You can develop your own variations of the basic modes. Unless otherwise stated, breathing in and out is through the nose. Wherever possible practice with your eyes closed for better impact.
Start with any one hand, say the left hand. Gently flex the little finger inward. Count three breaths as explained in the ‘Counting mode‘. Release the little finger. At each of the other four fingers, flex one finger at a time and counting three breaths. Then switch to the right hand and repeat the same practice at each of its fingers. Continue practicing, switching the hands.
(Innovation of a 10 year old boy in an Indian grocery store after he learned the tip mode from me in a few minutes at the store. )
Counting in ‘One thousands’
“I just take deep, slow breaths and count ‘one, one thousand’, ‘two, one thousand’, ‘three, one thousand’ ….and repeat. I very seldom need to repeat more than three times to fall back to sleep, after waking up in the night. ”
(Innovation of Max Thornton who attended my seminar at the East Greenbush Library.)
Visualize the the little finger. Count three breaths as explained in the ‘Counting mode‘ while keeping the image of the little finger in your mind. Repeat this process for the other four fingers of one hand, visualizing one finger at a time and counting three breaths. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same process. Continue practicing, switching the hands.
Innovation of a cashier at the UPS store. He said he was too lazy to move his fingers!
Engaging the idle hand
When using the left hand for tracking the breaths, keep the tips of the index finger and thumb of the right hand in light contact and keeping the rest of the three fingers intentionally straight. This is the ‘Chin mudra‘ in yoga. When using the right hand, keep the tips of the index finger and thumb of the left hand, in a similar manner. After a few months of practice, just touching the tips of the thumb and index finger may trigger the calming effect of ‘focusing on breathing’.
Numberless three breaths
This is an advanced version of the‘Counting mode’. Breathe in feeling the coolness in the nose. Just watch the sensation of the out-breath till its end without counting. Then breathe in. Repeat this pattern two more times. You will instinctively know when you completed three breaths even without counting. You can use this variation when practicing the ‘Tip mode’ and ‘Segment mode’ as well. Try this after practicing the basic modes for quite sometime.
Chanting a favorite chant at the tips, segments or hands
A. One of my favorites is chanting my favorite mantra “Hare Rama…. “. I have been silently chanting this mantra for more than 20 years. Due to sustained practice the chant comes to my mind by itself whenever my mind is idle or stressed. It comes to me specially when I am walking any where – at home, in the parking lot or the store. I have been using it specially in the mornings on waking up in the bed, chanting the complete mantra at each tip or segment of the fingers.
B. Another recent favorite of mine is “Sarve janah sukhino bhavanthu” which is Sanskrit language meaning “May all the people in the world be happy and peaceful “. I chant this in one of the these ways: chanting during the exhalation only or during the inhalation as well as the exhalation. It has an amazing impact on my body – deeply relaxes my body all over when practiced for an extended period. Most days I practice it on waking up in the bed, chanting once during during every exhale or once during the inhale and also the exhale.
If you find these variations useful, you can devise your own variations and combinations. Let me know your versions so I can post them here acknowledging your contribution.
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