I currently use two methods of meditation.
The first one and the one that I do twice a day (Morning and evening) is what I will call the focus method. At it’s most basic level it is just focusing on something and whenever you realize that your attention has wandered you refocus it on whatever it is that you are focusing on.
I focus on the feeling of my hands in my lap. I initially began by focusing on the breath but I found that rhythmic noises in my surroundings distracted me. I also found that I kept trying to control the breath or rather I couldn’t let the breath relax. I find that the hands are perfect because they are stiller than the breath and because of this I find that I go into a deeper stillness.
The second method I use is to just let my attention do what it wants but try and maintain mindfulness. So in this method I’ll just sit down in the same position (position doesn’t really matter IMO), ground myself in the feeling of my hands in my lap and once I’m present I let my attention wander over the sounds in my environment, feelings in my body and thoughts that I am having. Whenever I realize that’s I’ve lost presence – that is become lost in my thoughts. You know carried away by the mind – I bring my attention back to the hands and then let it wander again.
The second method I do after I’ve been out for a run. It’s pleasant to watch the body cool down. It’s almost like being in a car after you’ve been for a long drive and you can hear the clicks and noises it makes as it cools.
Sometimes I find that my mind is constantly distracted and I can’t maintain focus for very long at all. That is fine. Even feelings of frustration are fine; they are things that you can watch.
It’s not about being able to keep a clear mind for the full span of time. And it’s not about maintaining focus for the whole span of time. What it is about is bringing your attention back to your anchor – the thing you are focusing on – whenever you realize it has wandered. That it crux of the discipline. When you realize you have drifted off and you are faced with that choice: to continue in the appealing and pleasant fantasy or to come back to the feeling in the hands. What you do then is the practice. Not how long you can keep focused.