The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.
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30-Day Mindfulness Challenge – Focused Attention Meditation

January 20, 2022 / by John Engel, MA

Week 2 of the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge started Wednesday, January 19. During the (optional) weekly Challenge Zoom session we engaged in a focused attention meditation practice. This post includes a brief summary of the event and resources to sustain your personal practice.


Focused attention meditation is a practice for strengthening focused attention in the present moment. The practice invites participants to actively engage in present moment focus with the support of these anchors of attention:

  • internal anchors – such as places where our body comes in contact with another surface
  • external anchors – such as sight, sound, and smell

As we engage in this practice, we notice that our mind wanders…replaying events (e.g. the strong words you spoke in this morning’s team meeting, worrying about the safety of the children you support, or something that happened in your personal life). This is what minds do; it’s part of being human. The good news is that EVERYONE has the innate capacity to practice – gently, and without judgement – noticing that our mind is wandering. That in itself is a mindful moment! And with this awareness, we can then choose to direct our attention back to our chosen support anchor – feet, seat, hands, sound, etc.

The more we engage in this type of practice, the stronger our mindfulness muscle becomes. In turn, this builds our capacity as RC treaters to naturally apply our focused attention in daily work: "Oh, I notice that my mind is wandering and now I choose to redirect my attention to the individual I’m supporting, or the colleague with whom I’m collaborating."

Challenge Tips

Consider the following steps as a way to sustain your successful Challenge experience:

  • Recommit to your Challenge intention
  • Experiment with Focused Attention Meditation using this 9-minute audio recording (a version of the meditation used in our community session)
  • Consider the prompts found in the Challenge Tracking Calendar
  • Record daily minutes of practice in your calendar 

Micro Practice (1 minute or so)

STOP (by MBSR Founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn) Used to help calm the nervous system in stressful situations or as you go through the day.

  • Stop what you are doing
  • Take a few conscious breaths and feel your feet on the floor or your sitz bones in the chair
  • Observe what is going on inside and around you (sensations in the body, thoughts, emotions)
  • Proceed with what is next, with more connection and conscious choices

Tags: Mindfulness

John Engel, MA

Written by John Engel, MA

John Engel, Program Coordinator at the Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers, where he serves as a trainer and consultant for agencies adopting whole-system change to trauma-informed care. John also facilitates strategic change initiatives and product development for TSI, including development and launch of the Online ARTIC Scale. John also leads mindfulness in the workplace initiatives, including design and delivery of a webinar entitled, ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace: Practices for Sustaining Trauma-Informed Care,’ a day-long virtual training event, ‘Mindfulness: The Inner Work of Racial Healing and Trauma-Informed Care, ‘Monthly RC Mindfulness’ pilot and a ‘30-Day RC Mindfulness Challenge.’ John is a Certified Workplace Mindfulness Facilitator (CWMF), is certified in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and has participated in virtual and in-person Mindfulness in the Workplace Summits by Mindful Leader.