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Observe Your Thoughts

Did you know we have over 64,000 thoughts a day? They happen so fast and continuously that it's impossible to notice them all. Typically we focus on the thoughts that align with our perspective. This meditation allows you to observe your thoughts in the present moment.

A common misconception about meditation is that it involves shutting off our thoughts. While the goal is to quiet the mind, it is so we can observe our thoughts without everyday distractions.

During focused-attention meditation, we aim to focus our attention on a specific object (the breath, a mantra, sound, etc.). However, in time, our mind will inevitably wander from the meditation object when one of our random 64,000 thoughts catches our attention. When this happens, and we notice it, that is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is simply awareness of the present moment without judgment. As soon as we label something as 'good' or 'bad,' we live in the past, relying on what has happened to us to determine the quality of the moment. When we practice mindfulness, we are reminded to be present when our mind starts to wander, and we learn to see life as it is.

This exercise is an open-monitoring meditation. Unlike focused-attention meditation, there is no single object of focus. Instead, we let our mind guide us. We are open to whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise in the moment. We notice them, release them, and see what comes next.

For example, "thought about what to make for dinner"...."thought about interaction from work."

  • For this exercise, go somewhere you won't be disturbed.

  • Get into a comfortable position and take three deep breaths.

  • Bring your awareness to your environment. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel?

  • You can close your eyes or gently lower your gaze.

  • Observe the state of your mind.

  • Let your mind guide your attention without becoming attached to anything.

When you become mindful that you've become attached to a certain thought, simply note it and see what comes next.

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