Guidance for Beginners
Today, a quote from Women on the Buddhist Path, a collection of stories and experiences of Buddhist women from the East and the West by Martine Batchelor (pg. 40-41).
In learning concentration complete beginners might find it easier to watch their breath with an aid. If they like numbers, they can count their breaths. If they like words, they can use words like 'love' or 'peace'. If they are visually inclined, they can use an ocean wave. Visualizing the breath as an ocean wave, coming in and out, can help concentration, as can breathing in 'love' and out 'peace'.
Once people are a little more concentrated, they can follow the beginning, middle and end of each breath, or follow the sensations accompanying it. They can rest their awareness on the numerous sensations between nostrils and abdomen.
Then I would lead into impermanence by seeing the impermanence of the breath and thoughts. If you label your disruptive thoughts, you will get an idea of your habitual thought patterns. We use one descriptive word such as 'future,' 'past,' 'planning', 'remembering', 'wanting', 'rejecting', 'resisting', 'bored', 'disinterest', 'nonsense', 'fantasy', 'dream'. It doesn't matter which word comes to mind first. Eventually you can see a pattern, for example that you are constantly planning. When you notice your thought patterns in this way, you can see they are non-productive and drop them.