Focus

Find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Apart from your (not too intrusive) timer, leave your tech out of sight, sound and reach. Make yourself comfortable. Set you timer for your chosen period, and set it going.

If this is new for you, start at maybe 5 or 10 minutes a day and build up over time to 30 or 45, but don’t be too dogmatic; it is better to do a few minutes a day than nothing.

Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sitting upright but relaxed, imagine you are a puppet with a string coming out of the top of your head, from which you are suspended. Rest your hands on your thighs (palms down), or in your lap (palms up).

Look straight ahead, with a soft focus. Without moving your head or shifting your gaze, become aware of whatever is in your field of view. Be aware of your peripheral vision – up, down, left and right – as well as your central vision. Try not to analyse what you can see, or to react to it. Just be aware of it.

Take four or five deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. As you breathe in, feel the abdomen fill, the chest expand, and (if they do) the shoulders rise. As you breathe out, feel the sense of deflation and relaxation spread through your body.

As you complete the last out-breath, close your eyes, let your breath go back to it is normal pattern, in and out through the nose, and move your attention to the feeling of your body in your chair.

Now shift your focus to the weight of your hands and arms on your legs or lap. Now, feel the ground beneath your feet.

What, if anything, can you taste? What can you smell? What you can hear?

Take a mental step back and get a sense of your body as a whole. Is there is a sense of lightness or a sense of heaviness, or perhaps neither? Is there a sense of stillness or of motion?

Focus your attention on the top of your head, and start steadily scanning down your body: eyes; ears; mouth; neck and throat; arms and hands; upper back and chest; middle and lower back; buttocks and sitting bones; things; knees; calves; ankles; feet and toes.  Note at each place you pass through whether there is a sense of comfort or discomfort, tension or ease or, perhaps no discernible sensation at all. ‘Tight’, ‘loose’ and ‘neutral’ are useful labels.

When you become aware that you have been distracted, just pick up the scan at the last point you remember. If you feel an emotional reaction when your attention passes through any part of the body, just note that too and move on.

Once you have finished the body scan, stop and note your mood. How do you feel?

Ask yourself why you are doing this today. Bring to mind some of those who will benefit from your doing so.

Turn your attention to your breath, wherever you feel it most strongly. Do not try to control your breath, just let it breathe itself. How is this breath compared with the last? Longer or shorter? Deeper or shallower? Quicker or slower? Smoother or more ragged? Is it one continuous movement, or does it come in waves? Is there a pause between in-breath and out? If so, is it long or short? Or is the change instant? If so, does it feel seamless or sudden?

After a few moments, focus your attention on the rise and fall, the in and out, of your breath. When thoughts or feelings or images intrude, do not try and stop them. Equally, try not to get lost in them, just be aware of them.

When your timer goes off, move your attention back to your feet, then move it up your body quite quickly, just noticing where you might feel stiff from being still or cold, or whatever it might be.

Shift your focus to your hearing, starting with the internal, then any noises close by, then further off as you reconnect with the outside world.

When you are ready, open your eyes. Do not get up straight away. Notice how you feel, compared with when you first sat down, before getting on with your day.

Photo by Jonas Svidras from Pexels

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