According to Shankar Nair, Ph.D., an assistant professor of religious studies at University of Virginia, there are manifold Sufi meditation techniques for quieting the mind and reaching meditative states. In this video, Sonima’s founder, Sonia Jones, sits with Nair to explore some of these techniques. Nair focuses specifically on what’s known in Sufism as Fikr, sometimes referred to as Muraqaba—techniques that help focus the mind through invoking God’s name.

Related: What is Sufism?

Some orders, Nair tells us, use focus on vibrancy and color to help cultivate the mind, while others might use focus on vice and virtuous counterpart for finding meditative presence. The end goal is proximity to divinity, and purity of thought, but the avenues of reaching these blissful states of awareness and devotion are diverse. Following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad, some Sufis take spiritual retreat, where they do Fikr meditation practice alone and secluded for as many as 40 days.