Non-judgmental observation is the practice of doing whatever it is you’re doing without judging the situation in any way. It’s a mental awareness technique that’s frankly quite hard. I go on walks everyday around the office building at work and try my hardest to focus on the walk and not the thoughts that arise while I’m walking.
What I want to have happen is to walk without any thought outside of what’s happening around me at the moment of walking. When I decide to take a walk, I’m telling myself “I’m going for a walk.” not “I’m going to go think of a song that’s been stuck in my head and revisit past memories, seeing how I could’ve approached them differently.” That sounds exhausting. Yet it’s what happens pretty much every time I decide to walk.
It may sound weird but you can actually feel your thoughts bombard you when you try not to think. But trying not to think isn’t the goal here. The bet practice isn’t to try not to think but to forgive yourself for thinking and continue about your business. By simply forgiving yourself for thinking, you’ve accepted what’s happened and your mind doesn’t dwell on the fact that you’re failing to stop thinking. The is the same reason forgiveness works in many other contexts as well. Your mind can let go of a lingering thought because you’ve accepted the situation.
So I guess the best way to practice any kind of mindfulness isn’t to try to be mindful (unlike may other disciplines) but to just be. And that’s it.