Technique #3 Counting back from 10 Meditation

Counting Back From 10

This counting meditation is designed to improve your ability to hold the mind steady, without wandering. It is not very elegant or spiritual, but it does strengthen your “concentration muscles.” Practicing this meditation is like an athlete who lifts weights to improve his or her golf swing. The secret to success is to notice the first flicker of attention loss and take immediate steps to bring yourself back to full attention. If you do not notice the first fleeting excursion of the mind, it is less likely you will notice the second or third, and 10 minutes later you will be thinking about work, politics, or something, and you will gain little benefit from the exercise. But if you notice the first flicker and immediately come back to the exercise with full attention you will get stronger with each passing minute.

The best way to notice if your mind has wandered is to listen to the way you say each number. If there is any doubt, no matter how small, as to whether you are at 6 or 5 then you have lost your place and should start over. Listen to the inflection of count... do you say 6!!! or is it more of a 6.....? Remember, if there is any question about what number you are on, you must have wandered or you would know!

Don't judge yourself if your mind wanders. It means you're making progress! That's kind of the idea of this concentration technique, to notice and train the mind.


1) The easiest variation involves employing simple breath awareness as you count backwards from 10.

Count 10 as you breath in, and 9 as you breathe out, and 8 as you breathe in, and 7 as you breathe out... if you get to "1" breathing out, start back at 10 as you breathe in again and repeat until you lose your place. Each time you lose your place, start over again at 10. Don't visualize the number, only sound it in your head silently. Visualizing makes the exercise too easy. You can either stretch it out like “tttt....eeeeeeee.....nnnnnnn” over the length of you breath or else just say it normally.

2) If this exercise gets too easy (you make it from 10 to 1 fairly often) then try a more difficult variation: breathe in to 10, breathe out to the sound AUM, breathe in to 9, breathe out to the sound Aum, breathe in to 8... and if you get to 1, start over. 

Try this for a time period of 5 minutes at first ,and then advance to 10 minutes and more as you become more accomplished with it. This technique has worked well with beginning students and those with the most monkey of minds.

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