Mindfulness Blog: Part 7 - East Cheshire Hospice

Mindfulness Blog: Part 7

Mindfulness – A blog by East Cheshire Hospice’s Lindsay Dobson

Today I’d like to explore the analogy that our thoughts can be like traffic.  Sometimes the roads are clear and everything flows beautifully, other times maybe its like a traffic jam in there, everything feels stuck and heavy, but more often than not, perhaps its more like a busy motorway, thoughts zooming by.

I like to imagine that rather than being in that flow of traffic, I’m at the side of the road, watching it flow past me.  If a shiny car distracts me, I just notice and come back to letting the traffic just pass me by.  We might find that, without even noticing we have jumped on a bus and started on a journey….. that’s fine, we can gently notice and jump back off again.

You see, our thoughts are really nothing more than a momentary electric impulse, our neurons in our brain fire off, it takes less than a second (the car flashing past) and yet, for many of us, that thought of feeling can stay with us for a lot longer!!  Why?  Well speaking for myself, its usually because I hold on to it, I’ve jumped on that bus and I’m off on that journey!!  But if I remember that I don’t need to stay on this journey (especially if its a stressful one I’m not enjoying!), I can jump off . How do I do that, for me its coming back to my breath, or it might be focusing on a physical sensation, doing something energetic, a walk, a run, something to just help me take my mind away from where its gone.  The more we practice , the better we will get at jumping off the thought bus, by just noticing we are on it!!

If you like visual meditations, you can use this to help you practice.  Sit, stand, lie down, however you prefer to practice. Breath in, breath out.

What is the traffic of your mind like now?

Just notice it, watch it.

Don’t try to change it, allow it to be as it is.

Imagine you are sat at the side of the road, just watching the traffic of your mind flow on past.

If you find yourself on a vehicle going for a drive, just jump off,… come back to the side of the road

You can use any picture you like, sometimes I like to imagine my mind as the clear blue sky, the sky, the calm is always there…….but sometimes storm clouds hide it from my view.  My thoughts are the clouds.  So imagine that im lying back cloud watching, not trying to change them, I cant push them away faster than nature will allow, so I sit back and watch them pass by.  Eventually the blue sky will return.

Sometimes I’m sat on a rock in the middle of stream, and my thoughts are the leaves passing by, my thoughts float by and continue down the stream….

Maybe your thoughts are a cinema screen, they play out in front of you, but your not an actor on the screen, your an observer sat watching the drama.

Or maybe your thoughts are sound, a radio, playing in the background, again your listening, observing, rather than the radio presenter.

Maybe your mind is the weather, you can take a moment to see what the weather of your mind is like today, to stand at the window of your mind and watch it play out.

You possibly see a theme here? We are practising anything that lets you take a step back, from the thoughts and feelings. We are definitely not trying to stop them being there, we are just finding a way to step back and let nature and your mind take its own course. Why? Because it takes some of the energy and stress out of it, instead of being carried away with the stream of emotion, we can imagine we are standing calm, whilst the storm continues around us, but we are steadfast, strong and calm.

The more we practice this, the better we get at noticing when we are being carried off by a thought or feeling and are able to stop and come back to being the calm in the storm, rather than the storm itself! Sometimes will be easier than others!!  I’ve been practising this stuff pretty much constantly for over a decade and I’m certainly nowhere near perfect, the more I have to juggle the harder it is! But, I also know that all those years of practice have most definitely helped me maintain some semblance of calm at very difficult times.

I can only imagine right now, how much it may feel like a storm is raging all around, and how much for each other, and those in your care, you need to be the calm place.  But if we push away that we are also feeling it can come back to bite us.  This way we notice and acknowledge it, we just try to find a way of standing strong and calm whilst we allow that to happen.

I will leave you with the words from a meta meditation often used in Buddhist practices

May we all be healthy and strong

May we all be safe and protected

May we all be filled with love and kindness

May we all live with free and easy hearts

Lindsay x

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