And the mistake you should not make when you start meditating is to think that because you cannot keep your thoughts away, switch off your mind completely, therefore you are not meditating. NewsFlash: Even if thoughts show up you are indeed meditating. According to Transcendental Meditation (the one I practice every day, usually twice a day), thoughts are stress being released. They are not your problem, your enemy, the thing on your way to meditate. They are just a part of it. Embrace it. Let it be. And let it go. Just don’t be attached to any of them. In TM (Transcendental Meditation) we use a given mantra to mentally chant when thoughts pass by. The idea is to bring the mantra when thoughts show up and let it go as well. The mantra is personal, but you can actually choose one mantra and focus on it whenever a thought comes up. It helps.
In my case, sometimes I just let the thoughts be. Because knowing that thoughts are stress being released helped me a lot to let wherever happen, happens when I sit to meditate. Without any need to control the experience. That was my a-ha moment, my breakthrough. And it was because I am a very mental person. My mind is always active, never shuts up. So fighting it, trying to control it was not helping me, au contraire. And ever since I just accept that as it is, my meditation has improved immensely.
And yes, thoughts are still very much part of it. An a-ha moments are very rare. But what I feel afterwards is that my mind is rested, more calm despite all the thoughts coming and going; I get more focus, more relaxed and yet feeling more energetic. That is why I meditate: to give myself this break to recharge.
So, don’t measure your meditation skill by how empty you let your mind be; measure by the way it makes you feel afterwards, when you go back to your daily life.