Breathe by Number
The idea here is to practice deep breathing, a core meditation practice, with the help of numbers. We focus on the basics—zero through nine. You don’t have to think much about counting; in fact, it is boring to do without purpose. In this exercise, the purpose is to use numbers as an aid in staying focused on the breath.
The practice is simple:
- Breathe in and out while focusing on the number zero. As you breathe, think to yourself: Breathe in, breathe out, zero. Then: breathe in, breathe out, one, and so on. Or: Breathe in zero, breathe out zero, and so on.
- Another alternative is: Breathe in, zero; breathe out, one; breathe in two; breathe out, three; and so on.
- Whatever the counting method, when you get to nine, you can start over again at zero.
- If your mind wanders, just bring it back to the number you were on and the breath.
If you want a visual to help you along in using numbers to facilitate deep breathing, click on the FREE downloadable handouts below. I find that even when I use this exercise without the visual (for example, to help me fall asleep), I sometimes still focus, in my mind’s eye, on the illustrated numbers on the PDF.
Breathe by Number 1 page
Breathe by Number 2 pages
You could add other exercises using numbers to stay in the moment. You could, for instance, also employ numbers to facilitate mindful awareness of your day and gratitude. You could count off in your head the number zero and come up with something you are grateful for, then again something different at one, and then two and so on.
We hope you find this tool assists your meditative practice. Enjoy.
Article and meditation exercise/illustrations by Kristin Littel.