"SSSHHHHhhhhhhh!!! wait ! listen! do you hear that?"
--have you ever heard somebody say this? it means that there is a strange, very faint sound, so you have to be really quiet to hear it.
So, do that. Listen for a very faint sound.
while doing this, instead of actually trying to find a faint sound, just become aware of what your EYES are doing. they are open, and they see, but because your mind is focused on your hearing, at that moment you are not actually looking.
This takes a few tries. But it is effective. Focus on hearing but be aware of what your eyes are "doing". Not what they are "seeing" but what they are "doing".
This method, of putting you attention on hearing, is one way of working through the visual distractions of the mind.
The Surangama Sutra that talks about hearing.
Another way to do this is to be aware of what is going on in your peripheral vision, sort of what is seen at the edge of your eyes.
the point is to take the mind off the visual input.
For focusing on breathing, try counting the breaths up to 5 or 10 or 21 and then starting over.
Thai monks also suggest on the in breath think "Bhu" and on the out breath think "dho" so you are basically thinking "Buddha".
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth. Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.