Counting Breaths

For some people, counting breaths can be very helpful to help settle the mind and develop concentration. It serves as feedback to let you know that your mind has drifted.
  • This method can be used for the entire meditation session or just for the first part of the sitting, until the mind calms a bit.
  • Silently count each breath, beginning with one and count up to ten.  Each count includes an entire cycle of inhalation and exhalation.
  • Some people prefer to count during the inhale, and some during the exhale, either is fine. One can also count during both the inhale and the exhale: 'One' for the inhale, and 'One' for the exhale... then continue with two and so on…
  • When you reach ten, you start over.
  • Keep most of your attention on the physical sensations of breathing.
  • If you get distracted, start over again at 'one'.  It doesn’t matter how far you get, just start again.  You are training the mind, not trying to accomplish getting to 10.  The starting over is an essential part of the training.  Any time you are starting over at one, you are being mindful.
  • Even if you only notice 2 breaths in a row, just by coming back and starting again, you are accomplishing the practice.
  • Sometimes our attention can drift and we might not notice until we have counted up to 20 or 30!  It doesn’t matter, back to 'one'.

More Complex Counting:
  For some, adding a level of complexity to the counting can be helpful.  You count up to ten, just like above, but when you reach 10, you begin to count back down to one.  Then start over again from 1 to 10 and 10 to 1.