Focus can be helped by using the senses.
Burning incense or 'room fragrance' oils prompt awareness of the breath. Breathe in deeply and out very gently 'as if a feather is under your nose and you don't want to disturb it'. Think of breathing in the Spirit and breathing out sin and hurt. The rhythm of breathing can be matched to a rhythmic prayer: Perhaps the whole 'Jesus prayer' ('Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner'.) or just 'Jesus' (in) 'mercy' (out).
The sound of a small bell, or something similar, is a clear sound which rings on and gradually dies away. Focus on it, really listen to the sound and follow it into silence as it dies away. It is still, in fact, ringing but too quietly to be heard. The sound can be repeated at intervals if it is helpful to recall the wandering mind.
Visual focuses are many and various. A lighted candle, an icon, a few flowers, or a few pebbles in a bowl of water. According to temperament they offer associated ideas for meditation or a mental image when the eyes are closed.
This poem has been a valued 'lead-in' to prayer, and points in turn to different aspects of ‘playing the tune’. It works well if 'Say the prayer again' is substituted for 'play the tune again'.
A Lesson in Music
Play the tune again: but this time
with more regard for the movement at the source of it
and less attention to time. Time falls
curiously in the course of it.
Play the tune again: not watching
your fingering, but forgetting, letting flow
the sound till it surrounds you. Do not count
or even think. Let go.
Play the tune again: but try to be
nobody, nothing, as though the pace
of the sound were your heart beating, as though
the music were your face.
Play the tune again: It should be easier
to think less every time of the notes, of the measure.
It is all an arrangement of silence. Be silent, and then
play it for your pleasure.
Play the tune again: and this time when it ends,
do not ask me what I think. Feel what is happening
strangely in the room as the sound glooms over
you, me, everything.
Now, play the tune again.
from 'Weathering' by Alastair Reid (Canongate Publishing, 17 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DR; 1978).