I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find my mind getting really busy and cloudy. At times it’s a general sense of busyness, other times it’s full on craziness. One of the fastest mind-calming exercises that I use is the breath counting exercise.
Find a comfortable seat.
Soften your eyes, relax your body.
Focus all your attention on the brush of air against your nostrils as your breathe. When you inhale, feel cool air entering your nose. When you exhale, feel warm air exiting.
Start counting your breath. When you inhale, count 1. When you exhale, count 2. Inhale, count 3. Exhale, count 4. All the way to 10. Once you’ve arrived at 10, go back to 1 and repeat.
Keep repeating this until your mind quietens down.
A few rules of this game:
1. If you get distracted, go back to 1
Perhaps you start thinking of lunch, or what happened at work. Perhaps you start thinking of someone or something. Notice when that happens, go back to 1.
2. If you go on autopilot mode, go back to 1
You’ve lost count. You’ve counted to 14, 15, 16… Go back to 1. Pay attention.
3. It doesn’t matter if you never make it to 10.
We all know that you can count to 10! The practice is not in the counting.
The practice is in paying attention and being vigilant to the times when your mind wanders off, and mindfully bringing yourself back to the counts. It doesn’t matter if you never make it to 10. It is more crucial that you catch yourself when you lose focus.
Have you failed if you don’t reach 10?
NO. The magic happens in those little moments when you notice that you have drifted off. Those moments are the highlights of your practice. Those moments, no matter how minute, make your practice a successful one. So don’t get frustrated or upset. It’s always a work in progress. Stay vigilant, find your next moment to train your mind to be more mindful.