What is Focused-Attention Meditation?
Focused-Attention Meditation (FAM) is a form of meditation in which the person pays intense attention to something in the present, calming down racing thoughts at the same time. That thing may be a sound, an object or a sensation. This is different from classic meditation, where you direct your attention to nothing to keep your mind silent. FAM is helpful for people who want to meditate to relieve stress and rumination.
Tips for FAM
Select an object to focus on
While the object can be pretty much anything to choose for FAM, if you are new to FAM, focusing on your breath is a good starting point.
Get into a cosy spot
If you sit on the floor, ideally be supported with a meditation cushion so that your spine is straight and your thighs are comfortable. If you sit on a chair, position yourself such that your pelvic bones are comfortable with your feet on the floor.
Make your body Comfortable
Relax your shoulders and take deep breaths from your diaphragm. It is optional to cross your legs as long as you are comfortable without dosing off to sleep.
Pay Deep Attention to your Selected Object
Focus on the five sensations of your object such as its sight, smell, touch and sound. The main goal is to feel it mindfully in the present. For instance, if you are focusing on your breath, notice the sensations of your breath as you breathe in and out deeply.
Slow Down your Inner Mind
If your inner voice starts to ruminate of the bad circumstances of the day, worry about the future or anything else, slowly direct your focus back to the object and the sensation it has. You may be paying attention at something, but your aim is to calm and quieten your thoughts.
Don’t Stress About Failing
If you realize your thoughts are racing about the past or future and are not totally engaged in the present, don’t let your inner critic beat you up about your failure. Just give yourself a pat on the back for realizing and gently redirect your attention to your object and the sensations it has.
The below is an example of focused-attention meditation for 10 minutes. Created by Decluttering the Mind, it is one of the more popular meditation videos online on Youtube with about 135k views at the time of writing.
Doing FAM for the long run has many mental benefits, including better emotional regulation, better attention span and better convergent thinking. Still, if you feel frustrated by the experience, you can experiment with other types of meditation to discover what suits you best. Don’t let your perfectionistic side of you beat yourself for “failing”; keep trying. You are sure to experience success in meditating one day.