Watching bodily sensations is simple ,there is always a sensation to recognize in the present moment .Same with breathing ,hearing and seeing.Always a reception exists realtime.

For example:-

In breathing: there is a slow breath ,heavy breath ,refreshing breath.

In the body:There is comfort ,tightness ,discomfort.

But the mind as a sixth sense isn't as easy .It doesn't seem like it always keeps receiving a continuous stream of thoughts to recognize in the present.

Is there a meditation practice that can help recognize thoughts continuously ?.Or do thoughts pop out erratically and according to ones interaction with the aggregates?.


What I mean by thoughts as in ideas coming to the mind.

  • Are not those sensations just part of the mind-stream? It seems to me little practice is required to 'recognise thought continuously'. It's what we naturally do. It's not doing it that takes practice. Perhaps this is not what you're getting at. In the practice of apperception we just do it more carefully, for instance by examining where thougths come from.
    – user14119
    Apr 27, 2019 at 9:32

8 Answers 8


The part of your mind that is seeing thoughts is mind. Therefore you have awareness of mind. As you watch mind, thoughts, sensations, feelings, emotions, perceptions, all this arises then passes away. There isn't a special need to watch thought-stream. It's just one of the things happening, so its recorded and detailed in meditation instructions merely to help you become aware.

middle discourses 10 Mindfulness Meditation - Satipaṭṭhānasutta 3. Observing the Mind And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the mind? It’s when a mendicant knows mind with greed as ‘mind with greed,’ and mind without greed as ‘mind without greed.’ They know mind with hate as ‘mind with hate,’ and mind without hate as ‘mind without hate.’ They know mind with delusion as ‘mind with delusion,’ and mind without delusion as ‘mind without delusion.’ They know constricted mind as ‘constricted mind,’ and scattered mind as ‘scattered mind.’ They know expansive mind as ‘expansive mind,’ and unexpansive mind as ‘unexpansive mind.’ They know mind that is not supreme as ‘mind that is not supreme,’ and mind that is supreme as ‘mind that is supreme.’ They know mind immersed in samādhi as ‘mind immersed in samādhi,’ and mind not immersed in samādhi as ‘mind not immersed in samādhi.’ They know freed mind as ‘freed mind,’ and unfreed mind as ‘unfreed mind.’ And so they meditate observing an aspect of the mind internally, externally, and both internally and externally.They meditate observing the mind as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the mind exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world. That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the mind. https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato


I don’t really understand what you want to watch,.

Do you want to watch the mind or the mind objects (thoughts)?

There are a lot of ways to observe the mind. Here some questions you can ask yourself for practice, but also in daily life:

  • How am I feeling right now overall, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral?

  • Are there any unwholesome states, like anger, greed, frustration, restlessness, uneasiness, irritation, boredom, impatience, clinging, distraction, and so on?

  • In case of wanting: Can I see if it’s a wholesome desire or an unwholesome one?

Point I’m trying to make is that the mind is so much more than thoughts.

Of course, watching thoughts can help in determining what state the mind is in. But watching them is not the same as getting to understand the mind. The mind is more than it's objects.

Another thing that might be useful to know is that what someone means when they say thought can differ. Some mean stories in their head, others impulses that come up, and so on. I’m sure you can see that there is a significant difference here. So, it might be useful to always figure out what one means with the word ‘thought’.

Hope this helps a bit.

  • Thanks for the answer ,yes I was also wondering about that but what I meant was thoughts as in ideas coming from the mind.. Apr 25, 2019 at 9:19

But the mind as a sixth sense isn't as easy. It doesn't seem like it always keeps receiving a continuous stream of thoughts to recognize in the present?

In Tibetan tradition they say that the watching mind is also a kind of thinking. So the impulses like "let me watch this", "let me watch that", and recognitions like "I see this", "I see nothing" etc. - are all examples of thinking.

Also, the quality of the watching mind is something you can notice. Like, is the watching mind clear, or slow, or sleepy, or irritated, or restless, or suppressing something etc.

Is there a meditation practice that can help recognize thoughts continuously?

(Indirectly) watch the watching mind, and see how its opinion about what it watches becomes the next thought.


Trying to control the mind or try to be immediately super mindful can't work. Also practising just in the temporary formal meditation sessions is never enough.

The key is practising mindfulness all the time without trying to control the mind. This is the path to liberation.

Mindfulness is the way to the Deathless (Nibbana); unmindfulness is the way to Death. Those who are mindful do not die; those who are not mindful are as if already dead. Fully comprehending this, the wise, who are mindful, rejoice in being mindful and find delight in the domain of the Noble Ones (Ariyas). The wise, constantly cultivating Tranquillity and Insight Development Practice, being ever mindful and steadfastly striving, realize Nibbana: Nibbana, which is free from the bonds of yoga; Nibbana, the Incomparable!



Is there a meditation practice that can help recognize thoughts continuously

Yes. Count your breaths. Counting requires a bare minimum of thought. "One" is a thought. "Two" is a thought. Remember the current count and proceeding to the next properly is actually quite difficult to sustain over the course of a meditation session. Distractions cause us to lose count. Those distractions are also thoughts. In this simple way, counting breaths provides a measure of mindfulness.

Eventually counting succeeds and one knows by counting how long one has been meditating. Perhaps 100 breaths is half an hour. Perhaps it is more. Perhaps it is less. That time will be individual. However all those who count while meditating will be able to relinquish stray thoughts by holding on to the count.

I have meditated for almost 40 years. I still count.


One is not asked to go further then rupa when not knowing rupa in and of it self, and once having come to a state where home and house is no more interesting, having understood rupa, as it is actually "separated", better distinguished from mind, the question will already have done it's cause by the right training.

If one starts at mind or switches to the mind to fast (e.g. while still a householder) he/she will ever confuse rupa and nama, develope housholder-equanimity and gets easily lost and downwards, having not penetrated form first.

(Note: that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks and what binds to the world but as a tiny exit for those seeking for such)


Since "watching" & "thinking" are antagonistic, it is not possible to watch a stream of (discursive monkey mind) thoughts from the mind.

The only thoughts that can be objectively watched are: (i) deliberate thoughts (such as when giving a speech); and (ii) very minor occasional thoughts (which form the basis for contemplating Dependent Origination, for example).

In Anapanasati, for example, the 9th step called "experiencing the citta (mind)" does not involve watching thoughts because the 9th step is done with knowing each in breath & each out breath. The 9th step involves experiencing non-verbal residual defilement energies/stains & also their absence.

[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.'

MN 118

In his brief commentary on the 3rd tetrad of Anapanasati, the Buddha says:

I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of lapsed mindfulness and no alertness...

MN 118

A 'stream of thoughts' only happens when there is lapsed mindfulness & no alertness. Therefore, the delusional fantasy of "watching" (rather than "drowning" in) a "stream of thoughts" cannot occur.

Generally, the American "Vipassana" Tribe, such as Joseph Goldstein, Mark Epstein & Jon Kabat-Zinn, teach this kind of non-sense for monkey-mind clients.

  • I agree with your last point, but let's appreciate that they helped a lot of people, especially Jon Kabat-Zinn, although not adhering to a scritpural Buddhist approach.
    – Val
    Apr 25, 2019 at 7:37
  • So if one is in a job where he continuously needs to be creative and figuring out new ideas there is no way he can be mindful about the thoughts ?,Just mind wandering all the time?. Apr 25, 2019 at 9:36
  • I posted: "The only thoughts that can be objectively watched are: (i) deliberate thoughts.... " regards Apr 25, 2019 at 10:37

If you are see a thought, then you are thinking. If you don't, then you are not. It is quite easy to tell the two apart.

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