I’ve used the breath counting meditation for nearly two months now. I’m realizing you get reap more benefits the longer you work with a single “type” of meditation.
The breath-counting meditation is pretty self-explanatory.–you jus count your breaths. More precisely, you count each exhale, up to 4, before you return back to 1 (any higher and you’ll likely lose focus on what number you’re on). Personally, I use “and” on each inhale, so there’s no empty space in my focus. Do it for 10-20 minutes. That’s it.
Sounds easy enough but when you set about doing it, your mind will dart all over the place. Even now, I find my thoughts drifting everywhere: present worries, future hopes, childhood hurts, adult humiliations, etc. Memories emerge that have been suppressed for years. It’s all part of the process. Just be self-compassionate and gently return your attention to your breath.
Over time, the random thoughts become more seldom, from a torrent to a stream, if at all. No matter what “mind-stuff” emerges, it’ll be less disconcerting. This practice literally integrates all our disparate selves into a coherent whole, as they rise up one by one in our mind, and then released. Like, we are all those things we think of, and so much more. And because you have to be gentle when returning to your breath anchor after the internal narrator starts commentating on everything, you gradually grow fonder of yourself, and, indirectly, everyone else.
(For much of our daily existence, we’re held captive to the wiring of our brains as it evolved over millions of years, and it hasn’t adapted to modernity. In fact, our brains are best suited to the world as it was 40,000 years ago.By watching our minds, we can partly liberate ourselves from this evolutionary bondage. Breathing is the outward manifestation of internal states.)
When I really get into the zone during this meditation, I get a chill in the back of my head and neck, feel-good chemicals slosh around the synapses in my brain, like the peak of an amphetamine high.
Aaaannndddd ooonnnneee, aaaannnddd tttwwwoooo, aaannndd tthhrreee, aaannnddd fffoouurrrr.