This technique comes from the Buddhist tradition and was introduced to me by my teacher Sahajananda, founder of Hridaya Yoga. This is a good technique to use for 15-20 minutes before a meditation session, especially if you are having trouble calming the mind. I find it very useful on days when my mind is incredibly active and resisting meditation.
- Relax your entire being and slow your breath
- Begin to focus upon the pauses between each inhalation and exhalation
- Start counting each cycle of inhalation and exhalation as one count
- Count each cycle from 1-7, then start back at one and count from 1-14, then starting back at one, count each cycle from 1-21, and so on….increasing each time by seven counts
- If at any time the mind interferes and you forget which count or which cycle you are on, then start again 1-7, 1-14, and so on.
The purpose is not to see how many counts you can get, but it is to still the mind and focus upon the pauses between inhalation and exhalation. The counting is merely a tool to keep the mind focused and calm. You may find that on some days you struggle to complete the first round of seven; this is just fine. Do not get discouraged. With constant practice, you will find that you can complete more and more rounds and eventually you may not need this technique anymore.
After you feel that your mind is in a calm state and you would like to move into another form of meditation focus on stabilizing the captured mind.
- Keep yourself in a state of neutrality, having no reaction to thoughts. Detach from thoughts completely. Do not feel happy if there are no thoughts, or disappointed if there are thoughts.
- Exercise your witness consciousness (the stillness that exists behind every thought and action). This is the background of awareness where thoughts are coming and going. Stay in the awareness of the awareness itself.