We can get so caught up in the thoughts we have, we can believe them, no matter what the situation. Here’s a brief exercise to help you create some space between you and the thoughts you have. You and your thoughts are not one and the same. You have thoughts, sure. But you don’t have to accept them at face value. You can create some distance and view them from a different place – not close up so that you can’t see the wood from the trees.
Here’s one way how:
- Find a comfortable position, and either close your eyes or lower your gaze – whatever suits you best and where you are.
- Imagine you are sitting by the side of a gently flowing stream. You can see leaves flowing past on the surface of the water. Imagine it however you like.
- For the next few minutes, imagine every thought that pops into your head, place it on a leaf and let it float on by. Do this, regardless of whether the thought is positive or negative, painful or pleasurable. Even if they make you feel great, pop them on a leaf and let them float on by.
- If your thoughts stop, just watch the stream. Sooner or later, your thoughts will start up again. Take your time.
- Allow the stream to flow at its own speed. Don’t force it to speed up. You’re not trying to wash the leaves away – you’re allowing them to come and go in their own good time.
- If your mind says, This is stupid, or I can’t do it, place those thoughts on a leaf too.
- If a leaf gets stuck, let it hang around. Don’t force it to float away.
- If a difficult feeling comes up, such as boredom or impatience, simply acknowledge that its there. Say to yourself, Here’s a feeling of boredom, or Here’s a feeling of impatience. Place those words on a leaf and let them float on by. Then place those words on a leaf, and let the leaf float on by.
- From time to time, your thoughts will snare you, and you’ll lose track of this exercise. This is normal and natural, and it will keep happening. Our minds are good at it.. As soon as you realize it’s happened, gently acknowledge it, and then start the exercise again.
This worked for me pretty well yesterday, when I found myself getting hooked up on certain thoughts that trouble me every now and again. Let me know how it works for you.