I can’t do a thing without an intention to do that thing. So to practice, “I am going to pay attention to my breath”. I take a breath and think about food. So I reset my intention on the breath. Then think about comics. Science has shown that multitasking doesn’t exist, so how do you do one thing?
Look at each action you take as steps, drinking coffee, is reaching, picking up and bringing it to the lips, swallowing, putting back down again. Every action, in Buddhism thoughts are actions too, starts with an intention followed by the next moment where you are doing one of the steps. Each of these tiny little micro-steps provide an opportunity for the choice of another path. My hand is stiff and hurts when I reach for the coffee, my brain wanders to MS, carpal tunnel, how many stretches I did in the morning and I can spend hours moaning about any of those.
The trick is, try and watch my intentions arise to head off on other paths when I select what is next. Obviously this happens so fast I”m not going to see it when I drink my coffee. And do I really want to spend my day focused on my coffee drinking habits? I”d never get anything done.
That’s why I spend the time meditating on the breath. It’s simple, always there and I can focus on it. Buddha offers steps, first how long is each breath, then what is happening in my body, what is fabricated from this breath and how it feels in my feet, fingers head and across my whole body.