So when you get carried away by your thoughts, stop, take a deep breath, and pay attention to it, your breath, that is, and then notice how and where you feel the most tension, maybe it’s in your shoulders, maybe it’s in your jaw, or your hip area… then let that part of your body soften, and notice your breath going in and out.
And you can take this awareness a bit further, when your thoughts keep returning, because they will, then have in your minds eye, that you can reach out and touch them. You are not judging what the thoughts are about, you are just touching them, like touching speech bubbles you see in a comic, and whatever snap judgement you are making about your thoughts. By touching them, you are short circuiting the connection to them, by touching them gently, and then coming back to the breath.
Thoughts are not the enemy, it just means you are alive, so when you short circuit them, by touching them, it means that you have changed them, maybe they have disappeared completely or they have got less intense, or perhaps they have got to a manageable degree so you can just let them be, instead of being ruled by them.
If they come back again, say hello, touch them again, and let them be again. Don’t worry about their persistence, eventually they will quietly tire themselves out. And as we do this, because we’re not fighting with them, a little bit of rest naturally comes along. It’s a byproduct. We don’t have to try to rest or try to be calm, just touching and letting go allows a natural kind of rest to overtake us.
How good is that?
When we release stress, we can think clearly again. By giving ourselves small regular breaks from the stress, we down-regulate the nervous system so that we feel better for more and more times during the day.
In times of challenge or crisis a certain amount of fear and stress are inevitable; they are natural responses to the more difficult moments of our lives. However we often cause ourselves a lot of excess suffering by continuously worrying and ruminating about all kinds of things that are not in our control.
So once you have practiced ‘touching your thoughts’ and feel that you have a little bit of a feeling of being control, you could perhaps consider what small positive steps you could take to look after yourself and maybe others too.