Everyday life demands that we focus on the external world and plan for the future. As a result, we develop a habit of turning our attention outwardly - that is how the laundry gets done and dinner gets made, after all. So it's completely understandable that when we sit for meditation and try to focus our attention inwardly, our minds wander, drawn away by sensory stimulation or by memories of the past or thoughts about the future or ... or ... or ...
Meditation is the 7th of the 8 limbs of Classical yoga. It is the process of maintaining an unwavering, sustained focus on some object or internal physiological process (like breathing). Preparing for meditation requires us to hone our ability to concentrate (the 6th limb). Most of what we think of as 'meditation' exercises are actually concentration exercise that prepare us for getting into a meditative state - a flow state of continuous uninterrupted attention. In order to reach a meditative state, we must practice concentrating first.
A favourite concentration exercise of mine is the 31-points of light meditation (preparation for the 61-points exercise).
It is a great practice for a mind that likes to wander. The 31-points practice encourages your thoughts to move (through 31 specific points), spending just a moment on one point before moving to the next. It can train your mind to become inwardly oriented, calm and orderly.
Lie down and listen to the video for a quick run through the 31 points. When you’re familiar with them, you can practice without guidance and gradually increase the amount of time you spend focusing on each point.
As you practice and grow your ability to focus, you may find yourself slipping into a meditative state.
Amanda Tripp, Yoga/body nerd and woman of a 1000 opinions