Points covered in this episode:
“I would love some tips on how to better, or more rapidly, process anxious thoughts, rather than just trying to distract myself from them.”
This starts with a conscious decision to stay with the thought. To notice when we are reaching for a distraction. This is the time to stop and take a breath, then make a conscious choice to respond.
Then we get to choose how we want to process the thought, we could choose journaling, sitting with it and breathing, or going for a walk to help our mind clear and settle. We can also use questions to check in with ourselves, by asking, “Where is this thought coming from? Why is it snagging me? What do I need?”
If it’s an anxious thought that’s uncomfortable, we can practice [Tapping and breathing] to diffuse its intensity and settle our mind.
“My biggest issue is: How do I honor my thoughts, but still let go of them? Through my meditation practice I know that rejecting thoughts is just as destructive as latching onto them. I have not yet found a way to master that fine line.”
We’re aiming for neutrality here. To honor and respect our thoughts, we may need to give them some space and time and be curious about them, but let them pass by without getting hooked. Look for their lessons and let them go.
Ayurveda teaches that we need to digest and process our thoughts, there’s a teaching on this in our How to Calm your Fragile Mind courseabout letting thoughts ripen and naturally fade. Sometimes, the example is used of flower that develops from a tight bud to an open flower that reveals its structure and colors, and then it starts to fade and break down back into the earth.
Processing our more significant thoughts may need to happen in stages and over time, we honor them by giving them space and listening to them. We might discuss them with someone we trust, or write about them, or check in on them while sitting quietly, and in time we will see they take more of a back seat in our mind and pass through.
When we digest a healthy meal, our body benefits from the nutrition and releases the bulk of the meal as waste, this is how we need to be with our thoughts. Not clinging or rejecting – though that’s exactly what the mind will be inclined to do with them. But we need to relax, absorb the lessons, make adjustments in our life where we can, and let the thoughts move on in their own time.