As I was browsing through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Livingrecently and they suggested that a deeper awareness is to be had just through focusing on the breath and that counting was about concentration, so yesterday after the last few years of counting my breath I stopped and switched to just focusing on my breath. I’m not sure that it’s any harder and indeed might be a little easier, but it is qualitatively different. Counting has a kind of obsessive quality to it. Yes, from time to time one gets distracted from the actual counting, but generally it’s just ticking over. Here there is a more complete focus required. It seems more solid somehow. And it naturally transfers into other activities:- driving, taiji (of course), walking.
Now that I do it I’m reminded when I’ve been at my most intuitive. And this is interesting. Is this the essence of mind that is discussed in The Sutra of Hui-Neng? Or is the essence of mind the Soul being on the higher levels of the plane of mind? For now I have no idea.