Counting while you meditate

abacus counting

Counting while you meditate

In this previous post “Steps to Make Any Move a Meditation,” I explained the process of movement meditation. The fourth step is to “Place Your Awareness on the Object of Meditation.” This may involve counting.


Another way to keep your mind on the object of meditation you’ve chosen is to try a counting exercise. Counting is a basic form of noting. It builds concentration and calms the mind by giving it a little task.

Counting works best with repetitive movement. Count steps while walking or running, arm strokes while swimming, swings while practicing any racquet sport.

You can also count your breath. Do this by counting from one to ten. On the inhale, count “one.” On the exhale, count “two,” and “three” on the next inhale. When you reach ten, either count backward from nine down to one, or start at one again. Any time you lose count or thoughts distract you, begin again at one.

Be creative. Count breaths or steps as you carry your bag from the tee to your next shot. If it’s in the rough or the sand, you’ll need that concentration.

Count steps or breaths as you walk to the basketball foul line, training yourself in focus and patience. Count repetitions or foot falls. Any counting will build concentration, and in all likelihood, patience too.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it to ten with anything you count.

As with any other new endeavor, this will get easier as you build your meditation skills of concentration and calm. movement, you might not need to label so long as you can maintain your concentration.

Also, notice if labeling leads you into thinking. Are you more aware of the moment? If so, the labels are effective. Labeling should lead you into the moment, not  away from it. If you begin to worry whether you are noting and labeling properly, note that!


Go for another walk. As you move, place your attention somewhere on your right arm. Each time your right arm swings forward, count: one, two, three, etc., up to  ten. When you get to ten, begin again at one. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the real-time sensations of your right arm and begin to count at one again. Continue for whatever interval of time you like.

I have included more than twenty 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.