How often do you catch yourself ruminating (repeating worried thoughts), replaying a difficult memory, “overthinking,” or having anxious, racing thoughts? Everyone raise a hand.
Try a simple practice to shift your experience from “being your thoughts” to simply experiencing thoughts without getting swept up in them:
1. Catch awareness
The first step in letting go of your thoughts is learning to notice when they overwhelm you. Begin to notice those moments when you’re pre-occupied with thoughts and say (with a bit of lightness or playfulness): “oh, gotcha!” or simply, “oh, thinking!”
2. Separate yourself from your thoughts
Pause and observe your thoughts as if they are outside of you, like clouds passing in the sky, or leaves falling from a tree. Perhaps imagine that your breath is the breeze.
If you focus on any one thought for more than a few seconds, attach it to a cloud or a leaf moving across your field of awareness, and watch it vanish out of the sky with a brisk exhale. If your thoughts are moving quickly, notice if you can slow the clouds/leaves down by slowing your breath.
Reflection: Take note of how this allows you to disrupt repetitive, lingering, or racing thoughts. As much as you can, let go of any judgment that arises.