A BREATH COUNTING MEDITATION THAT’S A BIT OF FUN
Summertime in Australia means lots of things: the evening hum of cicadas, barbecues and Havaianas – and cricket.
As a busy mum, one of the only times I can guarantee I won’t be interrupted during meditation is right before bed. My husband is now used to me sitting up cross-legged beside him before we turn the lights out, and I don’t let a little TV with the sound turned down affect my practice. It’s not perfect but it works.
Of course, lately, TV with the sound turned down consists largely of the sport my judging mind tells me is mind-numbingly boring – cricket!
So, as we sank into our usual nighttime ritual, me perched up on a pillow and hubby with remote in hand, the last glimpse of ivory-clad batsmen running up and down the pitch led to this playful idea for a breath-counting meditation.
And this version of the game is what I consider much more fun. xx
One of the first meditations we learn to do is breath counting.
Techniques such as counting every out-breath to 10 and starting over or, counting both the in-breath and out-breath each as 1, and following on the sequence 1-1, 2-2, and so on.
It’s a simple technique that gives a busy and untrained mind “something to do” – some structure while we get used to what mindfulness meditation is all about.
And whilst the reason many of us come to meditation can be quite serious – from doctors’ orders to self-prescribed anti-depressants – the practice itself needn’t be so sombre.
In fact, if we can approach it like a game – and who doesn’t love games?! – it might just encourage us to turn up to practice every day.
So think of this meditation like a game of cricket.
In cricket, a batsman hits the ball and runs to the end of the pitch scoring a run. If a fielder can hit the wicket with the ball before the batsman reaches the end, the batsman goes “out.”
In meditation cricket, each full breath is counted as a run.
You’re the batter and staying with the breath and the present moment allows you to keep making runs. To keep counting breaths.
The fielders on the other hand, are your thoughts. Shiny and dangling before you, their job is to distract you off-field, to keep you from protecting your wicket – your awareness.
And as soon as you realise you’ve been lost in their thoughts – bam – YOU’RE OUT!
And back to your wicket you return.
But in cricket it’s not just the runs that are scored – it’s the number of times the players go out that count as well.
So, as well as counting your breaths, keep a note of how many times you go “out”. Of how many times you’ve wandered off-field and forgotten you’re counting.
Notice how many runs it takes before your awareness is stolen.
Notice whether the longer you sit, the more runs you can make.
Notice whether the score increases more and more over time, or whether it’s a seemingly random pattern of long innings and short ones.
And notice what the fielders are doing. Your thoughts. Whether there’s a whole ground full of them, or whether there’s one or two persistent ones carrying the load.
You can quite literally count the number of times you go out, or you can simply say to yourself “out” each time you come back to your wicket.
Because this meditation is meant to be a bit of fun. Nothing too serious. And not trying to achieve any particular score.
For the winner of this game is the one who sits and observes regardless of runs and outs.
The winner is the one who turns up to practice every day.
And the winner could well get to hold up a Contentment Cup for a job well done.