Meditation Basics Counting Breaths Is Not Like Counting Sheep

Meditation Basics Counting Breaths Is Not Like Counting Sheep



Meditation Basics: Counting breaths is​ not like counting sheep.


"Just close your eyes and count your breaths,​" they say. How simple can it​ be? "Don't think about anything else though. Just concentrate on​ your breathing." Well,​ anyone who has tried this "simple" meditation knows that it​ just isn't that easy.

There are many obstacles to​ this seemingly effortless task. Our minds tend to​ wander naturally. if​ we try to​ completely focus on​ anything for more than a​ few seconds,​ random thoughts take over. And breathing is​ boring; let's face it. How can you​ concentrate on​ something so mundane when there are much more interesting things racing around in​ your head?

A typical session might go like this: I close my eyes,​ sit comfortably,​ and begin counting. Inhale one,​ inhale two,​ inhale... "Am I doing this right? I guess so,​ I'm already on... oh three." Inhale four... "Now,​ am I supposed to​ start over at​ one or​ just keep going?" Inhale one,​ inhale two,​ inhale three,​ inhale four. "Wow,​ I'm really getting the​ hang of​ this. Oops." Inhale one,​ inhale two... "Did I remember to​ pay the​ phone bill? I'm sure I did. I'm really good at​ staying on​ top of​ my bills. Not like Susan,​ she's always... Darn,​ I did it​ again." Inhale one,​ inhale two...

The good news is​ it​ does get better with practice. the​ bad news is​ it​ can still be a​ struggle for experienced meditators,​ especially during busy or​ turbulent periods in​ one's life. Luckily,​ there is​ more good news. There are some specific things you​ can do to​ help you​ focus and reduce the​ frustration in​ your meditation practice. in​ this article,​ I would like to​ offer three tips to​ help you​ with your practice. They are: Observe don't control,​ be compassionate,​ and enjoy yourself.

First,​ don't force or​ try to​ control your breathing. This is​ a​ mistake that a​ lot of​ beginners make. Many inexperienced meditators consciously or​ unconsciously alter their breathing in​ an​ effort to​ focus on​ it. What results is​ an​ exaggerated and often irregular breathing pattern. This can actually inhibit your meditation rather than help it.

What you​ want to​ do is​ just "watch" your breathing. you​ don't have to​ exert any additional effort at​ all. if​ you​ just wait and observe,​ you​ will breathe. Then,​ you​ can count. of​ course,​ we all know this but many people still find themselves forcing it. if​ you​ catch yourself controlling your breaths,​ just gently remind yourself that it's not necessary and then wait for the​ next breath to​ come naturally.

This brings me to​ the​ next tip,​ compassion. in​ this case I mean for yourself in​ your meditation practice. as​ we've been discussing,​ it's not an​ easy thing to​ do to​ concentrate on​ one's breath. It's very important not to​ scold yourself when your mind wanders or​ you​ catch yourself controlling your breathing. if​ you​ think about it,​ the​ time you​ would spend reprimanding yourself for breaking your focus is​ just more time away from your meditation. it​ is​ best to​ softly bring yourself back to​ your practice as​ soon as​ you​ notice you're wavering. Don't get down on​ yourself and start thinking,​ "I can't do this. This is​ never going to​ work for me." These negative thoughts do nothing to​ help your practice and waste valuable time. Be compassionate. Just brush it​ off and return to​ your meditation.

Another way to​ look at​ these wanderings is​ to​ realize that they are an​ important part of​ your progression. Meditation is​ a​ skill. And like most skills,​ it​ requires practice. a​ baseball player doesn't step into the​ batter's box for the​ first time and start hitting homeruns. He makes mistakes and corrections,​ and improves over time. He can then gauge his progress by the​ reduction of​ errors. Even after he is​ an​ experienced batsman,​ he will still strike out more often than he would like. But his hits should increase as​ well.

In your meditation practice,​ your mind will likely wander more in​ the​ beginning. But don't give up. it​ will get better. Just like the​ baseball player,​ you​ will realize fewer mistakes over time and you​ will learn to​ recover from them more quickly. Sure,​ you​ will still have challenges and even slumps from time to​ time but you​ will also have more successes.

The final tip I would like to​ offer is​ to​ find enjoyment in​ your practice. Even though it​ may be tough at​ times,​ daily meditation can greatly enhance your life. Don't rate yourself and expect to​ progress or​ improve to​ a​ particular degree or​ within a​ particular timeframe. Unlike baseball,​ mediation is​ a​ life-long experience. Remember,​ this is​ your time. Let it​ be your oasis not a​ chore. No matter what else is​ going on​ in​ your life,​ your meditation time can be your escape. as​ a​ Zen master once said,​ "It's just you​ and your breath and then it's just your breath." Breathe in,​ breathe out,​ and forget about the​ world around you. Even when you're busy or​ preoccupied with some problem,​ even if​ you​ can only find ten or​ fifteen minutes to​ be alone with your breath,​ enjoy it.

I hope these tips will help you​ to​ enhance your meditation experience. They have certainly proved to​ be invaluable in​ my own practice over the​ years. of​ course I still struggle from time to​ time with the​ very same issues we've discussed here. But through observing rather than controlling,​ being compassionate to​ myself when I falter,​ and enjoying my special time alone; I have made my life fuller and happier.




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