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Focus Methods in Mindfulness: Advantages and Disadvantages

Shinzen Young | 8:33


When we look at the whole field of mindfulness, all the different ways that mindfulness is taught, uh, and so forth, uh, you know, by different lineages, teachers in general, we can classify, um, the focus method. In terms of, um, are they just letting the attention sort of go wherever it goes? I call that free floating and then, you know, being aware where it is going.

Are they saying, okay, we're gonna systematically sort of scroll through the possibilities and then start again? I call that inventory, or are we gonna try to cover all the possibilities at once? I call that even coverage. Easiest to understand with regards to the body, but can be generalized to any sensory experience.

I have a technique that, uh, I call noting body locations. So here the categories are body locations and it's just, okay, let your attention go wherever it wants to go and no knee, face, you know, uh, stomach probably. You know, 95% of the people in this room have, have done that with me upon occasion. Well, I would say that's a free floating strategy.

You're just sort of, as it comes up, yes, you can exercise some control, but it's basically what pulls you and the elements. Here are the various locations of sens.

By way of contrast, a systematic inventory is okay. We're gonna go through the body part by part and sample what's. And then maybe repeat that cycle, which could be done in any one of dozens of ways. Um, you could go sort of like band by band or you could go like, let's take the right, the right leg, the left leg, the right arm.

The left arm. Or if you wanna be fancy, Uh, and get down to really subtle levels of sensation and really subtle levels of flow. You can attempt to continuously sweep the awareness either over the surface of the body or even like a, a cat scan right through the body. That can be up and down, right to left, left to right, front to back, back to front.

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