One way to meditate without distraction

If you’re interested in meditating but can’t quite seem to do it without getting distracted, I recommend making a game of it. One game I use is, “How long can I take to count to five full breaths?”

The game itself is simple: Just before you begin to meditate, start a stopwatch on your phone. Then breathe in, and as you do so, internally say “one.” Then breathe out and internally (or externally) say “two.” Try to take these breaths as slowly as you can, with all of your focus on the current breath and current number. Keep doing this until you breathe out and say “ten,” and when that breath is finished, stop the stopwatch and see how long it took. The game is to make this time as long as possible.

In deeper meditation I’ve gone up to nearly seven minutes (possibly because doctors tell me my lungs are about 1/3 larger than normal), but when I first start I tend to be around 2:30.

A great benefit of this approach is that it’s easy to stay focusing on the counting. Because it’s a game where you’re trying to get to 10 as slowly as possible – competing against your own best time – your focus is naturally on the numbers and the breathing. I find that after a couple of rounds like this I can then meditate in other ways much more easily.