• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • For many years the philosopher Immanuel Kant gazed out his window at a church steeple during his ponderings. You don’t have to be a philosopher, or spend a lot of time, to get benefit from training your focus on a physical object. Your visual sense is a dominant part of your experience: visual processing takes up about 30% of the total number of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Stabilizing your attention on a physical object—any object—leverages your visual orientation in the service of building your capacity to focus. The aim is to focus your attention on any object with curiosity and openness, exploring it in detail without making judgments. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back.

    The object you choose doesn’t really matter: it could be a leaf, a cup, or the handle of a drawer. Choosing a neutral object (rather than, say a photo of your ex) is probably a good idea—though even that doesn’t really matter, as long as you stay curious, open, and in the present moment as you look.

    I have a solar powered bobblehead monkey on my windowsill that has become my object for a simple informal focusing practice. Because it moves and makes a funny creaking sound, it reminds me to step back periodically from whatever I’m obsessing about.

    Try It: Choose a physical object in your environment that you can regularly focus your attention on. Take 30 seconds once or twice a day to observe it with curiosity. Notice the details, like colors, shapes, and the way the light falls on it. When your mind wanders, bring it gently back.