Creating Headspace, Calm & Mindfulness
At times, do your thoughts takeover your mind? Do you have trouble stopping the thoughts? If yes, do not worry, this is something experienced by most. As humans we have an innate ability to literally have thoughts about our thoughts and it may sound something like the following…”I feel so depressed today, the weather is lousy, and I have to go to work and take the dreaded tube – what a life!”. This could be followed by thoughts centred around: “why does life suck? Why can’t I be happy, when will I be happy?!” – the latter statements/thoughts are thoughts about the original thought. ”The fact that I’m feeling depressed is making me more depressed” – no. Over-indulgence and too much emphasis on thoughts that do not serve us, can result in low mood, sadness or even depression over time. We are often unaware of the impact these musings have on our lives. It is only when we become aware of the power of such thoughts, we can divest ourselves of them. We seldom accept negative comments from others; however, we so often accept our own inner negative chatter. It is our evolutionary cycle as predators and the need to be prepared for flight-or-flight that makes us experts at this. Whilst we are not predators protecting ourselves from lions today, today’s life stressors such as mortgage payments, managing a career and family, family troubles, worrying over children and so on, can send our thoughts into a tailspin. So how to deal with this?
If you start to accept that thoughts are just that, simply thoughts, then you will find it much easier to deal with them. But you ask, how do I do that? It takes practice but like anything, the more you practice, the better you get at it. So here goes.
Leaves On A Stream exercise.
This is best done in a quiet space with no disturbance. Close your eyes but before doing so, read the following first.
Imagine you are sitting on a beautiful riverbank, with the stream in front of you, flowing gently along. You notice leaves flowing on the river. Now I want you to put every thought you have onto those leaves one by one. As you inhale for 4 seconds and then exhale for 7 seconds, after the exhale place that thought on the leaf and watch it pass by. Do not do anything with that thought, just notice it pass you by. Do the same with the next thought and the next thought and the next. Notice how calm the river flows and how these thoughts do not bother you anymore as they simply drift by. Keep on going until the very last negative thought leaves your mind. Keep breathing throughout, through your nose. You will find this gives you a sense of peace and clarity. In the future, when you start to have negative thoughts or become burdened by your thoughts, close your eyes and practice Leaves On A Stream. Remember you cannot be calm and anxious at the same time!