Thursday, June 24, 2010

Breath Counting Meditation

This breath counting meditation is designed to improve your ability to hold the mind steady, without wandering. It is not very elegant or spiritual, but it does strengthen your "concentration muscles." Breath counting can be part of a regular routine of meditation.

Counting your breaths gives your mind something to focus on so. When distracting thoughts arise, you can come back to your counting. The method is easier to understand than it to do. The goal is to do this meditation with full mindfulness. Success comes from repetition.

1. Find a quiet place, calm yourself, and try to get rid of distracting thoughts from your mind.
2. Start in a sitting position, either in a chair or on the floor. Gently close your eyes.
3. Take slow, deep breaths and count each breath, one on the in-breath, two on the out-breath, three on the next in-breath, etc., up to ten.
4. After reaching ten, start over.

This is much more difficult than it seems. What’s going to happen is that your mind will begin to wander. If that happens and you lose count, begin the count again at one. Sometimes your mind will want and you will count past ten. When you realize you have drifted, begin at one again. This difficulty is so common that it has a name. It is called "monkey mind", where your mind jumps from one idea to another like a monkey jumping from one branch to another.

The goal is to learn how to notice when your mind begins to wander so that you can bring it back to the meditation again. The counting is a feedback to help you know when your mind has drifted off. When your mind wanders off and you return to your counting, you are improving your ability to focus. Every time your mind wanders and you bring it back to the meditation, it is like exercising. Your “concentration muscles” get a little bit stronger.

© 2010 Eric Borreson

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