Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Becoming the Watcher
Find a comfortable position, take several slow deep breaths, and feel your body relaxing as you exhale. Then slow your breath and with eyes closed take your time as you scan your body, relaxing it.
As you’re doing the scan, remain aware of any thoughts that come to mind, literally ‘watching’ your thoughts. But don’t fight your thoughts or get frustrated. Gently release your thoughts and return to your scan.
When you’re done, stay focused on your breath, and again pay attention to your thoughts without getting carried away by them. Notice what happens when you identify with the watcher, and stay in the present moment with an open heart. Pay attention to the chattering mind, without making any value judgments.
Typically, your thoughts tend to calm down as you pay attention to the internal dialogue. That’s when you can find a space between two thoughts and move toward stillness and a state of meditation. Stay with it for at least ten minutes.
How did that work? Maybe you spent some time puzzling over the matter of watching your thoughts, and the idea that your true self is something other than your thoughts. In other words, you are not your thoughts.
Don’t get annoyed or upset if you’re not getting into a deep meditative state or are still uncertain what it is. Such emotions are hardly helpful. And don’t be surprised if the watcher occasionally vanishes from your awareness as you get lost in your internal dialogue. As soon as that happens, you’ve merged with the active mind, lost your sense of mindfulness, and floated away down the river of thoughts. Bye-bye. But you can always come home and find your inner awareness again.
Speaking of coming home. When Steve Jobs returned from several months in India, he actually found it more difficult to re-integrate in American culture than overcoming the cultural shock he experienced when he arrived in India. He had discovered, to his surprise, that Western rational thought was not an innate human characteristic, but a learned one, and in the villages of India it was never emphasized. He’s quoted in his biography, by Walter Isaacson:
“The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”
That’s quite a statement coming from one of the top technological innovators of our time – or any time! But there’s more. Jobs recognized the difficulties we have in reaching a state of mindfulness.
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”