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Focus On Your Finger And Your Background


By shifting our visual attention, we can learn more about how the mind operates in regards to where we place our attention.


Choice over mind


Learn about the significance of moving around our visual attention.


Focusing on our finger in front of us.


When we have a quiet moment to ourselves.


One minute per object.



This is a simple exercise most people can benefit from straight-away without too much effort.

Certainly, it was one of the first awareness exercises I learnt when I was starting out with my own mental health journey, and it’s one that has stuck with me since.

This exercise involves manipulating your visual field in order to change the depth perception of the objects in front of you, notably your finger and the foreground.

It’s a powerful exercise because humans are largely visual creatures, and so to rapidly change our focus so vividly can help us better understand the power which we have over ourselves and our perception of reality.

At a conscious level, we may not realise the extent to which we have control over ourselves and in particular our thoughts, feelings and even senses.

On the other hand, demonstrating first-hand that we do have control over these things aspects of our consciousness is a great way to open our minds and dissolve some of the self-limiting beliefs we may have about what we’re capable of as people.

In other words, help us detach from the misconceptions within our own minds, including our ego and all things conceptual.

And the fact that what we’re doing here is conscious is really key here, as we’re trying to demonstrate power over our mind through our actions.

Because that’s ultimately what awareness is all about - learning to use our minds effectively so we no longer allow our subconscious fears and behaviours to control who we are.


While the instructions for this exercise are simple, the real benefit comes from the introspection that comes from practicing this exercise.

No different to any other awareness exercises.

In order to practice this exercise, what you’ll want to do is place your hand in front of your face with one finger pointing up.

Essentially, have it far away enough so you can see your finger clearly, but not so close that… I’m sure you get the drift.

Now, what you’ll want to do is focus on that finger. Simply focus your vision on that finger, and notice what you see.

If practiced successfully, you should be able to see your finger very clearly. I mean, it is right in front of your face, afterall.

Now, ask yourself a few questions. Are you able to focus on anything else while focusing on your finger? What about the background, are you able to focus on that as well?

Once you’ve done this for about a minute-or-so, I now want you to focus your attention on something in the background.

It could be a tree. It could be something on you wall. Generally, the further away it is the better this works.

And with your focus shifted, I want you to gauge your change of perspective and truly understand the significance of what you’ve achieved here.

With your focus on that object in the distance, what do you notice? Are you able to see your finger clearly at all?

Ultimately, this exercise teaches us a few different things.

It teaches us that although we can have two objects in front of us, where we place our attention ultimately dictates what our experience will be.

In addition, it also teaches us the importance that we play as individuals in regards to how we perceive reality.

When we focused on the background, our finger itself didn’t change. What changed was our perception of that finger, due to where we placed our attention.

There are also a number of additional lessons we can learn from this exercise, however I’ll leave that up to you to explore!

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