Learning to focus our attention is an important skill.
However, I would also argue that it’s quite an advanced skill that should only be attempted once you feel more comfortable being aware in general.
In fact, it’s an exercise which builds upon Observe Your Senses so it makes sense to master that first.
Otherwise, we can truly struggle with this exercise, and more often than not when people attempt to learn this exercise first, it almost always leads to more confusion than clarity.
So please do not proceed until you’ve mastered more fundamental awareness exercises.
What is focus?
The funny thing about focus is that it’s a bit of a paradox, at least according to conventional wisdom.
A lot of people treat focus as if it’s supposed to be this kind of intense period of concentration, which is designed to consume all you energy and attention.
In reality, effective focus is not like that and cannot come from tensing up and trying ‘really hard’ to get into that mental zone.
Instead, effective focus comes from being calm and relaxed with a clear intention in mind.
I mean, I’m sure anyone could maintain intense focus by trying ‘really hard’ however it certainly wouldn’t be effective in the sense of being in control.
Ultimately, you cannot focus effectively if you’re spending all your mental energy on creating an environment in which you feel comfortable to focus.
Because then you’re left with significantly less energy to actually focus, and instead it leaves you incredibly vulnerable and quite ironically, without focus.
Definitely, not fun.
As stated earlier, if I had to describe what focus is.
I would say that it's nothing more than awareness with a clear intention.
Which is to say that it’s the same thing as being aware in the traditional sense (i.e. observation), only now you’re choosing an intention outside of simply being aware of your senses.
This is why I say that you must first learn to master basic awareness before moving onto these kinds of exercises.
Because it actually requires more skill to remain calm and aware, while also selectively focusing on a certain aspect of your awareness.
Which people generally find more difficult than simply being aware of all their sense.
In essence, it’s easier to be fully attuned to all your senses at once without focus, than it is to be fully attuned to just one of your senses
Simply because there’s less overhead.
There are essentially two key steps towards performing this exercise.
First, relax and put yourself into a state of unconditional awareness, as per the instructions in Observe Your Senses.
In this state of mind, you should have completely emptied your mind and become fully attuned to your senses.
Then, once you have achieved this, attempt to place your attention on a very particular aspect of your awareness.
It could be something visual, like a lamp or a door. It could be a sound that is occurring in the background. It could be a physical sensation that you’re experiencing in your body.
Play around with it and see where your mind takes you.