Koanic breath count

  1. Mnemonic
  2. Expansion
    1. Zero inhale
    2. Exhale count
  3. Practice


0 1-5 (6)


Zero inhale

Inhalation evokes zero and also "0nly".

Zero connotes void, emptying the mind.

"0nly" denotes that the only job is the breath koan. Of that job, the only requirement is the first step: zero inhale.

There is no concern or guilt about forgetting to do zero inhale. Whenever one wishes to reassert control and moderate one's thoughts, one resumes zero inhale.

This resets the conscious mind, preventing thoughts from exceeding the conscious buffer size. The subconscious doesn't suffer the same buffer size constraints, but is also regularly soothed by the Zen emotional effect of the zero inhale.

Otherwise, conscious buffer overflows generate subconscious anxiety, stimulating harder conscious thinking to fix top-of-mind problems, creating a feedback loop.

A buffer overflow is when a thought becomes longer than the conscious mind can consider simultaneously. Textmind packetizes thoughts to avoid buffer overflows.

Exhale count

On exhale, count up from 1 to at most 6.

The final number reached is a measure of biological energy level and meditative focus.

At very low energy, the highest number reached will be 1, and sometimes one will only count zero, even if one focuses purely on meditation. Typically at level 0 I fall asleep. Observing energy level fall to zero is a good way to fall asleep.

At high energy, one will often have conscious bandwidth surplus to the task. For example, one's mind might wander while washing dishes. Exhale count ensures one's conscious thoughts don't detract from the current task, and also prevent boredom and impatience.


If energy is at least medium, I may count "0 1" on the zero inhale, for a longer full inhale. Then "1 2 3 …" as normal for the exhale count.

Slow controlled breathing is a fundamental meditative practice, and this method establishes a good rhythm.

I interweave tongues/glossolalia mental monologue into the background of the count, inflecting it with faint subliminal meaning. This encourages the subconscious to process thoughts and feelings without requiring explicit conscious representation. It is better to avoid premature conscious expression of thoughts and feelings by giving them ample subconscious processing first, because subconscious processing has lower friction.

I am using the conscious/unconscious dichotomy, but perhaps representable/unrepresentable is more apt. Representable thought uses symbols known to self and usually others, and can therefore be communicated. Unrepresentable thought isn't bound by requirements such as syntax and words and therefore is much more fluid.

As always, I test these koans under conditions such as productivity and socializing while sick. This one has been exemplary, but I'm not out of the epiphany honeymoon yet. It also provides an ideal subjective energy metric, which I need for Quantified Self.

The goal of koanic breath is the effects, so fragmentary or mutated adherence is fine inbetween deliberate resets.

Publish At: Author:Leo Littlebook

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