We all want to improve. Setting up a system of measure to track progress is key when building any skill, and with meditation it is extremely difficult. How does one assess one's own progress? This is a critical question, given the amount of time required for self cultivation.
Remember that in Qigong breath is crucial. We say that breathing is strategy, and knowing which strategy to use requires proficiency. Practice and exploration aids and facilitates proficiency. The first step is to relax the mind and body, using the breathing. You want to aim for soft, smooth, slender and long. This helps to hone the awareness in the abdomen and relax the lungs.
So let's measure it. We can measure a few different ways. We can count the breath cycles and note the highest number (before losing focus). Depending on your concentration, 4-8 is about average. The better you can concentrate the higher the number will be. This is done while trying to stretch out the inhale and exhale for that long and slender feeling. Which is another way to measure: count the seconds for each inhale or count the seconds for each exhale. Eight to twelve seconds for an inhale or exhale is good. Fourteen is great.
Try these out and let me know what you think.