By Maryann Potter, MS, LAC – – –

Sometimes our thoughts can make us feel like we are on a rollercoaster of emotions with all the ups and downs and many different turns. Often, we even feel like our life is upside down and we have lost complete control. We are constantly bombarded with so many different thoughts, both positive and negative ones.  Did you know that a human processes 48 thoughts in just one minute? We are powerful individuals that can tap into our inner strength and harness all those different impressions. Mindfulness is one of the key components that can help us tap into that inner strength.

We are bombarded every day with negative thoughts- but a simple thought diffusion exercise can help rid us of those intrusive feelings. There are various scenes that you can choose for this meditation- some ideas may be to do the following:

  • Visualize yourself sitting in a field watching your thoughts float away on clouds
  • Sitting near a stream watching your thoughts float past on leaves.
  • See your thoughts written in the sand and then watch the waves wash them away.
  • Picture yourself standing in a room with two doors; then watch your thoughts enter through one door and leave through the other.

If none of the above suggestions work than you can choose your own idea. A way to begin is to take a few slow, long breaths, relax, and close your eyes. Now, in your imagination, picture yourself in the scenario that you chose, watching your thoughts come and go, whether it’s by the beach, near a stream, in a field, in a room, or wherever. Do your best to imagine yourself in that scene. After you do, start to become aware of the thoughts that you’re having. Start to observe the thoughts that are coming up, whatever they are. Don’t try to stop your thoughts and do your best not to criticize yourself for any of the thoughts. Just watch the thoughts arise, and then, using whatever technique you’ve chosen, watch the thoughts disappear. Whatever the thought is, big or small, important or unimportant, watch the thought arise in your mind and then let it float away or disappear by whichever means you’ve chosen. Just continue to watch the thoughts arise and disappear. Use pictures to represent the thoughts or words, whatever works best for you. Do your best to watch the thoughts arise and disappear without getting hooked into them and without criticizing yourself. If more than one thought comes up at the same time, see them both arise and disappear. Continue to breathe and watch the thoughts come and go until your timer goes off. When you’ve finished, take a few more slow, long breaths and then slowly open your eyes and return your focus to the room.*

Once you learn to control your feelings and thoughts it can be exhilarating and thrilling just like at the end of a roller coaster ride.

*McKay, M., Wood, J., & Brantley, J. (2007) The Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

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Maryann Potter is passionate about strengthening children (ages 10+), adolescents, and adults by using techniques such as DBT and EMDR to help in their journey of recovery.  She believes in using a nonjudgmental and empowering approach to help improve mental and emotional well-being.