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The “Count to Ten Meditation Technique”

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I wanted to give you just a quick little tip on how to work mindfulness. If you’re trying to learn meditation or do anything with working with your mind, one great little way to do it is to do what I call the “Count to 10 Technique.” Now, lots of people talk about this, but I want to cover some of the distinctions, ok?

Number one, when we’re meditating, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get so upset. We also don’t want to only do guided meditations and things that are easy to passively sit through while being told a story. We actually want to do some of the work, and working with our mind and seeing what is thought and what is not thought.

So, what do we do?

It would be best if we could just sit and land on the sensation of our breath and kind of stay there, right? People that are beginning meditation really don’t have that muscle solid. That becomes very, very difficult to do. One way to become aware of awareness itself is to do the “Count to 10 Technique.”

It’s also a way you can commit to a little bit of time sitting, without a time keeper, and basically have a reason or time to end it. As an example, I’ll do ten full breaths … maybe two or three times and realize that’s a good amount of time, whatever time that took. It may take a little longer if I’m not present, and I’ll explain why in a second.

How do you do this?…

First off, one is generally one full breath all the way in, and one full breath all the way out. You would just in your mind quietly count, “one” in… and out… “two” in … and out … “three” in … and out. As you notice, maybe a thought flies by … I would suggest you start over at one.

It’s not a punishment, it’s not anything, it’s just noticing and giving some cadence and a little bit of style to what you’re doing in your mind. Otherwise, it would just continue at “four” … there’s almost no noticing or purpose of the thought. It’s actually important to do that noticing. It’s not hard and it doesn’t matter if you ever get to ten.

Now, why do we stop at ten?

Ten is completely arbitrary … we sort of “math in” the ten-based system, so we choose that number. It could be five, it could be 20, it could be whatever you want. It doesn’t just go on and on and on. We’re not going to count to 1,000, we’re not going to count to 100, we’re not going to count to 20. Here’s what happens; the counting itself can kind of become in the background. You may notice that as you’re counting breaths, you’ll also become aware that you’ve been thinking, and you’ve continued counting, and so, you’ve lost meditation that way. You may find that you get to 10 and you continue to 11 and 12 and 13. I would just point out that you’re now not aware, right, that counting itself had become kind of methodical and automatic, and you’re no longer aware that you’re trying to pay attention to something.

The fact that you’re stopping at 10 and starting over again is a beautiful space, and it’s a safe little space of just noticing ten breaths. The way you can kind of grade yourself … it’s not really that healthy to grade yourself … but if you want to, you can sort of see if the beginning that, “Oh, I can only get to two. Man, I do one thinking. I do one, two thinking.” As you do it a little bit more you might find that you get further, right? All of a sudden you’re sitting for five or six or seven breaths. Now when that’s starting to open like that, just stop counting, and just kind of be in the space; very open to it.

Here’s the deal. It’s not hard. Sitting is not difficult. It’s the most natural thing around, right? That’s probably not true. Thinking may be more natural, right? It sort of happens all by itself, but there’s nothing difficult. The present moment is right here for you any time you want, and all it is, is sort of breaking up with the thinking part and allowing your focus to become sensation and present based. We just want to focus on presence.

I’m going to have other tips on how to meditate and other little anchors and things you can do as you’re learning. As you open up to this, if you can make it a practice, the practice of working with your mind in this way starts to open up a freedom that … I don’t want to sell it to you, you’ll have to see for yourself, but try the practice of counting to 10 while you sit.

Thanks so much.