Focused Attention

Focused Attention: Some Ideas

Ask Jes in session if you would like a more detailed explanation and guided practice.


  • Basic: Focus on deep breathing without engaging your thoughts. When your thoughts arise (and they will), simply label it  “thinking” and go back to your breath. Over and over again. You are training your internal muscles for attention/focus. 
  • “Breathing in, I smell the flowers. Breathing out, I blow out the candles”
  • Quick breaths: Rapid belly-button inhales for 30 seconds & then a long exhale.
  • Alternating nostrils: Inhale Left nostril 4 seconds (hold Right), hold both 7 seconds, exhale Right nostril 8 seconds (hold Left), inhale Right 4 seconds (hold Left), hold both 7 seconds, repeat
  • Candle flame: Use a candle to gaze at/focus your attention without engaging your thoughts
  • Tonglen: Breathing in other’s pain/negative energy & breathing out compassion/light
  • Rocking: Notice as you meditate, a slight internal rocking sensation (like candle flame bending) and let your body follow this internal sensation as it rocks you
  • Walking: Slowly walk and focus on the heel, ball, toes, weight shifting without engaging your thoughts
  • Hugging: Slowly embrace your loved one and remember that this moment is precious & not guaranteed to come again. Pause and hold for several seconds as you hug. 
  • Engaged: Pick any activity and do it with one-pointed attention (i.e. washing dishes)
  • Mindful attention: Resting your attention on whatever arises, without getting hooked. Spacious vs object focused
  • Sitting in nature: Without electronics & without engaging your thoughts
  • Guided: Look up online or apps (Head Space, Insight Timer, Calm) or go to class; use smart watch app that vibrates on your wrist for each inhale/exhale
  • Wim Hof breathing technique: Look online for instructions
  • SKY breathing technique: Look online for instructions


  • Healing light: Imagine light entering your body from head to toe and healing.
  • Warmth: Imagine gentle warmth of the sun or a blanket comforting your body.
  • Tucked in & Held: Imagine a weighted blanket grounding you or letting the floor hold you up as you sink in and let your body be held.
  • Happy place: Imaginary place, favorite memory, comforting spot, etc
  • Circle of compassion: Imagine the kindest and wisest people you know (loved ones, mentors, best friends, deceased) or don’t know but aspire to or share the same values with (spiritual figures, leaders, authors, role models, etc) circling around you offering their deep love and empathy. // Start by imagining a comfortable spot that is just for you. Imagine sitting upright, just as you are right now- happy or sad or scared or calm. Now imagine a circle of dearhearts. Now imagine one person who deeply cares about you and/or that you admire drawing near. One by one, picture someone you cherish or look up to or who taught you a lesson-of-the-heart coming towards you, pausing and bowing, honoring you and all that you are and stand for and represent. // Imagine their utmost sincerity in their eyes, their tenderness and compassion for you, their pure love- imagine them witnessing you. Imagine them knowing all of your heart and imagine you knowing theirs in this moment. Feel the connection and the gentle mirror they hold for you inside themselves. Feel how they see you and find you to be magnificent, how they cheer for you, and validate every hunch and intuition and reason and intention. Imagine them understanding all of your mistakes and knowing they hold their own as well. Imagine them smiling into you, a CareBear stare of sorts. Imagine them nodding yes to you. // Imagine them blessing you as they take their seat in the circle each begins to create for you, one witness at a time. Now imagine the next, and the next, and the next- as you are held with unconditional tenderness and respect. 
  • Panicky child: Imagine yourself holding a panicky child (i.e. your vulnerable self, your inner child, your anger, fear, etc) and every so kindly, gently soothing this being/feeling.
  • Body scan: Imagine slowly scanning & “feeling” your body from your toes to head.
  • Neutralizing two opposing outcomes: Imagine two different choices & each corresponding outcome of circumstance and feeling, like a fork in the road. Now, slowly walk back from both choices, both outcomes, from the fork to the center of your mind. Slowly feel yourself detach from needing it to be either way, how you are still whole and maintain your own inner peace regardless of what happens. Keep walking backwards so that the fork is in the background of your mind and your center is in the foreground. 
  • Feeling one’s heart: Close your eyes and lay your hand on your heart, attuning to the rhythmic beating and noticing how you feel coming back to the simplicity of your pulse. Notice how your heart beats for you- from a wisdom all of its own, without any effort on your part. How it wants you to be okay. Consider the extremely wild and extraordinary probability that you are alive. 
  • Inviting path: Visualize yourself walking along an inviting path. Once you have that image, move your focus to inside your body and as you walk further along the path, towards the sights and sounds that you are attracted to. Describe the experience of what is happening inside you (thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise) and what happens next. 
  • Progressive Muscle Relax: Slowly contract, hold, and release your muscles from your toes to your head, one by one. 
  • From Pema Chodron/Softening Practice (what is rigid in your heart): Notice what is making you feel tense, then relax and soften your heart to create emotional space around your judgments/preferences/control/expectations of how it should be right now.
  • From D. Krausche/Breathing in the Universe: Breathe and bring in the spirits for healing /And give of yourself (arms extended) /To the world and life on Earth /To the sun and the moon /To the planets, like Venus and Mars and Jupiter and Saturn /To all the stars of the Milky Way /To the trillions of galaxies far far away /To the universe and beyond /To beyond the beyond


  • 5 Senses: Use your senses (hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling) to ground yourself to the present moment through your entire body and out of your head (thoughts of past or future). Go through each sense and identify 5 things grounding you right now through your body. 
  • Counting forward/Counting backward/Counting backward by 7
  • Emotional Freedom Technique: Tapping pressure points. Look online for instructions.
  • Intentional Postures: Put your body into powerful positions: such as with your shoulders back, chin raised, spine upright/chest out, legs spread out, arm up, etc. Or, put your body in calm positions: such as stepping away, dropping your shoulders, unclenching your teeth, lying down and not “doing” anything, smiling/laughing at oneself, palms up and open, etc. 
  • Prayer (prayer rope/beads)/Mantras-Chanting-Kirtan
  • Drumming/Sound healing
  • From worksheet

Soothing restlessness

  • Fidget spinner/Silly putty
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Mini-treadmill under desk
  • Online task simulators
  • Adult coloring books
  • Sorting activities (e.g. organizing kitchen or art supplies or closet, etc)
  • Super easy or difficult puzzle