouldn’t be to have the perfect session but rather to embrace the here and now and remain open to whatever arises.

Different sensations, emotions, feelings, and thoughts will surface when you’re meditating, that is normal. If you feel anxious and find fearful thoughts start to distract you, let go of the urge to halt, enhance, or alter those thoughts and just watch them come and go. Endeavour to simply observe each thought as it reveals itself. Remain fully present in the moment and let go of the habit to self-judge. 

The meditation techniques outlined below will assist you in becoming the observer rather than the distressed individual attempting to control your thoughts.

1. On-the-go meditation

Many people envision someone sitting with their legs crossed on a yoga mat when the word “meditation” is uttered. However, you can meditate anywhere, at any time; you simply need to be able to focus. You might be on a walk in your local park, pedalling away in the gym, or simply sitting on a train – these moments, where our mind gets to pause, where we get that mental space, lend themselves perfectly to meditation.

This on-the-go technique requires you to be attentive to the sensation of the breath travelling around your body. Don’t worry about controlling your breath, instead, gently observe how it feels as it naturally flows.

Maintain focus on your breath by:

  • Noticing sensations you feel.
  • Observing the pace of your breathing.
  • Direct your attention to areas of tension or discomfort that require your healing breath, such as your heart, and acknowledge any sensations – perhaps it’s beating rapidly or feels tense.
  • Visualising your breath as a specific colour – picture it shifting in shade as it flows through different areas of your body.

This meditation technique is great for beginners as it doesn’t mandate closing your eyes, slowing your breath down, or being very still. It’s simply about noticing how the breath feels. 

It’s important when you inevitably start to think about matters unrelated to how the breath feels, that you carefully bring your attention back to the matter at hand. Don’t beat yourself up, even the most accomplished meditators have wandering thoughts. Simply redirect your attention back to your breath whenever your mind starts to wander!

Tip: If you struggle to focus in a busy environment (understandably), try finding a spot on the floor before you to rest your eyes on.

2. Loving-kindness meditation 

For those of us who are spiritually inclined, this technique (also known as metta meditation) originates from Buddhism. It centres around extending the feeling of loving-kindness to everyone around us. It requires a big heart, an open mind, and plenty of positivity. 

Begin by finding a comfortable seated or lying position, gently close your eyes, and grant yourself permission to detach from the day’s worries. Following that, select a few affirmations from the list below that deeply resonate with you. 

Softly repeat the affirmations with an internal whisper. When you feel the affirmations have sunk in, move on to use the same phrases you used for yourself but replace ‘I’ with ‘we’. As you repeat the ‘we’ affirmations you want to expand your care to all beings – animals, humans, and mother nature. The idea is to gradually open your heart to care for all. Imagine you are nurturing a bright shiny light, stemming from your heart, and it’s illuminating the world around you.


  • May I be happy and healthy.
  • May I attract abundance and positivity.
  • May I trust that I can overcome challenges and thrive.
  • May I experience gratitude.
  • May I be safe in community.
  • May I be filled with joy and peace.
  • May I be at ease with the reality I exist in.
  • May I be fulfilled, grounded, and purposeful in this life.

Loving-kindness meditation helps create an attitude of genuine kindness both towards yourself and others. This meditative exercise enables us to experience a profound sense of hope and warmth, which is particularly powerful and healing in times of struggle.

Just five minutes a day can improve your mental health. However, we must remember the impact of a single session might not be clear. Often, the benefits of meditation manifest gradually over time.

In this video, join Hannah for a 10-minute loving-kindness meditation:

Tip: Before beginning the practice, consider writing out a gratitude list. Gratitude journaling has the power to connect us to a deeper sense of compassion and love, perfect for priming our minds for a loving-kindness meditation session.

3. Quick and easy meditation 

It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. All you need to do for this meditation technique is ensure your hands are free.

You want to hold one hand out directly in front of you and trace the outline of that hand with the index finger of your other hand. Inhale as you trace one way, and exhale as you go back the other way. Gradually deepen your breath, tracing slower as your breath slows.

Tip: Pay close attention to your index finger as you trace your other hand. Imagine you’re painting with a brush – each time you trace the outline of your hand, you enhance the clarity and depth of the painting.

4. Vipassana meditation

This ancient meditation technique requires you to focus purely on observation. It’s not ideal for individuals who are new to meditation as it necessitates a great deal of mental strength. Vipassana is all about noticing your inner monologue (what you are thinking and feeling) in the present moment and assuming the role of distant observer.

It’s difficult to abstain from reacting to the rollercoaster of emotions we experience as humans. We consciously and unconsciously react to the thoughts that surface all the time, but we don’t have to. The premise of Vipassana meditation is to refrain from immediate reaction and instead practice being a mindful witness to our internal dialogue. The essence of mastering the art of observation lies in watching over the thoughts with gentle curiosity, without attachment.

Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and become the observer of your thoughts. Watch them reveal themselves and refrain from giving in to the temptation to control them. See your thoughts as clouds in the sky – you can gaze upon them from a distance and know they will drift away.

Tip: If a negative thought triggers panic or anxiety, that is OK! Thoughts can momentarily unsettle us, but remember, every thought and feeling has an expiration date – it’s not permanent. Allow the thought to exist, and know that it will eventually dissipate.

5. Object meditation 

This visual meditation technique emphasises gentle concentration. The idea is to select an object to gaze upon, ideally, something that brings you joy or a good feeling. I like to light a candle or place a pretty vase in my bedroom at eye level.

You want to hold your attention on the object by observing its colour, shape, texture, and other features that you naturally notice. Completely engage with the essence of this object. If thoughts momentarily arise that distract you from the object, notice what is happening and softly refocus your attention.

Tip: If you find yourself losing interest and getting bored – engage your senses. Make a mental note of any smells, sounds, or feelings associated with the object before you.

Many people decide to meditate to achieve a desired outcome. Common desires and expectations of meditation include feeling calmer, de-stressing, and boosting happiness. While these are outcomes many long-term meditators experience, you won’t necessarily feel you’ve met your goal after one session. Furthermore, expecting a specific outcome each time you practice can set you up for disappointment and hinder your experience from flowing as it’s meant to. 

Try approaching each session with little, or better, no expectations. The only aspect you have control over is the technique you choose to follow to get into that meditative state. Beyond that, you must be accepting of what feelings arise during and after the session. Release yourself from rigid expectations and self-judgment, and simply observe.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of meditation with a professional, find a holistic therapist near you today.

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Written by Alessia Sutherberry
Alessia is a coach, content creator and writer who cares deeply about making people feel good about themselves. She helps people understand where their self-limiting beliefs stem from so they can foster self-awareness and self-love.
Written by Alessia Sutherberry
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