When you sit to meditate and try to focus on your breath, your mind will inevitably wander. One technique to get your mind back on track is to count the breaths. Once you have got your mind focussed on your breath again, you can give up counting. There are a few different techniques you could use to count your breaths.
- The technique that works best for me is to count each inhalation and exhalation separately. Count "one" as you fill your lungs with air, breathe out completely and then count "two". Take a big, deep breath again and count "three", and when you exhale again, count "four". Count all the way up to ten, before starting back again at one.
- You can also join inhaling and exhaling as you count. So first, take a big deep breath, pause, exhale and when the lungs are empty of fresh air, count "one". This way of counting should be done up to five and then repeated from one again.
- The third possible method is to count up to 10 on each inhalation and exhalation. So as you breathe in, quickly count "one, two three four five six, seven, eight, nine and ten". Start again and do the same as you breathe out. Do this as many times as is necessary to get your mind focussed on the breath again.
Source: Mindfulness in Plain English - Bhante Gunaratana