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What is the Meaning of the Black Dot? 


The meditation technique that helps you focus.

By: Taylor McKinnon | Photos: Kit and Ace

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Here’s a riddle: what’s small, round and contains the key to your focus, calm and creativity? A black dot, which according to many mindfulness experts, is a wise place to start with meditation.

But before we delve into the black dot, stop and take a tally of the various things staking claim in your headspace at this moment: that email you have to send, whether you’ll make that post-work spin class and where to go for lunch.

This is the modern day mind, according to Moment Meditation co-founder Anita Cheung. “The brain is busy; its job is to think just like how our eyes see and our ears hear,” she explains. “It’s a very human thing to need to focus – animals don’t have goals they need to motivate themselves toward, whereas as people, we work a lot with the intangible.”

Enter the practice of meditation, the long-established exercise of attempting to still one’s mind for periods of time throughout the day. Experts and practitioners maintain that in exchange for a bit of daily dedicated focus, you’ll see benefits like better mood management, decreased stress levels and increased creativity. This may sound like a no-brainer, but Cheung maintains it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.

“The mind is going to think, wander, get distracted – it does that at any waking moment, even if we’re meditating,” she explains. Her go-to analogy? Picture your meditating brain as a puppy on a leash in a busy park – sometimes it just needs a gentle tug in the right direction. And so the black dot.

“This is why we have a visual point of focus like a black dot – so that we always have something to call the mind back to,” she explains. According to Cheung, focus points are common across many different meditation practices – and they don’t always need to be small, round, and black. “The black dot’s beauty is in its simplicity, but it can be replaced with pretty much anything,” she says. “Whether it’s your breath, a white light or the flame of a candle – the key is to choose something you can constantly return your focus to, like a beacon for the mind.”

Looking to try your hand at a focus point exercise? Cheung’s advice for first timers is to start slow – even five minutes is enough to begin with.

“Observe your body and how it’s feeling, watch your breath like you’re watching a movie and notice when your mind starts to wander,” she explains. “That’s when to bring it back to the black dot. Visualize it in your mind’s eye and have it anchor you to what’s here and what’s now.”