Here at School of Life Design, we have a not-so-small obsession with the meditative practice of silent counting. So obsessed, we had to make the Cult of Counting Handbook journal. The Handbook is a great way to train attention and manifest miracles, but what about all the parts of the day when you can't just be doodling in a cult handbook?
You're pretty much guaranteed to be better off if you spend your time counting instead of thinking, but the mind can be hard to convince. Besides, often times thinking is fun! But if you're looking to sharpen your focus, improve your mood, and flex your manifestation muscles, here are 7 occasions counting will yield better results than getting lost in thought.
1. First thing in the morning when you brush your teeth
Think of silent counting like mental hygiene. It cleans your mind of worry, stress and critical thoughts. If you get started counting first thing in the morning, you'll feel refreshed and focused. Instead of running through your to-do list or regrets or worries about the upcoming day, try counting to 100 while you brush your teeth. This practice will energize you and give you a break from immediately jumping into anxieties about what's to come.
2. During seated meditation
There are many ways to meditate, and silent counting is one of them. Although some gurus say the best way to meditate is to just sit there, watching your thoughts, sometimes that feels overwhelming or stressful. Try counting to 1000 while meditating for 15 minutes, and see how effectively it resets your mood for the day. Getting a break from thinking helps stimulate your creativity and gives you a new perspective on any problems you may have.
3. When you're mad
Anger is a tricky emotion. Once you're angered, it can be hard to resolve the issue without acting out or telling someone off. But acting out of anger always makes the situation worse. What helps you ultimately feel better is letting go of the angry thoughts so that you can see a resolution. When Kelly and Jessica get in a fight, Jessica likes to employ silent counting to help her let go of the angry thoughts and calm down. The counting always helps her see the argument in a new light, and it all but guarantees the two of them make peace and come to a mutual understanding.
4. During exercise
Jessica used to hate exercise, and would find anything she could do to distract herself during it. She would write, read, or watch TV to make the workout bearable. Her attitude made training for a marathon excruciating. But one day she read about Philip Rosedale's (creator of Second Life) practice of counting to 10,000 every day. He suggested that the two best times to do it were during aerobic exercise, or seated meditation.
The reason it works so well during exercise is because it gives your mind something to focus on during a monotonous activity. You don't have to be filled with resistant thoughts about the workout, like, "I don't think I can do this anymore!" Counting while running is especially effective, and can help you log more miles than if you were aimlessly thinking about things.
Kelly adds that counting while running has brought about some of the most intense clarity she has ever felt. While totally focused on the counting, allowing the god self to do the running, she felt a sense of release and trust in the universe that she has found difficult to enter using most other methods.
5. In the shower
Showering is a great time to practice counting because you're often alone and can go through the cleaning motions on autopilot. Counting in the shower can actually make you more present to the blessings of hot water and soap, because you aren't lost in thought about the past or future. If you're like us, you may get pretty sleepy after a hot shower, but counting helps maintain one's energy level post-shower. The repetitive act of counting gets stuck in your head like a song, and the rhythm keeps you in the flow of action.
6. The instant you notice a thought making you feel bad
The sooner you drop a thought that makes you feel bad, the better. If you can let it go before it gains momentum and becomes a thought pattern, then you'll likely never think of it again. This instant you notice yourself fixating on something that really doesn't matter—or even if it matters a lot but there's nothing you can do about it—let it go. Immediately start counting as fast as you can and put all your focus on the counting. You'll replace the intrusive thought with the numbers, and then you won't even remember what it was that was bothering you so much.
7. Falling asleep
Jessica SWEARS by silent counting as a method for falling asleep. If you find it hard to turn your mind off after your day, try counting to 100 once your head is on your pillow. If you're genuinely tired, the counting instead of thinking will help you drift off to sleep more quickly than usual. It works because your racing mind tends to keep you awake, but the counting instantly silences the thoughts if you put all your attention on it. Say to yourself, "I'm done thinking for the day. I intend to count and fall asleep now." Then relax into the comfort of the numbers.
If you still find it difficult to keep your mind from wandering, try counting down in reverse from 100. This will require more focus of the mind and also has the added benefit of an unwinding effect. Rather than building up to something, you are winding it down. Imagine a thread wound tightly around your soul, and as you count down to each number, imagine the unwrapping of the string. This will relax your entire body and allow your consciousness to expand to fill the space of the moment.
If you like silent counting and want a fun way to practice, check out our Cult of Counting Handbook. Similar to a coloring book, you make marks on the illustrations for each number you count. You can use hashmarks, numbers, dots, coloring—whatever suits you that day. If you find it challenging to keep your attention on counting numbers in your head, the Handbook is an excellent tool for strengthening your focus with a pen on paper.