Quiet Your Mind with this Focused Attention Meditation

You can use this portable practice at work or at home, whenever you’re in need of a quick break to refresh your mind.

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You know when you have something you need to do but you just can’t focus? Despite your earnest intention to get the job done, any (and every) distraction pulls at your attention like a dog seeing a squirrel. Instead of finishing the report, you find yourself scrolling through Instagram or researching recipes. You get everything ready to begin your project, and the next thing you know you’re standing in front of the refrigerator (for the second time in an hour) wondering what to eat. You start to write the evaluation and midsentence remember the email you forgot to respond to the day before.

When your mind seems stuck in pinball-machine mode, it’s nearly impossible to force yourself to focus on one task. That’s when you need to gently guide it away from the romper room to a quieter, calmer den. “It’s all about refocusing your attention, calming down your nervous system, and coming back to center so you can move forward in your day,” says Ali Katz, author of One Minute to Zen: Go From Hot Mess to Mindful Mom in One Minute or Less.

When your mind seems stuck in pinball-machine mode, it’s nearly impossible to force yourself to focus on one task.

The “Name Three Things” practice can help. Katz likes to use it when in need of a quick work break or a refocusing moment to ground her when she’s feeling scattered.

Before you start, let out some of that kinetic energy by standing up, moving around, perhaps swinging your arms and stretching your body, or by getting a glass of water. Then, come back and try this: 

A Simple Meditation to Boost Focus

  1. Name three objects you see in the room, one at a time. You can do this aloud or silently to yourself. Just take a natural breath, look around, and name one thing you see. Take another breath, and name another. Take a third breath, and name a third. For example:I see the desk chair. I see the light. I see the door.
  2. Next, name three sounds that you hear. If it helps, you can close your eyes. For example: I hear the fan. I hear my breath. I hear a car on the street.
  3. Then, name three feelings you are having right now. For example: I feel tired. I feel cold. I feel lonely.
  4. Now you’re going to do the same three steps, but this time naming just two objects that you see, two sounds you hear, and two feelings you have. When you’re done, do it again, and this time, name just one thing that you see, one you hear, and one you feel. 
  5. When you finish, take a full, centering breath, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Notice if your mind feels a bit more settled. Go back to your day.