How to observe your own thoughts

Sometimes, when life gets a little too ‘soap opera’, it can be useful to step back and observe your thoughts and emotions.

Choke by Chuck PalahniukAt this point, how my life starts to feel is like I’m acting in a soap opera being watched by people on a soap opera being watched by people on a soap opera being watched by real people, somewhere.

Chuck Palahniuk. Choke

‘Once you’re relaxed, imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater. This is your own private theater. It’s safe and no one else is in it. You’re sitting several rows back from the screen, and it’s comfortably dark. Up on the screen you begin to see the thoughts, emotions, memories, and sensations that pass through your awareness.

Just sit and watch. Don’t follow any particular thought or emotion into the screen, just as you wouldn’t try to jump into the screen during a movie. Just watch without judgment, reaction, or distraction

As you observe your big deal mind, simply take note of what it presents; simply watch and name. Notice which thoughts have a pull on your attention and emotions. And also note any physical sensations you experience. Stay with this for a few minutes before moving on to the next part of the practice.

Now imagine that there’s another ‘you’ in this theater, sitting all the way in the back of the theater, in the very last row directly behind the first you. This second you is just sitting there watching the you up front, who is still just watching the screen.

Stay with this for a few minutes and notice what happens, paying particular attention to your emotional, physical, and mental reactions.

Now imagine that there is a third you, standing back the door of the theater. This third you is simply watching the second you, seated in the back row of the theater, who is still watching the you in the front, who is still watching all that is passing across the screen.’

Thomas Roberts. The Mindfulness Workbook: A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Fear and Embracing Compassion (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

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