We are offering a weekly blog series with a collection of diverse and effective coping techniques and exercises that can help reduce stress, improve mental and emotional well-being, and perhaps make you even more effective in achieving your individual goals. Check back every Wednesday for the newest skill of the week. Try them all out and find what works best for you.
This week, we recommend the Leaves on a Stream technique. This exercise is perfect for moments when busy thoughts pull you away from the present.
To begin, 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.
Imagine yourself sitting by 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.