While you are beginning to meditate, it is easy to bigger and bigger issue, until you are put off the entire practice, so it's important to have some basic techniques for dealing with distractions.
Physical discomfort is a major one. First of all, make sure that whatever position you choose is actually comfortable for you. Although it is important for your posture to be good, there's no point attempting a full lotus position if it causes you any problems.
But even if you are sitting, lying or standing comfortably, you are still likely to feel tingling or numbing sensations in different parts of your body. This is not an endurance test, so gently move the bit that's annoying you just a little, then return your focus to your meditation. When it happens again, move a little and then return your attention. By the next time, you should find that you are meditating and any itching or numbness just doesn't bother you.
People who meditate for very long periods may move from a standing to a sitting position or even walk around for a bit. The important point is to maintain your inner focus.
Bubbling thoughts are probably the biggest distraction for most people. You start off successfully focusing on your breathing and then suddenly you are thinking about what's for breakfast or what time you need to collect your dry-cleaning. You try to push the thoughts away. Then the floodgates open and you are thinking a whole scramble of thoughts. They seem to be coming thicker and faster than usual.
Don't try to control your mind. Your mind is boundless and flowing, just like the universe itself.
What you need to do is ‘sit back’ from your thoughts. Don't force them away. Acknowledge them and try not to engage with them.
Let the thoughts get smaller and smaller, like tiny boats sailing across the ocean. Soon they will sail over the horizon and you will return to your meditation. Feel patient, because that thought may well come back to bother you.
Another way of detaching from your thoughts as you learn meditation is to notice the darkness of your inner eyelids. Notice yourself noticing. You will feel almost as if you are sitting back observing the darkness. Now use that same observer to watch your own thoughts.
If you need to, you can try exhaling stray thoughts. So imagine that you inhale light and then exhale your unwanted thought.
Finally, just focus again on your breathing. Come back to your meditation.
If you feel sleep coming to you, don't fight it, but concentrate on your breathing and try to allow the sleep to brush over your head and behind you. This may sound odd, but try it.
If that doesn't work, take a few deep, slow breaths, then do a series of about 10 rapid, shallow ones.
If you are using a mantra, say it louder or aloud. Say it faster and then slower. Varying the volume and rhythm will keep you focused.
It sounds ridiculously simple - you sit down, focus your mind on one thing for a while and you're meditating. But anyone who strives for the benefits of meditation knows that somehow it doesn't quite work like that. So why not try some meditation techniques that have been tried and tested over thousands of years by literally millions of people.