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From the meditation podcasts I have heard when a thought comes up acknowledge it by saying "thinking" and then try to gently return back to your breath.

There is something else I tried experimentally. In this case I was not noticing my breath, but was noticing my thoughts. I did this by asking, "what's the next thought" and tried to observe my thoughts mindfully. Obviously more thoughts arose, but it felt like I was still practicing mindfulness. And it seems easier to do this type of mindfulness while in an environment with a lot of distractions. (Walking, running, etc.)

I wanted to know if it is ok to do this?

Also, are there other methods for handling my thoughts?

  • Good question. sometime ago, someone once told me to do as the buddha did himself to his own mind. If mind goes out of concentration for one time then bring it back for one time. If mind goes out concentration ten times then bring it back ten times. If mind slips a thousand times then bring it back a thousand times. If mind is keep on slipping then you please keep on bringing it back until it become an obedient one. Thank you & Regards. – jitin May 10 '16 at 5:15
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It is important to understand what is meant by 'right view' (samma ditti) which covers the origination of thoughts, the causal arising of thoughts, and the non-self nature of thoughts and the entire thinking apparatus.

This understanding will help one to be mindful of the arising and passing away of thoughts during meditation without identifying with them. The default view that a thought is mine, created by myself naturally causes one to pursue them. While the right view of the true nature of thoughts eventually leads one to be unbounded from thinking.

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The thing I've learned from meditation so far: Don't try to be clever, just follow the instructions!

Anapanasati (meditation on the breath) works just the way it should be. It was highly recommended by the Buddha himself and successfully used for the last ~2500 years now. It's really simple: When you breath out, know you breath out.

If you want to develop samadhi (concentration is a misleading term, let's just call it peaceful stillness), then the best way is to choose an mediation object (breath, metta, walking, ...) and follow the instructions.

In this case I was not noticing my breath but was noticing my thoughts I did it by asking "what's the next thought " and tried to observe my thoughts mindfully

Don't do this. You will eventually get caught up in thinking and emotions. In meditation (samatha) thoughts are a distraction. They pull you away from your object of meditation. So dropping your meditation object will pretty much end your meditation.

Dealing with distracting thoughts

I guess half of all questions in this SE relate to that topic, so I'm just gonna link some instructions. In general, you have to find out by trying what works and what doesn't. What makes you (your breath) more peaceful and what makes it more stressful.

https://youtu.be/oeJ2LaFaDCY?t=53

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL603BD0B03E12F5A1 (you probably heard this)

And it seems it is easier to do this type of mindfulness when in an environment with a lot of distraction . (Walking or running etc.)

I myself noticed that in such a environment it's very beneficial to 'sort' those distraction in regards to the six senses. This is seeing, hearing, thinking, tasting, feeling, smelling.

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Bring your attention to your hand (any) and to the middle of your forehead. Do it simultaneously. The first will keep you in the moment. The second will enable you to observe your thoughts. Any time you find your attention wandering and you are being caught up in a daydream, just become aware of your hand in the present moment. The hand will tingle and become warm when you turn your attention to it; each finger in turn – with your mind’s eye, look at your thumb until it tingles and becomes warm, then to the next finger and so on, until your hand tingles and becomes warm. Be very aware of the warmth and be in the present moment. At the same time, with your mind’s eye, look through the middle of your forehead at the thoughts rising and let them pass without being captivated by them. Focus on your being (via your hand, which holds you as an anchor in the present) and the middle of your forehead (through your mind's eye; don't move your physical eyes). This way, you won't wander away with the thought or be captivated by it.

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