Are you looking for a fool-proof approach to meditation?
It’s not always easy. There are more meditation techniques than sand crystals in a Tibetan sand mandala. So it can be intimidating to know where to start.
Where should you begin?
Maybe you haven’t found the silver bullet yet. That one technique that lets your mind and soul alight on the calm blue waters of limitless awareness.
I am lucky, because after 20 years of meditating, I have a few practices that serve me well. They help me focus my mind and let go. But I also like to experiment and try other techniques.
Why do I experiment? Because different techniques can expose you to different aspects of meditation. They reveal new perspectives and avenues for letting go. In the process, you learn more about yourself as well as the art and science of this ancient practice.
And recently, I was testing a new approach to meditation. It’s simpler than you can imagine. And it doesn’t take anything to get started.
A Fail-Safe Approach to Meditation
This approach to meditation capitalizes on something all of us do all the time. In fact, we learn it in preschool and sometimes before that. And we use it our entire lives nearly every day.
I’m talking about counting.
What? Really? Yes.
Here’s the idea. When you’re meditating, you want to let go of the world. You want to gently release your attention from your habitual addiction to thought. Your mind and my mind and everyone’s mind is full of thoughts and they go on and on. They never stop.
Most of us are hypnotized by this glittering gold stream of thought. It’s filled with everything we love and loathe. Learning how to flip the switch and release our awareness from the thought stream is what meditation is all about.
And here’s something to keep in mind. It’s simple. Meditation is only about this one thing. Gently, deliberately, and one-pointedly withdrawing our attention from everything I just described.
It can seem complex, elaborate, and thorny. But if you remember that you’re only doing one thing and one thing only, that can help a lot.
And that’s where this super simple approach to meditation comes in.
What Is the Counting Meditation Technique?
So what is the counting meditation?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. You sit down, relax, close your eyes, and quietly count to 100 in your head.
Yep, that’s it. I know. You may be asking, “Did you really need all this meditation training just to count to 100? And what’s so special about counting? Haven’t you been doing that your whole life? It never turned you into the Buddha before. Why should it now?”
Listen, it really works. I’m not kidding at all.
Here’s how you do it.
Again, sit down, be still, relax, and silently start counting to 100. Don’t rush. Just go at a natural pace and keep letting yourself relax while sitting still with your spine straight.
So, what’s happening when you do this? You are focusing your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of a practice like this to hone your attention. As you count to 100, your mind will wander. That’s totally natural. You just want to bring it back to the counting. It will drift again and you should bring your attention back again to the count.
When you do this counting exercise with real intention, your mind naturally starts to align with the counting. As you focus, your attention withdraws from the addictive stream of thought, conclusions, and opinions that your mind is usually fixed on.
By slowly bringing your mind back to the count, again and again, you start to train your awareness. That is the power of this practice.
What is the Difference Between Awareness and Mind?
And here we make a distinction between your thinking mind and your awareness. Your mind, as we are calling it, is the wellspring of thought. Your awareness is you. It is the axis of your ability to choose what you focus on. It’s deeper than thought and more essential to who you are.
So this counting training is meditation in its simplest form. The counting is a simple and deceptively powerful object for your attention.
What are the benefits of doing this? Depending on the time you put into it and the intention you bring to it, you will experience a deep sense of calm focus and ease. This is the result of spending time free from the thought stream.
The counting meditation leverages your natural tendency to count. Sure, you do it all the time. But when you do it like this, with the deliberate intention to focus your mind, it has powerful effects.
You can do as many rounds of this count as you like. You can do it for 5 minutes or 50. It’s all up to you. You just need to start.
One Last Tip Before You Start
In fact, go ahead and try it right now. It will won’t take you more than 5 minutes. Sit down, close your eyes, relax, and count to 100. If you lose focus, just keep coming back to the count. Let yourself go and give yourself to the counting.
Oh. And here is one last tip for the adventurous among you. As you get down towards the last 10 or 20 in your count, start slowing down. Let the space between each number get longer and longer.
I always find that something powerful happens when I do that. Maybe you will too. You may just find yourself falling into that space between the numbers as your whole being starts to slow down too.
See you on the other side!
By Morgan Dix