Then blossom decks the bower's bough
the bothie blooms, the sea meads gleam
the wide world racks the restless mind
of him who on the full flood tide
determines to depart
The Seafarer, ~02140 YOLD. Translation by Charles Harrison Wallace
The word sefa (/ˈsevɑ/) is Old English for sense, mind, or spirit. It stems from the Proto-Indo-European root word sap- which means to test, to taste, and to search out. It is the same root from which we chose our name, homo sapiens.
Sefa practice is a testing and searching of the inner world. The purpose is to observe the mind and body as they are, without distraction or narration or distanced aversion.
The basic method for sefa is to select a bodily sensation that engages the senses directly and then to pay attention to it, without internal commentary or diversion. A common choice is to pay attention to the breath – the rising and falling of the chest, letting it take its own pace and pauses. It is also often useful to scan the body and attend to the posture, points of tension, or points of contact with the floor.
In effect, any aspect of bodily perception may be attended to, as long as it can be experienced directly through the senses and without a filter of mental chatter. Sefa can be practiced while waiting for the bus, cooking dinner, sitting on the floor, or having sex.
Undoubtedly, you will only be able to maintain this unified focus for a few moments or minutes at first, before your mind wanders and starts to engage with other things.
To understand what is requires a state of mind in which there is no identification or condemnation, which means a mind that is alert and yet passive. We are in that state when we really desire to understand something; when the intensity of interest is there, that state of mind comes into being. When one is interested in understanding what is, the actual state of the mind, one does not need to force, discipline, or control it; on the contrary, there is passive alertness, watchfulness. This state of awareness comes when there is interest, the intention to understand.
The First & Last Freedom ~ J. Krishnamurti
The goal of sefa is not to train yourself to avoid the wandering, but to cultivate a habit of remembering: to notice wandering and, after you do, to remember to return back to the chosen focus for the practice. This wandering and reactivity of our minds is operating at all times throughout our lives. The purpose of sefa is to learn to see that clearly, and to know it through direct inquiry.