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How to do breath counting?

shanyinshanyin Novice YoginSault Ontario Veteran

How do I do breath counting? I don't have a teacher.

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    You could try a guided meditation. I found this one on youtube and it had some good comments responding.

    shanyin
  • shanyinshanyin Novice Yogin Sault Ontario Veteran

    Thank you Jeffrey

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    There are a number of techniques, the two simplest of which are counting both inhalations and exhalations and the counting of exhalations only.

    Counting occurs in the mind and brings focus to the present activity, be it inhalation or exhalation. In the mind -- assuming someone is centering on exhalations only -- it might sound something like, "Onnnnnnnne, twoooooooo, threeeeeeeee, fourrrrrrrr ... etc" From one to ten and begin again.

    If you are alone, it is possible to count out loud.

    If there is an interruption in your counting focus ("I want a Big Mac," "I've got bills to pay," "Do I have enough money to...?" etc.) simply go back to one and begin again. Every time there is something other than counting, just begin again. No criticism, no praise ... just begin again, over and over again.

    Don't be surprised if you can't make it to ten without interruption. Just begin again. And if you do make it to ten, please consider the possibility that you have missed something.

    Patience, courage doubt ... and breathing -- where would any of us be without them?

    shanyinlobsterSwaroop
  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin

    There are many types of breath meditation but most will follow some version of...

    To count breaths as a formal meditation, find a physical position that you can easily maintain with little muscular strain but that is not so relaxing that it fosters sleepiness.

    Pay attention to the cycle of your normal breathing and choose some aspect of it that is noticeable to you. (It might be the air moving past your nostrils, or the rise and fall of your chest, or the movement of your diaphragm.)

    Give each breath a number as this part of breath occurs.
    (this can be on the in breath or on the exhalation or both)

    Try going up from 1 to 10 and restarting again at 1 so it does not become a mindless counting exercise).

    One of the most significant benefits of breath counting is for how it includes our physicality into our moment to moment awareness where we might otherwise just myopically masticate within our mentality, instead.

    lobster
  • shanyinshanyin Novice Yogin Sault Ontario Veteran

    I used to concentrate on the feeling on the nostrils. Now I can't feel it there anymore so I focus on my belly.

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin

    For me...
    I find one of the important aspects of breath meditation is to maintain it as a noticing of the feeling of the breath and not have it just be a thinking or a conceptualizing of the breath.

    I would also check out that your inability to feel the air at your nostrils is not because you are deliberately slowing or reducing your breath. Keep breathing naturally as you normally would.

    lobster
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @genkaku said:
    There are a number of techniques, the two simplest of which are counting both inhalations and exhalations and the counting of exhalations only.

    Counting occurs in the mind and brings focus to the present activity, be it inhalation or exhalation. In the mind -- assuming someone is centering on exhalations only -- it might sound something like, "Onnnnnnnne, twoooooooo, threeeeeeeee, fourrrrrrrr ... etc" From one to ten and begin again.

    If you are alone, it is possible to count out loud.

    If there is an interruption in your counting focus ("I want a Big Mac," "I've got bills to pay," "Do I have enough money to...?" etc.) simply go back to one and begin again. Every time there is something other than counting, just begin again. No criticism, no praise ... just begin again, over and over again.

    Don't be surprised if you can't make it to ten without interruption. Just begin again. And if you do make it to ten, please consider the possibility that you have missed something.

    Patience, courage doubt ... and breathing -- where would any of us be without them?

    I've been meditating so long sometimes I even make it up to 25 or 37 sometimes.

    howSpinyNormanSwaroop
  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin.

    Genkaku has a good message about
    teaching oneself to directly return to the counting each & every time you find that you've stopped counting, without adding any mental side trips of analysis or guilt construction to the process.

    Once you have a bit of consistent practice with breath counting.....
    you could also consider counting with just enough concentration to maintain your breathing meditation focus
    but
    not with so much concentration that you obscure what you should also be naturally seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or thinking during your breath meditation..
    The middle path again.

  • Actually simply counting 1-10 focuses the mind even without the breath being noted. The breath is a subtle object and requires a fair amount of concentration just to notice. What you are doing is trying to feel/sense movement of air (wind element). Doesn't matter if it is felt as abdominal or chest motion or direct air movement at the nostril. They are just vayo or wind element.

    Counting is just a bridge technique which should be dropped once the wind element is prominently felt.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Everything about breath meditation
    http://breathmeditation.org/the-buddhist-tradition-of-breath-meditation

    Be gentle with your breath. It teaches you everything you need to know ...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin said:
    I used to concentrate on the feeling on the nostrils. Now I can't feel it there anymore so I focus on my belly.

    On 8 packets of cigarettes a week, this isn't surprising...

    silver
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin said:> How do I do breath counting? I don't have a teacher.

    If you can find a local Buddhist group or centre and get some face-to-face instruction and guidance, then I would recommend that. If not there are plenty of resources online, one of my favourites is Ajahn Brahm's talks on Youtube, he would have been a stand-up comedian in another lifetime. :p

    In my experience breath meditation works best when you focus directly on the sensations of breathing, and counting can be a distraction to that. So while counting can be helpful initially I would suggest dropping it once the mind has begun to calm. There are different counting methods, I would suggest keeping it simple, eg count each inbreath up to 10 and then repeat.

    It's fine to try out different methods and see which works best, and actually I would recommend some exploration, don't feel you have to settle on one method straight away. It's a little bit like choosing an activity to develop physical fitness, there are often pros and cons and some methods might suit you better than others. Also what works might change over time.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @shanyin said:> I used to concentrate on the feeling on the nostrils. Now I can't feel it there anymore so I focus on my belly.

    It really doesn't matter. Just feel the bodily sensation of breathing.

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    I find it difficult to breathe naturally sometimes when I am counting or repeating mantras. Like I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I can't just relax and do It!

  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2016

    @RuddyDuck9
    That's a good point.
    If you allow the noting of your breath to overpower your other senses, then that is a good description of a concentration exercise.
    If you moderate that noting of the breath to be
    not so weak that you lose your attention to what you are doing
    and not so strong that you suppress your incoming sense data....
    then that's a good description of meditation

    RuddyDuck9lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Been breathing unnaturally most of my life. :3

    Forced attention is part of 'right concentration' but even that has levels of practice. @RuddyDuck9 I do feel that attention and awareness of how 'laboured and agitated', 'forced and unnatural', whatever is the quality of your breath counting, is indicative and revealing.

    You have the insight and @how has provided a potential softening. Holding on to the counting but not too tight ... and not so loose you lose the attention.

    There are different ways of breathing, Buddhism tends to breath in and out through the nostrils.

    One way to soften the breath is allowing the out breath through the mouth. Taoism has circular breathing visualisations. Alternate nostril breathing in pranayama can be done hands free as I was doing a little of this morning ...

    Breathing in Taoism is called 'Tuna' - it's a fish - always a good sign according to lobster lore ... ;)

    RuddyDuck9
  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    It's a process! :) <3

    lobster
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