This exercise is designed to help you when you find it difficult to deal with negative thought patterns.
1. Imagine you are sitting on a peaceful beach. It is warm, and you are wearing a bathing suit. The tide brings warm waves lapping all around you.
2. Bobbing in the waves are clear glass bottles. Each of the bottles contains a written ‘message’ which is one of your own thoughts. Some of these thoughts are positive, and some of them are negative. They are all mixed up together. Just let them all come in on the tide, and go back out on the tide. ‘Read’ each thought as it passes by you, just recognizing that it belongs to you: you wrote the messages in the bottle. Try not to react to the message itself, just observe each one.
3. As the tide turns and begins to go out, focus your attention on one positive message that you wrote with your mind. Pluck the bottle from the sea, and hold on to it. Allow the tide to take all the other bottles back out to sea. Observe them all, getting over smaller, as the tide retreats.
4. Now perform a real-world action which relates to the message in the bottle that you have chose to keep hold of. It might be as simple as running a hot bath, taking the dog for a walk, or phoning a friend. The important thing to recognize is that you can choose which thoughts to act upon, and which to allowed to receive beyond the horizon.
Kindness and thoughtfulness bring joy to the giver, the receiver, and truly to the world. Here’s a suggestion, the next time you are dinning out take a second to note the server’s name. When you are speaking smile and use their name kindly. Look for everything that they are doing right and be quick to thank and compliment. If you get a servey, fill it out this time. Be sure to point out the great service and mention the server by name. Kindness is contagious.
Use this as a meditation mantra
A Christmas story sparks an interesting news story on kindness.
My endeavor to cultivate a mindful mindset and a focus on kindness, what I have come to know as kindfulness, has seemed challenging and a labor (litteraly a labor of love). My dual status as an Uber driver and as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist was called into question. I had a passenger call me a liar, when I indicated that I was a Licensed Therapist. I’m not quite sure why I became puffed up and insulted when this passenger stated “that’s what they all say.” Thankfully, with non-reactive awareness, I was able to maintain composure and decorum.
“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or plan responsibly for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost and regret about what the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past? But you are still grounded in the present moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
My passenger struggled with understanding how “a therapist” would be out accepting rides at 2:30am. She did not understand the nuances of my life. That I enjoy Uber driving and that my income can use the infusion of extra funds. I responded with love and explained that I was being truthful. I did not argue or plea my case. This would have trivialized my rider’s understanding and personal suffering.
I need to continue to cultivate this type of mindfulness. Daily practices and otherwise repetitious cultivation is the only way that I can achieve this.