When you let the heavy things go, you can breathe a little deeper. But if you're having a hard time with that right now, use this mindfulness practice to make things easier. It'll help you let your thoughts go just as easily as they came. Less pressure to change, more freedom... to change.
“It’s not a matter of letting go—you would if you could. Instead of ‘Let it go’ we should probably say ‘Let it be.’” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Allow.” This is the mantra that's been bringing me back home.
When you feel trapped or swamped by the thoughts in your head, try this.
A Mindfulness Practice to Let Things Be, So You Can Be Free
1. Say or think, “Stop.”
Literally stop what you’re doing, sync with the present moment, and take a deep breath or three before you do anything else.
2. Say or think, “Allow.”
This is your cue to be the witness to the thoughts. Just for this moment, be the one observing the thoughts. See that they're not you. You're the one looking at them. Pay attention while consciously affirming that you don’t need to change anything right now: Allow.
3. Visualize a river or stream in front of you.
Close your eyes. Imagine you're near the water's edge, near a large oak tree. You can be sitting on a bench or on the ground or standing there. Feel yourself there. Leaves are floating by on the water’s surface, into and out of your line of vision.
4. Visualize each of your thoughts sitting atop the leaves.
There’s one thought for each leaf, one leaf for each thought. As you notice a thought, positive or negative, see it spelled out in words, or portrayed as an image. Look at it. Read it. You’re not the thought: you're the one looking at it.
5. Visualize the “thought leaf” as it floats by.
The leaf, representing the thought, has come into your line of vision. Keep looking at it as it floats by, left to right or right to left. Eventually, it drifts out of sight. Let it come; let it go. You're a witness to the current.
6. Keep watching the “thought leaves” come and go.
Keep watching your thoughts, flowing with the current, until you feel at ease with them being “there,” and you being here.
Feel free to play with the sequence of this mindfulness practice so it suits you and the season of your life. It could take a few minutes or a few seconds. It could be autumn, winter, spring or summertime.
Allow. Just for this moment, you can let things be. You can see differently: from a distance.
. . .
Where could you use a little more... allowing... in your life?
Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I'd love to know!
P.S. Need a little more help letting go? Get my book Sleep Rituals for 100 at-home practices that are all about you and the present moment. It’s more than a book about sleeping better. It’ll help you feel better so you can live and love better. And that’s… everything.