Meditation: Breath Counting

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Meditation: Breath Counting

Welcome to November, our month dedicated to Kindness, where we explore what it means to be friendly, to be generous, to be considerate. So often our exploration of these qualities comes at moments when we are able to be still and at peace, as being generous and considerate rarely come to us first hand in moments of stress or upheaval. 

For our meditation exploration this month we will explore a few ways to use counting to bring us back to the breath, to allow ourselves hooks to loop our fluttering mind back to the breath, and back to places of soothing and calm. Our hope and belief is that through setting up patterns of these spaces of quiet we can build our own capacity for kindness, both to ourselves and to others. We continue to offer ourselves multiple pathways to meditation, knowing that we will all have our go-tos, perhaps this will be one of your connectors. 

Breath Counting – Length

One way to establish a connection with the breath is through establishing the length of the breath, by simply counting the length of the inhales and the exhales. Breath counting is a nice and simple way to keep the mind and the breath connected to one another. 

  • One technique is to add the label of the the breath: Inhale 1…2…3. Exhale 1…2…3.
  • Another is to simply count. 1…2…3….4. (switching to exhale)1…2…3…4.
  • A third way to connect with the breath in this manner is to count Up on the inhales and Down on the exhales. Inhale 1…2…3. Exhale 3…2…1. 

Breath Counting – Labeling

Another way to play with the breath and numbers is to label the beginning and end of the breath. 

  • 1 starts the inhale
  • 2 ends the inhale and transitions to exhale
  • 1 ends the exhale and transitions to inhale
  • 2 ends the inhale and transitions to exhale

A progressive way to practice this practice is to have each inhale begin with 1, and allow the exhales to build corresponding with the number of breaths. 

  • 1 starts the inhale
  • 1 ends the inhale and transitions to exhale (1st breath)
  • 1 ends the exhale and transitions to inhale
  • 2 ends the inhale and transitions to exhale (2nd)
  • 1 ends the exhale and transitions to inhale
  • 3 ends the inhale and transitions to exhale (3rd)

A pyramid approach to this would be to count up to 10 and then reverse the counts back down to 1, which would be a nice morning meditation practice 🙂

All of these provide us with the opportunity to still the mind, and we may find a point in the practice where we can gently release the counting, in whatever form, and sink into a place of quiet. Be generous with ourselves, as the days ebb and flow, allow that kindness!