For you to be composed and concentrated will help the dying person continue with equanimity on their journey into the after-death state. It can be both calming and otherwise helpful to the dying patient for you to share with them the counting of their breath for periods of about twenty minutes, perhaps several times a day, as they near the threshold of death.

You might begin by holding the dying person’s hand as the two of you join in counting. First, however, quietly suggest that they concentrate on relaxing one part of their body at a time, such as each arm, each foot, the neck, and so on, until their whole body has been relaxed. Then begin quietly counting aloud to them as they breathe in and out. Count “One” on the inhalation, “Two” on the exhalation, “Three” on the inhalation, and so on, synchronizing your counting with their breathing. Breathe yourself in unison with the counting and their breathing. After counting up to ten, begin with one again.

—from The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide


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