Busy, chatty mind? How to meditate on thought

woman walking dog - meditate on thought

How to meditate on thought

Just how do you meditate on thought? Even though our goal in meditation is to be in the present moment and accept it exactly as it is without judgment, the present moment may include busy, chatty, annoying thoughts we can’t stop. Rather than try to stop thoughts, we create conditions that allow the mind to calm on its own. We invite a quiet mind; we don’t force it. Trying to strong-arm thoughts to slow often has the opposite effect. Instead, we train and encourage the mind.

How do you create this encouraging environment when thoughts are so tricky?

Exactly the same way you meditate on body sensations: Infuse the experience, in this case, your thoughts, with awareness and equanimity.

Let’s say you’ve finished a game and you’re walking to your car. You have chosen thought as your object of meditation. As you walk along, notice your mind. It might seem like a blank slate. Scan your mind, or let your mind be completely open. Don’t look for anything.

At some point, a thought will arise. It may present itself like a seed, merely a bud of a thought, as opposed to a full-blown image or phrase. Use the concentration you are building to stay present to that thought. And use the equanimity you are building to allow that thought to blossom or fade away, without giving it any additional energy. The thought may encounter your awareness and disappear, leaving you with a calm, blank state of mind.

Other times the thought will grow and grow in your awareness. Your job is only to notice. See it or hear it.

Thoughts are a sixth “sense gate,” a sixth way in addition to our five senses through which information flows to us. And while we use the same technique with thought as we use with body sensations, working with thought requires more awareness and equanimity. Don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult to work with thoughts as your object of meditation, especially while doing movement meditation. If you’re moving through space, it might be difficult to track thinking and at the same time stay
physically safe.

Continue to use body sensations, including the breath, as your object. Acknowledge any thoughts that arise, and repeatedly return to the breath or body sensation. Build your concentration. Once you become confident in your ability to focus, try working with thought. You may also need personal instruction in how to deal skillfully with thoughts that continue to intrude when you try to focus elsewhere. Remain aware of your surroundings and do your best.


Because thoughts are sticky and tricky, until you’ve strengthened your concentration, don’t attempt this exercise while doing a complex activity. Rather, take a walk or even a hike! As you move, place your awareness on the breath. Use it like a base or anchor, a safe place to rest between thoughts. Keep your mind on your breath until you notice a thought arise. Get curious. Is the thought an image, or do you hear words?

Do your best to remain neutral, open, and interested. Equanimity makes the thought less sticky and keeps you from following the thought out into the not-meditating atmosphere. Let the thought do its  little dance and dissipate. If you get caught in it, don’t fret. Just bring your awareness back to that friendly base—your  breath. Continue to keep your awareness on your breath until another thought arises. Again, notice what type of thought it  is. Let it rise and fall. Continue this for as long as you wish.


As with the “Auditory and Visual Thoughts” exercise, until you feel comfortable with your ability to focus, choose a simple  movement during which to try this exercise.

During a walk, place your awareness on a simple body sensation. Use it like a base or anchor the same way you did in the previous exercise. Keep your mind on that body sensation until a thought arises. When one does, notice whether it is a thought about the past, present, or future. If it is a thought about either the past or the future, acknowledge it, then bring your mind back to that body sensation. If the thought is about the present, notice as it rises and falls. When it has passed, bring your mind back to your object of meditation. Continue for whatever interval you wish.

I have included more than twenty “Your Turn” exercises in the book Make Every Move a Meditation.

This excerpt is from Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.