Watch your thoughts like street traffic
Watching the mind is a wonderful method of meditation. It may take some time to be able to do this. For some, simply watching the breathing process, chanting, praying, joining in the singing of devotional songs etc. may be helpful. But for those who are inclined towards self-enquiry, mental workout is most effective. Just as physical aerobics is prescribed for physical fitness, meditation is prescribed as mental aerobics for mental fitness.
The enquiry in the form of “Who am I?” is proclaimed as the direct means to obtaining perfect happiness under any circumstances. However, watching the mind and witnessing the thoughts is another highly recommended practice for sincere and earnest seekers of undivided happiness and peace of mind.
Initially, the mind will wander to its usual interests. When we remember that it has gone outward, it is enough if we bring its attention back to the “I Am” feeling. As we do this more and more regularly, the mind will wander less, and experience its natural tranquillity.
The great Sage, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, had the following conversation with someone.
Q: How am I to think myself out when my thoughts come and go as they like. Their endless chatter distracts and exhausts me.
M: Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go; you register without response. It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time and you can be aware of them all. It is only when you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your attention gets caught in it and you black out on other levels.
Even then the work on the blacked out levels goes on, outside the field of consciousness. Do not struggle with your memories and thoughts; try only to include in your field of attention the other, more important questions, like ‘Who am I?’ ‘How did I happen to be born?’ ‘From where is this universe around me?’. ‘What is real and what is momentary?’ No memory will persist, if you lose interest in it; it is the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage.