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How can I stop my mind from wandering during meditation?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

There are many different types of meditation;one of the most important things to remember in any meditation is that it's natural for our minds to wander. In mindfulness meditation, there is a name for this: "monkey mind". This refers to the fact that, for most of us, our mind is constantly chattering at us. If you think of your mind as your monkey chattering away at you, this can help you have more patience with yourself, which actually helps your mind to settle down a bit as you judge yourself less for wandering.

As you continue your practice, if you find that your mind continues to wander, try practicing mindfulness meditation with an activity that is very engaging for you. Mindfulness is about present moment awareness and acceptance - in other words, paying attention to one thing that you're doing in this moment, with your full attention, and with acceptance. If you can find an activity that you're already easily able to engage in - say, listening to music, cooking, watching your favorite TV show, reading, etc. - then your attention will be more likely to stay put. From there, you can expand your practice to other things that might be more difficult for you, like breathing exercises or body scans. Make it as easy as you can for yourself so you don't get frustrated, and you'll find this in itself helps keep your mind more focused.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.