There are many formal types of meditation. I don’t generally pracitce any formal kind, but instead use various techniques to calm my mind and focus. I either close my eyes to eliminate visual distractions or find something beautiful to view like a tree outside my window, a mountain stream or waves crashing on the beach. A fire or a candle flame also work well to help me clear my mind of distractions.

Especially since I began formal mindfulness and yoga training, I intentionally focus on my breath, either by counting and breathing or simply intentionally filling my lungs and emptying them fully for several rounds. Breathwork (pranayama) helps me to clear my head and settle my body in for meditation.

As a young adult, I began meditating daily at a Quaker summer camp around the fire circle. These early experiences helped me to gradually build my ability to sit comfortably in silence for 20 minutes at a time. As I became an adult, I learned to be still in the silence for an hour or more in meeting for worship. In all honesty, my mind still wanders repeatedly if I sit in silence for an hour, but I am pretty successful with clearning my mind for 10 to 15 minute increments. I redirect myself when I find my mind has wandered, but this is why my morning routine includes a 10 to 15 minute meditation. That seems to be my natural amount of concentration.

If you are interested in developing your own meditation practice, I recommed three apps that I have shared with my students: Headspace, Calm and Insight timer. Each of these tools has free trials that give some helpful tools and tips to improve your meditation experience.