Most types of meditation involve paying attention to your mind, then gently bringing your attention back to a chosen focal point if your mind wanders. The focal point itself varies from meditation to meditation. What you focus on can make a big difference on your meditation experience.
So why not experiment with what you focus on? Here are 20 ideas for things to try. See which one(s) create the most powerful experience for you.
1. The Breath.
This is perhaps the most common type of meditation. Focus your attention on your breath, and simply bring it back to the breath whenever your mind wanders.
2. The Body Scan.
Pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Start from the top of your head and slowly move your attention down. When you get to the floor, change directions and slowly move back up.
3. The Present Moment.
Instead of focusing on something specific externally, simply focus your attention on being in the present moment. Experience what’s happening right now, moment by moment.
Focus on your emotions. What are you feeling? What are the layers and subtleties to those emotions?
5. Emotional Triggers.
Trace an emotion back to its cause. What triggered that emotion? Are there unconscious emotional triggers at play? Don’t beat yourself up about anything – simply observe your emotional triggers with compassion and curiosity.
Focus on your own sense of compassion. On your care and love for others around you. Allow this feeling to grow and expand.
Bring to mind a person who has wronged you, or whom you perceive to have wronged you. Allow yourself to feel and experience all the emotions associated with that experience, then slowly let them go. Choose to forgive.
8. Your Core Values.
Explore what your core values are. What do you really care about? What do you stand for? How are those core values present right now?
How inspired do you feel right now, in the present moment? Explore the intricacies of what makes you feel inspired, or why you don’t feel inspired.
10. Your Goals.
Think about some of your most important goals. What comes up when you think of them? Do you feel excited? Pressured? Do they feel challenging or undemanding?
11. The Humanity of Others.
Think of the people in your life. Remind yourself that they’re human, just like you. They’re a conscious, feeling, thinking being, just like you. Tap into a shared sense of humanity with the people around you.
12. The Suffering of Others.
Becoming aware of the pain of others can be a potent way to develop more compassion. Think of people around you who are in pain, whether physical or emotional – those you know from personal or professional life, or people you see suffering who you don’t know personally (perhaps someone you read about in the news or witness in your community who is having a difficult time). Let their suffering in, and respond with love and compassion.
Focus your attention on your own sense of happiness. How happy are you now? What does it feel like to put your attention on your happiness? How could you increase your sense of happiness in your life?
14. The Heart of the Rose.
A simple meditation from “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.” Meditate in front of a rose, and simply focus on appreciating its beauty. Notice the color, the fragrance, the softness of the petals – even the dangers of the spikes. Fully appreciate the rose for what it is.
15. Breathe in Light, Breathe Out Stress.
On your inhale, focus on breathing in positive emotions like love, compassion and inspiration. On your exhale, focus on expelling negative emotions from your body, such as stress, anger or resentment.
16. Soothing Music.
Play a piece of soothing music in the background. Focus just on the music, on allowing yourself to really experience the music fully.
17. White Light.
Meditators often find that visualizing white light is calming and rejuvenating. Visualize this light flowing into you through your breath, or emanating from your heart.
18. A Conversation.
This meditation is useful when there’s a conversation that your mind is stuck on. First, let yourself think about that conversation for a few moments. Then, bring your attention back to the present. Now pay attention to the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that arise. This can help dispel any lingering feelings related to that conversation, or create discernment for what wise action you may want to take.
19. Conscious Eating.
Try meditating while you’re eating. Try to savor every bite, and really experience your meal as you’re eating it.
20. Space and Expansion.
The vast majority of matter is made of space. See if you can feel a sense of vastness, to feel space itself. You are, after all, floating through space at this very moment. Can you experience what that’s like, not as a concept, but as a present moment experience?
These are 20 very different potential ways you can focus your meditation. Try out the ones that sound most interesting to you. Let us know how it goes!
Find a Search Inside Yourself training near you to learn more meditation practices and emotional intelligence strategies you can bring to work and life.