When meditating are there easier ways to focus instead of visualizing my breath? I have a hard time concentrating and keeping my mind from wandering when meditating. Does this get better with practice? And what are tips to get better?

Kelly Z.
Don’t think about it as being ‘easier’ or ‘harder’ or having a ‘goal’ from meditation. This is something I heard when I began practicing and it was counterintuitive, almost specifically designed to sound esoteric and the key to some hidden mystery. But, it is just as simple as it sounds. It isn’t about getting better or worse, don’t judge, just observe. When you notice your mind wander, observe the thought, bring your attention back to the breath, or the feeling of your body against the chair, etc. I would recommend not considering it in terms of scales, as ‘getting’ better – this isn’t to say the concept of improvement is antithetical to meditation, simply that concentrating on ‘getting better’ and self judgment will hinder, not help, your practice. I do recommend some apps, such as ‘Waking Up’, or ‘10% Happier’, or ‘Headspace’, I have used all three of those (and there are many others of course), but some guided meditation and discussion can be instrumental in helping you develop your practice without judgment.
Courtney F.
It does get better with time. Keep on meditating, if you find it hard to focus on your breathing try focusing on sensations in your body. Or pick a particular sound to listen to, it could be birds or an a/c motor.
Ivanka F.
I really like counting my breaths to help me focus. In breath is “1”, out is “2”, next in is “3”, and so on until 10. If you get distracted start over at 1. If you make it to 10 start over at 1. I also definitely think the focus and concentration gets better with practice. It’s like a muscle, you have to use it and exercise it to make it bigger and better.
Jeppe C.
Yes for me it's hard as well. So along with breathes, I use a montra to help me stay focusses. Also, I meditate at a time I'm less stressful and it help to say focus longer
Reinhard W.
Try counting as you breathe. You can count “one” on the inhale and “two” on the exhale, count up to ten, and then start over. Also treat wandering thoughts with gentleness and acceptance, knowing that they are inevitable. Just patiently come back to focusing on your breath once you realize your thoughts have wandered away. Learning patience is part of the practice. You can even learn something about yourself if you begin to realize, over time, that your mind keeps wandering to the same thoughts or the same type of thoughts,
Victoire Y.
Don’t despair because your mind wanders. That is what the mind does. I have friends who are Zen masters and teachers. Their minds wander, too; but they note it has wandered much sooner and bring it back to the moment more quickly. One expert meditator told me to bring the mind back in the same gentle manner which a kindly grandmother guides a wandering toddler back to the kitchen table to sit. When you become aware that your mind is chasing some train of thought, just lovingly bring it back to here and now.

If you have an opinion about watching your breathing, perhaps you can center using something else right here and now — the almost imperceptible movement of the air on your skin, or the random sound of nearby wind chimes, or a flickering flame on a single candle.

When your mind wanders – and it will – bring it back with tenderness for yourself. You’re doing it.

Jesse Z.
I think that it's actually sometimes better to allow your mind to wander, providing you are aware of it and can bring your focus back. It helps me to become aware of the the things that are bothering me the most and I can think my way through them from start to finish.