How to Overcome External Distractions to Mindfulness Meditation

By Shamash Alidina, Joelle Jane Marshall

A distraction is something that takes your attention away from whatever you’re focusing on. As a meditation beginner, you may want to reduce external distractions as far as you can, but beyond that, distractions are useful — they’re opportunities to see how your mind reacts to your attention being drawn away.

The figure shows a simple way to manage distractions in mindfulness practice.


Mindfulness can make good use of distraction and turn it into a learning experience. The secret is to open your attention towards the distraction with non-judgmental curiosity and acceptance.

Here are three tips for managing distractions:

  • Open your attention towards the distraction for a while. This helps you to stop fighting the distraction, thereby wasting less energy. Mindfulness is about awareness, not avoidance.

  • As a beginner, you may find distractions particularly frustrating. If so, find a quiet area and practise mindfulness there for short periods of time — say ten minutes to start with.

  • Let your whole meditation be focused on the distraction. If you can hear the noise of your children while meditating, practice mindful listening and just listen to the sounds without judging them.