Sitting in a hot Epsom salt bath one evening, I began to feel a little uncomfortable. I wanted to stay in there for longer, so I could get the full benefit of the salts, but I felt restless and not all that relaxed. I decided that I would at least stay in there for 50 breaths. Why I chose this number or method I don’t know. All I know is that it seemed like a good number.
I began to count my breaths. As I did this, I watched the steam weightlessly lifting from the surface of the water. My breaths naturally slowed down. It seemed to take much longer than expected to reach 50, but I reached that number, and during that time I had managed to enjoy a lot more of the bath than before I started counting.
I applied it to a few journeys into and out of work, and realised it was an great form of meditation practice. The great part is that the second you lose count, you know that you lost concentration and come back to the breath. So in order to keep count, we really have to stay with the breath and not get lost in thinking.
A couple of weeks ago, I reached exactly 650 breaths from train platform to train platform on a journey across London (I take roughly 10 breaths per minute, so the journey was some 65 mins). It wasn’t actually that hard – but what was hard, was not responding to texts, since it was VERY difficult to respond and keep counting.
If you have never tried this, then why not try now? Perhaps starting with 10, and building it up slowly. Even if you never reach 10, just by realising you have lost count, you are practicing mindfulness of the breath. Congratulations! Let me know how far you get before you lose count…