Bored with the counting?

pond and leavesSometimes people find the counting boring, and want to drop it. Well, there can be good reasons and bad reasons for wanting to drop the counting.

Sometimes we’ve really developed a strong current of stillness and it seems natural to drop the numbers. If so, then just let go of the counting and enjoy that undistracted bliss. But often it’s just a resistance to structure, or the desire to be passive. We’d rather just daydream. Be honest about what your motivation is.

If the numbers seem mechanical, then bear in mind that this is not inevitable — it’s a product of the way your mind is working. If you approach the numbers mechanically, then they’ll seem mechanical. On the other hand, if you approach the numbers gracefully and creatively, then they’ll seem natural and fluid.

One way to contact that natural fluidity is to place the number very lightly before or after the breath. Imagine that you’re kissing the cheek of a sleeping child. You want to make contact, but you don’t want to cause any disturbance. Place the numbers tenderly, and with care.

If your mind is very distracted however, then make the numbers more definite and firm. But still try to do it with care. This time it’s more like giving a massage — making more definite, weighty contact — rather than kissing a child, which is a much more delicate gesture.

The firm count should still be done sensitively — like the firm but responsive pressure you would apply when massaging a friend’s shoulders.

Boredom more generally is a lack of emotional engagement. When we’re bored we’re not able to appreciate what’s in front of us and so we start to crave some new experience. In order to get beyond boredom we have to take action. Doing something — committing ourselves in practice to the meditation — helps dissipate boredom. Especially if we commit to paying attention, in detail, to the qualities of our experience we’ll start to feel more engaged.

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