I learned this little mindfulness technique for class and I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s called thought defusion and it’s from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and also dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Both types of therapy emphasize learning how to accept life as it is and yourself as you are. Basically that’s figuring out how to know that my natural instinct is to be anxious and to worry, and acknowledge that that’s just who I am, and then still try to let go of the anxiety, rather than telling myself to stop being so anxious.I think it instills self-sympathy instead of self-criticism, if that makes sense. Anyway, this is thought defusion:
Pick an image of something moving away from you, clouds in the sky or leaves on a stream or waves washing in and out. Then take a few slow, deep breaths and close your eyes. Imagine your thoughts moving away from you. Let the thought arise, and then picture it floating away on the clouds or leaves or being wiped away by the waves. As new thoughts come up, let them float away, too. Don’t judge the thought — don’t think about it as being a good thought or a bad thought — and don’t judge yourself for thinking it. It just is what it is and then it floats away. Go for as long as you can, and then take a few more slow breaths and open your eyes.
I say go for as long as you can because me being me, two or three minutes is about as long as I can handle. But if you’re better at being peaceful than I am, you can set a timer and go for ten minutes or fifteen minutes. The nice thing is, two or three minutes, at least for me, can almost feel like a nap. It’s very relaxing to let my thoughts float away instead of having them build intricate webs inside my brain.
I wish I had a picture of a floating leaf to add to this post!