What to Think About When Meditating: Key Points for Enhanced Focus

Discover practical focal points for your meditation practice to enhance mindfulness and clarity.

Key takeaways:

  • Focusing on the breath anchors the mind and brings presence.
  • Focus on the present moment to prevent wandering thoughts.
  • Cultivating compassion expands empathy and reduces isolation.
  • Reflecting on core values promotes self-connection and direction.
  • Set intentions before meditation to guide focus and enhance experience.

The Breath

the breath

Focusing on the breath during meditation anchors the mind to a natural, rhythmic process that embodies being present. Inhale deeply and observe how the air fills your lungs, expanding your chest and abdomen. Exhale gently, noticing the sensations of release and relaxation. These simple acts of awareness bring you into the now, easing the mind away from distractions.

Notice the coolness at the tip of your nose as you breathe in, the warmth as you breathe out. This temperature contrast can serve as a subtle yet powerful point of concentration. Each breath cycle offers an opportunity to deepen your focus and refine your sense of mindfulness as thoughts come and go. Embrace the simplicity of just being with your breath, allowing it to guide you deeper into a meditative state.

The Present Moment

Focusing on the present during meditation anchors the mind, preventing it from wandering into past memories or future anticipations. Here are some practical points to enhance your present-centered awareness:

  1. Notice Sensations: Pay attention to the touch of air on your skin, the support of the ground beneath you, or any other sensory experiences. Observing these sensations without judgment keeps you rooted in the now.
  1. Mindful Observation: Acknowledge any sounds, smells, or tastes in your environment. Let them pass without attaching stories or evaluations to them.
  1. Observe Your Thoughts: Watch your thoughts as they appear. Visualize them as clouds floating by in the sky—separate from you, transient, and without the need to chase them.
  1. Practice Acceptance: Embrace the present moment exactly as it is, without attempting to change it. Welcome your current state with an attitude of acceptance.

By concentrating on the present moment, you create a space for mental clarity and tranquility. Remember, each moment is unique. The more you practice, the deeper your connection to the present will become.


As you gently anchor your awareness on compassion during meditation, imagine the feeling as a warm light spreading from your heart center. Visualize this light extending to loved ones, embracing them with kindness and understanding. Gradually, let this warmth reach those with whom you have neutral feelings, acknowledging our shared human experience.

Then, extend this light even further to include those you may find challenging, recognizing their humanity and your potential for growth and forgiveness. This practice cultivates a profound sense of interconnectedness, nurturing empathy and reducing feelings of isolation.

Holding space for compassion in your practice can also mean offering kindness to yourself. Accept your thoughts and emotions without judgment, offering self-care and love as you would to a close friend. This self-compassion is a cornerstone of inner peace and resilience, creating a foundation that supports mindfulness in every aspect of life.

Your Core Values

Reflecting on personal core values during meditation serves as an anchor, promoting a sense of self and guiding decision-making. These intrinsic beliefs—such as honesty, kindness, or courage—often lie at the heart of who you aspire to be.

Considering each value individually, while in a meditative state, can deepen your connection to them. Visualize moments where you’ve embodied these virtues and how they’ve shaped your interactions. This visualization process can instill a powerful sense of purpose and clarify your life’s direction.

Beyond mere reflection, envision future scenarios where your core values guide your behavior. This exercise not only affirms these values but also prepares you to act in ways that are congruent with your authentic self, fostering a life of integrity and fulfillment.

The Intention of Meditating

Before sitting for meditation, clarify your purpose. Different intentions can guide your practice and influence the direction of your thoughts. Perhaps you aim to reduce stress, improve concentration, cultivate gratitude, or explore spiritual concepts. Aligning with this goal at the outset can help maintain focus and enrich the meditation experience.

Consider setting intentions that resonate with your current life: seeking clarity on a challenge, nurturing inner peace, or manifesting a personal aspiration. Allow these intentions to gently anchor you throughout your session, returning to them when the mind wanders.

Remember that intentions are not goals demanding achievement; they are guiding stars that provide gentle direction. Embrace them with a mindset of openness and curiosity, allowing thoughts that align with these intentions to arise naturally.