There is a version of both focussed and unfocussed active meditation, but the real aim of proper active meditation is for it to become totally detached, so in essence it is wise to address both kinds of active meditation together. The basis is to follow the principals of meditation as they apply to passive meditation – that is to say that the method must be short, repetitive and simple. This is achieved in many ways, and I have known someone that does this through running. They recite their rosary (they are Catholic) under their breath as they run, and the combination of the repetitive words, their own breathing, and the steps they take while they run proves to be the perfect situation to sink into a meditation and they in fact used this very technique while doing the Comrades Marathon. Given that they started running at the age of 50 I think it shows what meditation and focus can do! While in the military we had a habit of chanting as we ran, this performed the same thing, allowing the mind to ignore (in part) the pain and tiredness and just keep going. My favorite method of active meditation, since I practiced Karate for most of my life, is to do one of the Kata over and over again until I get into the zone. I personally do not like the idea of running as a meditation all that much due to cars and sudden lamp posts, unless you are on a treadmill, but a kata works out to need a very defined space which you can make sure is clear first.
It is interesting to note that the Vikings used a kind of ‘kata’ with a chant as part of the training exercise, all formed along the shapes of the Norwegian Futhark. Of course the most world famous kind of active meditation is none other than yoga, and the easiest to learn (But not the easiest to do, trust me in this) is the Surya Namaskar, the Salute to the Sun. It is an excellent morning and evening form, is not too long, and the main actions are easy to learn, and it combines with breathing. This makes it possibly the most excellent method of active meditation that there is, and it also only needs a smallish space to move in. Active meditation is the very best place to start with meditating as in the beginning you can focus on getting the moves right, which in itself teaches you to focus. As you progress and get the moves right then you can start to focus on your own body as it moves, recognising and acknowledging it. Finally when you achieve a true meditative state you can leave behind bot action and body and allow your mind to focus on the synchronicity that you have with the universe, and thus achieve a decent meditative state.
But why all this effort? Why do we want to meditate anyway? Aside from the no doubt cosmically essential unifying of the mind and soul with the rhythms of the cosmos, practically speaking meditation is a very useful tool in that it calms the mind (ADD, ADHD, stress, overworked, emotional, etc, etc, all benefit greatly from this.), it provides a chance to slow and focus so that you are able to consider problems and work out better solutions, it provides training for the mind that allows far better focus in other things especially studies, It helps train the mind and thus avoid mental problems like Alzheimer’s, it improves memory and recall and most importantly it allows you to take a moment just to STOP. Anyone involved in any serious way in a religion will attest that it aids their religious growth too. All in all it is a practical and essential tool everyone should have and practice regularly. That said, of course, it is an art form, and like any art, you DO have to practice it and do so regularly to keep being able to do it. It does take work, and it is certainly not an overnight skill that you will pick up. I would say that in a couple of months you will start to see the benefits and in a year you should be fairly proficient. Remember that there are people that spend lifetimes mastering this art and achieve somewhat miraculous effects from doing so – the Tibetan Buddhists, the Indian Yogis, the Japanese Samurai and even the Ninja. Pagans use it often in their work and studies and Christians use it in their prayers. It IS that good, and it is thus a very worthwhile art.