By learning to watch your thoughts come and go during this practice, you can gain deeper insight into thinking altogether (such as its transience) and into specific relationships among your thoughts and your emotions, sensations, and desires. This practice can also help you take your thoughts less personally.
To observe your thoughts as they arise and pass away.
Sit or lie down on your back in a comfortable position.
Become aware of the sensations of breathing.
After a few minutes of following your breath, shift your attention to the various thoughts that are arising, persisting, and then passing away in your mind.
Try to observe your thoughts instead of getting involved with their content or resisting them.
Notice the content of your thoughts, any emotions accompanying them, and the strength or pull of the thought.
Try to get curious about your thoughts. Investigate whether you think in mainly images or words, whether your thoughts are in color or black and white, and how your thoughts feel in your body.
See if you notice any gaps or pauses between thoughts.
Every time you become aware that you are lost in the content of your thoughts, simply note this and return to observing your thoughts and emotions.
Remember that one of the brain’s major purposes is to think, and there is nothing wrong with thinking. You are simply practicing not grasping on to your thoughts.
When you are ready, return your attention to your breath for a few minutes and slowly open your eyes.
Images you can use to help observe your thoughts:
Imagining you are as vast and open as the sky, and thoughts are simply clouds passing through the open space.
Imagining you are sitting on the side of a river watching your thoughts float by like leaves or ripples in the stream.
Imagining your thoughts are like cars, buses, or trains passing by. Every time you realize you are thinking, you can “get off the bus/train” and return to observing.