Sometimes my thoughts feel like those running news streams at the bottom of a TV screen. I may be doing one thing (going for a walk, making dinner, driving, etc.) and the whole time I’ve got this commentary/thought stream running right through the middle of it.
Thinking is not the problem. Thinking is part of being human. The problem is when I believe everything I think. The problem is when my thoughts negatively impact my choices, my emotions,my relationships and my sense of myself.
You are not your thoughts. And today’s ajna* (self-guided) practice offers three tools for tracking thoughts so we can get some space between us and what we’re thinking, so we can look at our thoughts with curiosity and decide whether or not we want act on or even believe them. Find the video here.
The 3 Tools for Tracking Thoughts with Curiosity
1. Physical Cue ~ One approach to tracking thoughts is to choose to give yourself a physical cue when you find yourself being pulled or distracted, criticized or judged by your thinking. In the Dancing Water Daily practice on Friday, May 15, 2020, you’ll see me doing a “Pinkie Practice” of lifting a little finger when I notice I’ve been pulled out of the moment by my thinking. It’s not a good or bad thing, but simple a heightening of thought-awareness!
2. Mental Noting ~ This is a meditation technique that invites us to make quiet mental notes when we realize we have been caught in a strand of thinking. I love the simple and clear practice on Insight Timer called Noting Thoughts by Rachel Grace. In it, she offers a brief explanation of the technique followed by a practice period in which you can use the note “thinking, thinking” or you can play with more descriptive words like “planning, planning,” or “worrying, worrying,” or “remembering, remembering.” I find it hugely helpful. You can find it here.
3. Write it down, Get it out of your head ~ When I feel very upset, angry or sad and especially when I can feel that it is a spiral of thinking that got me there, it helps me to write down everything that’s in my head. In uncensored, stream-of-consciousness flow, I just dump it all on the page. The very act of writing it down gets it out of my head and creates space so I can see what’s going on. It can also help to talk through everything that’s in my head with a friend, but be sure that your listener is, in fact, a real listener and not a fixer or someone who is going to talk you out of your feelings. A particularly powerful approach to writing is called The Work which was developed by Byron Katie. If you go to her wonderful web site, you’ll find worksheets, resources, and some great videos of the process. You can find that here.
As always, I’d love to hear how you use these tools and any others that you love to navigate that streaming ticker-tape of thinking!
* Ajna is a Sanskrit word that means perceive, intuition and inner knowing. Ajna practices offer you the opportunity to be your own teacher and tap into your inner wisdom.
~~~ Music Credits ~~~
Title song for Dancing Water Daily:
Kate’s Waltz 3:44 Bad Snacks, YouTube Audio Library
THIS WEEK’S DANCING WATER DAILY PRACTICES ~ Thought Monsters & Other Dance Partners
Monday, May 11 ~ Nourishing Movement at Dancing Water: Thought Monsters & Other Dance Partners ~ find it here https://youtu.be/2iQdIzAhuUc
Tuesday, May 12 ~ Nourishing Movement at Dancing Water: Monkey Mind & Hummingbird Thinking ~ find it here
Wednesday, May 13 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga: Noticing Thoughts ~ find it here https://youtu.be/kp_6E-l2HFA
Thursday, May 14 ~ Dharma Dance from Dancing Water: Nancy & The Shitty Committee Take a Break ~ find it here https://youtu.be/Xg8rFsBstIY
Friday, May 15 ~ All Out, All You Dance Party from Dancing Water: You Are Not Your Thoughts ~ find it here https://youtu.be/pmyKXuyC2ig
Saturday, May 16 ~ Ajna (Self-Guided) Practice: Tracking Thoughts with Curiosity ~ find it here
Sunday, May 17 ~ Moon River Restorative Yoga: The Space Between Thoughts
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