Have some alternative thought sequences ready

Mindfulness is the big pyjamas when it comes to observing the mind and trying to steer it in a different direction. However, seeing your own relentless thought patterns is one thing and changing them is another; it's not easy and requires dedication and effort. It's good to come well prepared with some alternative thought sequences to help salve the annoying, contracted, obsessive thoughts that roam through our heads. Here's a few I like to try:

1. Go neutral. You see someone, you judge them, the mind revs up, your mindfulness notices, you introduce some neutral statements. I am breathing, the car is red, the sun is warm, the wall is full of bricks; that kind of thing.

2. Let go. You're driving along, someone cuts you up, pushes in, you want instant revenge, your mindfulness reminds you that it never does you any good, you let it go. Say 'yes', 'it's OK', 'I forgive you', 'this is the way it is'.

3. Be unconditional and expansive. A family member pushes your buttons, you feel like blowing your stack, mindfulness pleads with you to stop, you know you love them really. Say 'I love you', 'I forgive you', and remember that it's a big, big Universe full of dark, dark places and such trifles are best left unprovoked.

4. Don't try to fix it. You're at home, life seems crummy, the future seems bleak, gloom thoughts start lining up to torment you, mindfulness flickers into life and tells you not to go there. Don't be a fortune teller, or catastrophise negative outcomes. Say 'I don't know' to every thought that comes along, because, well, we don't do we?

I'm sure there are more. Another practise to try along these lines is tonglen. In this case, we breath in the crappiness of the world and breathe out compassion. In this way we train ourselves to react with compassion to the difficult circumstances of life rather than some other unpleasant method of coping.



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