Check back every Monday morning for the newest skill of the week. This weekly blog series offers a collection of diverse and effective coping techniques that can reduce stress, improve mental and emotional well-being, and perhaps make you even more effective in achieving your individual goals.
“We so often get caught up in our thoughts and aren’t aware of what we are thinking or how our thoughts affect us. This exercise provides the opportunity to relax while sitting and watching our thoughts as they happen.” ~ Mitra Lebatschi, M.A.
Leaves on a Stream
This exercise is a powerful tool for those moments when busy thoughts pull you away from the present. To prepare for this technique sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes or gaze at a specific point in the distance. You may want to set a timer for the desired length of time you would like to participate in this exercise, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
Picture yourself sitting along a gently flowing stream with several leaves floating along the surface, passing you by. Now as a thought enters your mind, place it on a leaf and watch it float away. Do this with every thought as it enters your mind. Thoughts may be pleasurable, painful or neutral. Place them on a leaf and watch them float away. Allow the stream and the leaves to flow at their own pace, there is no need to rush.
You may find yourself having thoughts such as, “I am not doing this right,” “This is dumb,” “This isn’t helping anything.” Place all thoughts, including thoughts like those on a leaf and watch them float away. Difficult or painful feelings may arise, just notice your thoughts and place them on a leaf. From time to time you may get distracted. This is normal. Simply bring yourself back by placing your next thought on a leaf.