First of all, you need to know that this perfectly normal, so go easy on yourself and give yourself a break. It would be the equivalent of someone wondering why they can't swim if they've never been in the water, so just chiiiiiill and relaaaaaax ;)
Now that we've set the meditation scene, let's get into why you can't focus
Focus and meditation go hand in hand. One of the major benefits to meditation is to improve your focus and concentration in all areas of life.
Many people beat themselves up that they can't focus, or that they have minds that are too busy, so they're "not good at meditating" and I want to assure you, this can't be further from the truth!
When I first started meditating, I was in my final year of my Masters Degree in Architecture. I was in the midst of researching my thesis, I wasn't sleep well, and I was usually high on some kind of stimulant (legal or otherwise - shhhh don't tell my Mum!).
I could not sit for more than 15 minutes at a time, let alone keep my mind focused on the task of meditating. The mind just bubbled over with 10,000s of thoughts.
It's been many years since then, and I can tell you my record is 4.5 hours (will never do it again though!) without moving a muscle, and I can easily meditate all day with regular breaks. The point is, it was a skill I developed by virtue of sustained practice and as a consequence of the meditation itself.
Now let's talk about the science behind focus
According to the Harvard Medical School,
"Like a computer that slows with use, the brain accumulates wear and tear that affects processing. Dr. Daffner says this can be caused by a number of physiological stressors such as inflammation, injury to blood vessels (especially if you have high blood pressure), the build-up of abnormal proteins, and naturally occurring brain shrinkage."
Through the 8+ years I've meditated, I would expand on this by stating also that a mind full of 10,000's of thoughts leads directly to a lack of focus - this is the number 1 cause for a lack of focus.
The other factors which contribute to poor focus are a lack of sleep, poor diet, and not enough exercise.
I speak from personal experience as there are periods where I'm sleeping for 2-4 hours a night for extended periods and not eating well, but still able to maintain profound levels of focus.
How can you improve your focus then?
We have an entire article on this subject with a list of tips, however here are some more for your benefit.
1) Brain exercises - as mentioned, exercises for the brain will improve your focus, and hey, isn't meditation the best exercise you can do for your brain?
2) Improved sleep - don't burn your mind with blue light before bed, and ensure you're getting adequate sleep.
3) A plant-based diet - the body requires less energy to break down a plant based diet and it fills you up with plenty of goodness. You can eat what you want, but if you want to get the most out of meditation you need to fuel your body the right way. Just ask Sadhguru!
4) Regular exercise - science states that adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week, so if you break that up into 30 minutes, 5 times a week you're expelling good amounts of energy.
5) Get out in nature - if you're living in a place as beautiful as Nundah, Brisbane, even a 45-minute rigorous walk 4-5 times a week will do you wonders.
If you follow the above, it's definitely going to improve your meditation experience, but you also need to actually do the meditation and follow an ideal method for you.
How can this meditation method help you?
There's many types of meditation methods out there. In terms of focus, some are going to be mmore difficult than others to keep that focus during the practice. With this method, there's 3 ways this method can help you:
We have an actual method - which is like exercise for the mind and given that science says all you need is 15 minutes a day to improve your cognitive abilities, this will do your wonders! This is a self reflection meditation so it's actively engaging your mind and your memory using your full cognitive abilities, and because it's goal orientated, your mind is constantly engaged in the process.
The meditation is guided - our prompts and communication with you throughout your session will help keep you focused on the task.
As your clear your mind, your focus improves - and this is what the method is all about, so it's just a consequence of the meditation itself!
Go easy on yourself and give yourself time. Make sure you're taking all the right steps to help you focus, but most importantly, when it comes to focus in meditation, the right method will do you wonders! No one is an expert from day 1, and it would be irrational to think you'd be any different. Even our mate the Dalai Lama famously states:
"Whatever forms of meditation practice, the most important point is to apply mindfulness continuously, and make a sustained effort. It is unrealistic to expect results from meditation within a short period of time. What is required is continuous sustained effort."
So keep up that sustained effort, and if you need extra help, we're the experts and we're more than willing to help!