‘OBSERVING’ DISCOMFORT WITHOUT NEGATIVE REACTION

One of the most courageous things you can do when worries, anxieties and fears show up is to learn how to sit still with them and do not do as they say.  It’s courageous because the impulse to resist, tense and become overwhelmed by these feelings is so great, so automatic.  Learning how to work with these intense feelings and let them be as they are can be a very difficult path.  Partnering with the right professional can teach you the art of “mind watching” which will teach you to become a true observer of your mind, rather than becoming absorbed and overwhelmed by negative thoughts of your mind.

EXERCISE: MIND WATCHING

Get in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.  Begin by taking a series of slow, deep breaths.  Keep this up throughout the entire exercise.  Imagine your mind is a medium sized white room with two doors.  Thoughts come in through the front door and leave out the back door.  Pay close attention to each thought as it enters.  Now label the thought as either a judging thought our a nonjudgmental thought.

Watch the thought until it leaves.  Don’t try to analyze or hold on to it.  Don’t believe or disbelieve it.  Just acknowledge having the thought.  It is just a moment in your mind, a brief visitor in the white room.  If you find that you are judging yourself for having the thought, then just notice that.  Don’t argue with your mind’s judgment.  Just notice it for what it is and label it: “Judging-there’s Judging.”  The key to this exercise is to notice the judgmental thoughts rather than getting caught up in them.  You’ll know if you are getting caught up in them by your emotional reactions and by how long you keep each thought in the room.

Keep breathing, keep watching, keep labelling.  A thought is just a thought.  Each thought doesn’t require you to react, it doesn’t make you do anything; it doesn’t mean that you are less of a person.  Observe your thoughts as if they were visitors passing in and out of the white room.  Let them have their brief moment on the centre stage.  They are fine the way they are- including the judging thoughts and all the uninvited visitors.  The important thing is to let them leave when they’re ready to go and then greet and label the next thought…and the next.

Continue this exercise until you sense a real emotional distance from your thoughts.  Wait until even the judgments are just a moment in the room- no longer important, no longer requiring action.