Point of focus for meditation 
What to focus on?

Having a point of focus for meditation is essential, in order to make the most out of your meditations,

Everything can be used as an invitation to meditation.~~ Sogyal Rinpoche, Meditation

We do not need to look the esoteric but look to the ordinary and the present for a point of focus for meditation.

Practice often commences with ordinary human activities such as breathing and moving. Daily activities serve as the target for the opening of the meditative mind.

As we take in more and more everyday activities, we begin to live mindfully instead of mindlessly as we attempt to

Notice what we are doing as it happens not after it happened. So much of daily life is automatic and neglected.  Meditation brings mindfulness into ordinary life. 

Focus on your Breath

The breath is followed universally as a point of focus for meditation. It is an obvious and simple choice. Bring your attention to the area between your upper lip and your nose, where air seems cool as you breathe in and warm as you breathe out.

Keep your attention there through the meditation session. When thoughts arise, pay no attention to them. They come and go.

They are separate activity of the mind which does not distract you. For you, your mind is focus on the subtle in-breath and out-breath.

Mindfulness of breath is central to mindfulness in life, just as the breath is central to life itself. More reading mindfulness of breathing, breath counting and breathing meditation. 

Focus on an object

It is also important to meditate with eye open. This ensures that the practice of meditation does not serve to isolate you from the outside world.

You can focus on an object 'out there' or one you visualize in your mind.

The focus object can be mental - like visualizing a sun, star, crescent, a cross, symbol of Om, a lotus flower or you personal deity etc.

Or you could have a physical object as your point of focus for meditation, such as a candle flame, tip of your nose, a photo, a symbol a vase or something that evokes a sense of divine.

Some people use a Yantra (a geometrical diagram, like mandala) that serve to point of focus for meditation. Some yoga practitioners focus on the space between their eyebrows or the tip of the nose - finding that it strengthen the eyes muscle and the optic nerve.

Meditation is neither introverted nor extroverted activity.

It is intended neither to turn you too deeply inward nor to direct your attention exclusively outward.

Its purpose is to help you maintain balance and stable in all situation, to attend to whatever is taking place whether inside or outside your head. 

Focus on bodily movement

The best known of this is the ancient art of tai chi chuan, an excellent practice on its own right, that develop balance and coordination and is said to lead to good health.

Practice tai chi chuan takes many years to master, and you need to have a good teacher.

Some other methods include:
Qi gong. This techniques arises from ancient China. Similar to Tai Chi, it integrate physical postures, breathing techniques and focused attention.

Yoga. Yoga involves a series of postures, during which you pay special attention to your breathing - exhaling during certain movement and inhaling with others.

Sufi walking or dancing. This form of moving meditation was developed in medieval Islam, where practitioners walk or dance in a rhythmic fashion while chanting. The intent of the chant is to focus the mind on a specific quality of the divine. You can whirl too for a time, as some whirling dervishes do, and notice how the stillness can be found within activity.

Walking Meditation. Called Kinhin in Zen Buddhism, this form of movement meditation focuses the attention on the feeling of the earth beneath the feet. You can use this technique anywhere - in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or even inside the building where you work.

As you begin meditate it is common to have any or all of the following experiences:

  • You mind wonders. This is quite natural and expected. Just bring yourself back to your point of focus for meditation.
  • You are not sure if you are doing it right. You are most likely doing it right. Meditation is pretty simple to do – more challenging to stay with.
  • You will have memories, images or thoughts that you may have not thought about in years. Just acknowledge them and bring your awareness back to your point of focus for meditation.
  • You start to analyze yourself. Remember this is a time for meditation not for psychotherapy. Analyze later, meditate now.
  • You have certain revelations. Again, acknowledge these and then bring yourself back to your point of focus for meditation.
  • A body part is sore or itchy. The first time you feel something in your body, just acknowledge it and bring your awareness back to your point of focus for meditation. Often, it will go away. If it continues to irritate you then change your body positions.

Whenever you notice your attention moving away from your point of focus for meditation- be it thoughts about the day, noises around you, or an itch, gently guide your attention back to your point of focus.

Again, your mind will try and get you off course, which is simply another reminder to return to mindfulness. Expect to redirect your attention often at first.

Do your best to use a fixed point of focus for meditation and continue using that focus to keep returning to your meditations.

With consistent practice, your ability to focus through meditation will continue grow.

Related reading:

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