There are different techniques that we can employ in our meditation practice. We can do them individually or combine them, based on what suits best for our needs.
In the counting technique, once we are settled, we start bringing our attention to our breaths. We don’t need to change our breathing, but just observe our breaths and identify where the rising and falling sensations are taking place. You can focus on one area where you find it most prominent, be it your shoulders, chest, solar plexus region, or belly.
As we observe our breaths, we will realize that every breath has a unique nature. Their quality may be either slow or fast, short or long, or shallow or deep. Then, begin counting your breaths. As you inhale, count 1, as you exhale, count 2, as you inhale again, count 3, and so on, until you reach 10. Then start again at 1 and keep repeating this process. Once you are comfortable with this, you can count only when you exhale.
As we do this, it is normal for thoughts to surface. Once we realize that our mind has wandered off, all we need to do is bring our attention back to our breath and begin counting from the number we left off at. If we can’t remember the number, then we can let it go and again start at 1.
What we need to understand in this technique is that as breath is the object of our meditation, we are only observing it and in no way rushing or slowing our breathing. We are letting it happen at its own pace and rhythm. As we train our minds and strengthen our focus, we may eventually be able to focus on our breaths without counting.
Irrespective of where you are in your meditation journey, you can always fall back to the counting technique when your focus derails. Feel free to customize the counting technique based on what suits you best so that it’s easier for you to count and focus. We can use this as a foundational technique to set ourselves up for a different meditation technique if we like, or simply count our breaths till the timer goes off.