There are always going to be days when it will be difficult to find your focus. Let’s face it: distractions are everywhere these days. You can be doing everything correctly with your meditation and then a ringing phone suddenly disrupts everything. If nothing seems to be helping to get you into the zone, then here are some unique ways to find your focus so that you can continue benefiting from the practice of meditation on a daily basis.
#1. Choose a method of meditation that is personally interesting.
Position and the type of meditation will always be a secondary priority to the focus that meditation requires, but far too often we reverse the priorities. Sitting in the lotus position, repeating some mantras, isn’t that appealing to some people. There are some days it doesn’t appeal to me either. There’s no other way to describe this type of meditation – it can get boring. When the mind is bored, it begins to wander. Suddenly you have no focus and you’re thinking about what else needs to get done before bedtime.
The lotus position isn’t the only way to meditate. Sitting in silence to focus your thoughts on a single point isn’t the only way to meditate. There are literally hundreds of combinations for meditation because biological variability dictates that we are all different in some way.
If you aren’t comfortable, then you aren’t going to focus. Consider practicing loving-kindness meditation, where you focus on the ways you love other people and want them to succeed, while just sitting in a favorite location. Take a walk. Take a shower. Be yourself and your focus will find you.
#2. It’s an attitude of contentment.
When it comes to meditation, an attitude of gratitude is often recommended as a key point. Being grateful for our family, friends, and other components of life is important. I agree. Yet there must be contentment within that gratitude to find a focus that has gone missing. Being grateful can still exist when you want more. Being content means you are happy with where you are right now.
Picture 5 things that provide you with the most contentment. It can be tangible items, a best friend, or even your favorite cat video online. Now feel that contentment flood through your chest. Allow it to reach your fingers and toes.
Don’t lose that feeling. You might feel warm. You may feel joy. What you are doing while you’re picturing your contentment is finding your focus. If you can find your focus in just one simple way like this, it becomes easier to focus during more difficult periods of meditation and life. If nothing else, think about what causes you to smile, picture that in your mind, and you’ll be working on your focus.
#3. Count your successes instead of your failures.
Let’s say that you’ve set aside 10 minutes to meditate today. As you get comfortable and locate your contentment, you notice that you’re able to focus for about 4 minutes. The other 6 minutes is spent thinking about random things. You try to label those thoughts and make them go away, but it just isn’t working. The average person would say that they failed in their meditation.
I would disagree. I would say it was successful. One of the traits we all share with each other is that we base our definition of success on perfection. A hitter playing baseball can strike out 5 times and then hit a game-winning homer and be considered a success. A wide receiver can drop every pass and still count a game as successful if they catch the last one for a game winning touchdown. Why can’t we then count 4 minutes of focus as a success?
If you can find your focus, but you can’t keep it for the entire amount of time you’ve set aside for meditation, then you’re meditating too long. It’s better to meditate for 4 minutes rather than try to force yourself into 10 minutes. It’s better to start small when meditating at first anyway so your body and mind can get used to the practice.
#4. Put on some music that doesn’t make you want to sing.
I’ll be sitting in my car at a red light, jamming out to a great song, when reality comes back and I realize I’m not on stage somewhere. There will be a few strange looks from my fellow drivers more often than not. I’ve had pedestrians stop and stare.
We all have our favorite songs. If we’re not actually singing along with them, our minds are doing so as the lyrics come along. Music can be an amazing tool to use to find a focus when nothing seems to help, but it can also be one of the world’s worst distractions. If you are going to use music, don’t throw on your favorite playlist because it’s your jam.
Instead consider using audio that will help you pay attention to what your body is trying to say. Classical music is always something that works well. Instrumentals in any genre can work, although if you find yourself playing air guitar with your best Bill and Ted impression, you might want to find something else.
Personally I prefer brainwave entrainment audio for meditation. I’ll put on a track for 15-20 minutes before meditating and then meditate for another 15-20 minutes. You can also meditate while listening to the audio.
#5. Create your own space.
I love to travel, but I hate having to go to bed at night. My bed is my space and it is my protection from the storms that life throws my way. I feel safe and secure there. Ask me to sleep somewhere else and it takes me several days to adjust to the new sleeping arrangements. Why?
Because I’m not in my space. Meditation tends to work in the same way. If you don’t have a dedicated space that is for meditation only, then create one and you may just find your focus at the same time. It is true that you can meditate virtually anywhere. If you are meditating in different locations every day, however, it is virtually impossible for the mind to set down the roots of safety and security it needs to let the world go.
Your space doesn’t have to be anything special. If you need to hide in the bathroom behind a locked door, then do it. If you’ve got a secret spot in the woods behind your home, then that’s awesome and we should become friends. Without consistency in this area, we’re actually encouraging the mind to not focus because of the constant change. That’s why having a space to call your own is so important.
#6. Meditate without ceasing.
You don’t have to be religious to find knowledge in the words of a holy book. The book of 1 Thessalonians, for example, encourages people to “pray without ceasing.” If you’re struggling to find your focus, then I would encourage you to “meditate without ceasing.”
That doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in the lotus position all day. It simply means that you allow yourself the chance to experience the perfection that every moment has to offer. There is something special in the rough feeling of a wall, or the heat reflecting off of a sidewalk, or even the gentle breeze of a fan on a hot summer’s day as the movement of air caresses your face.
Some moments are difficult to find some perfection, but it’s all about perspective. A long wait in line gives you the chance to reflect on favorite memories or create a to-do list for the rest of the day. A screaming child throwing a massive tantrum is evidence of the miracle of life. Look for those perfect moments and as you’re looking, your ability to focus will increase.
#7. Create a point of focus.
If you are still struggling to find your focus, then maybe you are a visual creature by nature. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just means you’ve got to give yourself something interesting to look at that won’t distract you from the purpose of meditating. Many people in this situation will light a candle.
Don’t want to light a candle? There’s nothing wrong with that. I have a good friend who turns on his fireplace in winter or starts his grill in the summer when he needs a point of focus. I’ve seen people sit on a beach to stare at a single rock. As long as it is a visual cue that tells your mind that it’s time to start ignoring the rest of the world and it works, then use it.
When nothing seems to help, it can be difficult to find your focus. When that focus can’t be found, it becomes much easier to give up the practice of meditation. Don’t allow yourself to give up. Use these methods to find your focus once again and you may just find yourself looking forward to your meditation time every day.
Luke Glowacki is an avid fan of meditation and contemplation. He also loves listening to binaural beats and isochronic tones as he believes that they have a positive influence on the brain and help one to achieve their full potential. He hosts a website at http://meditationbrainwaves.com where he writes about meditation, lucid dreaming, brainwave entrainment, brain waves and a lot more.