Today I went to Boulder for a meditation retreat led by Shelly Young, held in a beautiful house with a spectacular view of the mountains. It felt like being in nature inside. We did periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation and one period of kundalini yoga with sound meditatation from gongs.
The things I got the most out of was the labeling practice she taught. In meditation you name pictures that arise IMAGE. You focus on your mental screen behind your closed eyes and every time a picture comes up you gently and without judgement say IMAGE. Then you hang out with the image until it dissolves. I am not very visual so pictures rarely come up. When I stare at something I see the image behind my eyes. After staring at the teacher as she gave instructions, when I closed my eyes, there she was. It was cool to notice that as I focused on the image with my full attention it dissolved. The challenging part of the practice was labeling talk. My self-talk can be pretty distracting and critical. Everytime we heard something being said inside our heads we were to say TALK and label it as talk without judgement. My mind was very noisy and there was a steady stream of talk. Each time I said TALK I felt more powerful that the noise in my head was talk and I didn't have to be caught up in it. It was very freeing and by the end of the day there were more spaces between my thoughts. Then on the way home when my critical self-talk started I said TALK and brought myself back each time I noticed. It felt good to be unhooked from it by seeing it as TALK. All the things I say to myself are talk: both the complimentary and the uncomplementary. The magic is to recognize that who I am is much more than the voices that speak to me in my head. If it resonates with you play around with quietly and unjudgementally saying TALK to yourself and bringing yourself back to your mental screen or your breath or your body. The inner critic only exists in the past and the future.
It tells us how we messed up in the past and why we need to worry about the future. In the present it doesn't exist. It is TALK.