Advanced breath and counting techniques

woman walking into the sunset along a street - advanced breath and counting techniques
Advanced meditation techniques: breath and counting

Improve your practice with these additional methods: advanced breath and counting techniques.

Here is another way to use the breath as the object of meditation:

Remember the four parts of the breath: the inhale, the turn, the exhale, and the pause before the next in breath. Some people find their minds wander during the turn. For others, the pause opens a door to thoughts and distraction.


I previously suggested counting the inhales and exhales separately. For more of a challenge, count each full breath: “one” on the in breath, turn,  exhale, pause. “Two” on the in breath, turn, exhale, pause. Count each full breath from one to ten. When you get to ten, count backward to one. Any  time you lose count, begin again. Do this for whatever interval of time you like. This requires more concentration, and you may need to build up to it by using the first method of breath counting.

Movement can be tied to breath. This works best in movement forms that include repetitive actions and where you choose the pace. Change the movement to match your breath, not vice versa. Some yoga practices ask you to manipulate the breath, to time it with your movement. Here, you do the opposite.

Let’s take walking as an example. Before you begin to walk, notice your breath in your body. Find the place where it is most easily recognizable: the place you sense it most readily, where it is most apparent. After an exhale, wait through the pause. On the inhale, take a step, then on the exhale, take another step. Or try it with just one foot, the left foot for example. On the inhale, lift your left foot, on the exhale, place it on the ground. On the next inhale, lift your right foot, on the exhale, place it on the ground. Move along a straight line in this way.

I use a similar technique with running by tying cadence (footfalls) to my breath. I find the natural place my breath falls in alignment with my foot strikes. Three breaths in, four breaths out, repeat. The number of breaths with each foot turnover will vary for each individual and your particular  fitness on that day. Some days I only need three breaths per foot strike; on other days, four.

If you are dancing, do this with an arm swing or a twirl. Notice your breath and move your body in time with your breathing.


While walking, match your steps to your breath: one breath for one step or one breath for two steps. Change the movement to match the breath. Find the pace that works for you. Do this for whatever interval you like. This builds concentration. Plus, you may experience frustration, another important thing to observe.


Ed learned this one-to-ten walking practice at a retreat in Santa Fe. It’s fabulous for building both body awareness and concentration. Begin to walk. On your first step, count one. Second and third step, count one, two. Fourth, fifth, and sixth step, count one, two, three, and so on up to ten, then back down. Again, when your mind wanders, begin again at one.

Do this for whatever interval you like. If you feel discouraged, don’t fret. This one also requires great concentration.

I have included more than twenty “Your Turn” exercises in the book Make Every Move a Meditation.

This excerpt is from Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.