whereas this keeps my brain busy and somewhat randomized, I was getting too caught up in coming up with words and not paying as much attention to the actual breath part or the phenomenal experience of sitting in a whirl. so I gave up on the words and started using the alphabet alone instead of numbers but it was too easy to lose track of where I was without concentrating on the sequence itself so I decided to just choose one word and think it every time I breathed out, just as an index of breathing. for simplicity, I decided to make it a syllable instead of a word. 'ut' seemed nice.
it works a little better than everything I've tried so far. I could just say one number over and over but numbers have associations and one can get lost in a train of thought that starts after saying 6 three times for instance and the same can be problematic with a real word and in fact while doing the random word breath indexing I started to worry about what words my brain would decide to serve me and what hidden meanings I might start looking for in them so really this is how it all came down to a syllable. first I was thinking 'out.' 'out.' 'out.' but that morphed quickly into an 'ut' of indeterminate association.
I suppose this is what they call a mantra and is not normally what they do in zen but counting the breath does not work for me but indexing it with 'ut' does.
we'll see how this goes.