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This is a device for gaining concentration. There are numerous ways of counting. Any counting should be done mentally. Do not make any sound when you count. Following are some of the ways of counting. While breathing in, count "one, one, one, one..." until the lungs are full of fresh air. While breathing out count "two, two, two, two..." until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Then while breathing in again count "three, three, three, three, three..." until the lungs are full again and while breathing out count again "four, four, four, four..." until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Count up to ten and repeat as many times as necessary to keep the mind focused on the breath. The second method of counting is counting rapidly up to ten. While counting "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten," breathe in, and again while counting "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten," breathe out. This means that with one inhalation you should count up to ten and with one exhalation you should count up to ten. Repeat this way of counting as many times as necessary to focus the mind on the breath. The third method of counting is to count in succession up to ten. At this time, count "one, two, three, four, five" (only up to five) while inhaling and then count "one, two, three, four, five, six" (up to six) while exhaling. Again, count "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven" (only up to seven) while inhaling. Then count "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight" while exhaling. Count up to nine while inhaling and count up to ten while exhaling. Repeat this way of counting as many times as necessary to focus the mind on the breath. The fourth method is to take a long breath.

When the lungs are full, mentally count "one" and breathe out completely until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Then count mentally "two." Take a long breath again and count "three" and breathe out completely as before. When the lungs are empty of fresh air, count mentally "four." Count your breath in this manner up to ten. Then count backward from ten to one. Count again from one to ten and then ten to one. The fifth method is to join inhaling and exhaling. When the lungs are empty of fresh air, count mentally "one." This time you should count both inhalation and exhalation as one. Again inhale, exhale, and mentally count "two." This way of counting should be done only up to five and repeated from five to one. Repeat this method until your breathing becomes refined and quiet. Remember that you are not supposed to continue your counting all the time. As soon as your mind is locked at the nostril tip where the inhalation and exhalation touch and you begin to feel that your breathing is so refined and quiet that you cannot notice inhalation and exhalation separately, you should give up counting. Counting is used only to train the mind to concentrate on one object. After inhaling do not wait to notice the brief pause before exhaling but connect the inhaling with exhaling, so you can notice both inhaling and exhaling as one continuous breath. After joining inhaling with exhaling, fix your mind on the point where you feel your inhaling and exhaling breath touching. Inhale and exhale as one single breath moving in and out touching or rubbing the rims of your nostrils. A carpenter draws a straight line on a board that he wants to cut. Then he cuts the board with his saw along the straight line he drew. He does not look at the teeth of his saw as they move in and out of the board. Rather he focuses his entire attention on the line he drew so he can cut the board straight. Similarly, keep your mind straight on the point where you feel the breath at the rims of your nostrils.

A gatekeeper does not take into account any detail of the people entering a house. All he does is notice people entering the house and leaving the house through the gate. Similarly, when you concentrate you should not take into account any detail of your experiences. Simply notice the feeling of your inhaling and exhaling breath as it goes in and out right at the rims of your nostrils. As you continue your practice, your mind and body become so light that you may feel as if you are floating in the air or on water. You may even feel that your body is springing up into the sky. When the grossness of your in-and-out breathing has ceased, subtle in-and-out breathing arises. This very subtle breath is your mind's object of focus. This is the sign of concentration. This first appearance of a sign-object will be replaced by a more and more subtle sign-object. This subtlety of the sign can be compared to the sound of a bell. When a bell is struck with a big iron rod, you hear a gross sound at first. As the sound fades away, the sound becomes very subtle. Similarly, the in-and-out breath appears at first as a gross sign. As you keep paying bare attention to it, this sign becomes very subtle. But the consciousness remains totally focused on the rims of the nostrils. Other meditation objects become clearer and clearer, as the sign develops. But the breath becomes subtler and subtler as the sign develops. Because of this subtlety, you may not notice the presence of your breath. Don't get disappointed thinking that you lost your breath or that nothing is happening to your meditation practice.

Don't worry. Be mindful and determined to bring your feeling of breath back to the rims of your nostrils. This is the time you should practice more vigorously, balancing your energy, faith, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Suppose there is a farmer who uses buffaloes for plowing his rice field. As he is tired in the middle of the day, he unfastens his buffaloes and takes a rest under the cool shade of a tree. When he wakes up, he does not find his animals. He does not worry, but simply walks to the water place where all the animals gather for drinking in the hot midday and he finds his buffaloes there. Without any problem he brings them back and ties them to the yoke again and starts plowing his field. Similarly, as you continue this exercise, your breath becomes so subtle and refined that you might not be able to notice the feeling of breath at all. When this happens do not worry. It has not disappeared. It is still where it was before--right at the nostril tips. Take a few quick breaths and you will notice the feeling of breathing again. Continue to pay bare attention to the feeling of the touch of breath at the rims of your nostrils. As you keep your mind focused on the rims of your nostrils, you will be able to notice the sign of the development of meditation. You will feel the pleasant sensation of a sign. Different meditators experience this differently. It will be like a star, or a round gem, or a round pearl, or a cotton seed, or a peg made of heartwood, or a long string, or a wreath of flowers, or a puff of smoke, or a cobweb, or a film of cloud, or a lotus flower, or the disc of the moon, or the disc of the sun. There is no need to fear technology in itself. We all know it can be an amazing asset and convenience in our lives.

But how we use it is of great importance to anyone determined to heal from depression. Finding balance is a checkpoint we can't afford to ignore. Changing your relationship to the Internet is a big step on the road to getting there. Keep an online log to track your digital use for one or two weeks. You can download an app or set your timer to calculate your time spent online. After tracking your daily use for a week or two, you'll have a good idea of how much time you spend connected via the Internet. Brace yourself! Most of us underestimate how much time we spend online, similar to alcoholics who underestimate or minimize their alcohol consumption. This exercise is not intended to cause you guilt but to provide a reality check about your technology use. Also track your interaction with other technology. Because of the prevalence of the Internet in our society, it gets much of the research attention. But of course that's just one source of technology among many. Monitor how many hours you spend watching television, playing video games, viewing movies, and so on. Brace yourself again! Adding these hours to your online hours will probably come as a shock. Put yourself on a tech diet. Now that you know your average weekly technology usage, begin to scale back. Start slowly, trimming a half hour from your daily use, then an hour, then more until you achieve a reasonable and comfortable level. The most effective strategy is replacement therapy, meaning you can replace your technology use with enjoyable activities that productively occupy that time: walking with a friend, going to the gym, playing board games with family members, reading a book, tending your garden, or taking up a new hobby (such as tennis, painting, or fly-fishing). Commit to a periodic digital detox.