All of us us at some point get affected by negative and self-defeating thoughts that keep invading the mind over and over again.
These thoughts can cause us to feel sad, anxious and depressed. Feeling low happens to everyone, but when it occurs over and over it can become rather tiresome and habitual.
The question is, what can you do to break this habit?
Today we’ll go over why mindfulness is powerful and a technique you can use to break the cycle of ruminating thought patterns.
How does mindfulness help?
Mindfulness is powerful because it teaches us a different way to relate to thoughts and emotions. It’s about learning to accept whatever is happening to us, and instead of desperately trying to change it, we simply be with whatever we are experiencing. We don’t judge or put a label on it.
When the mind tries to avoid and fix things, it only serves to fuel our negative mood. If you feel sadness, with mindfulness we simply accept it and let it be. If negative thoughts keep arising over and over again, we simply acknowledge that they are there and do our best to focus on the present moment.
In doing this, we’re taking a step back and becoming the observer. You’ll begin to realize that you’re not your thoughts or emotions, but you’re simply impartial observer to what’s happening. This can give you enormous liberation from conditioned and reactive ways of thinking.
A meditation practice to break the cycle of negative thoughts
One way to practice mindfulness is to use the breath as an object of awareness. You can place your attention at the tip of the nose or the belly and as you breathe in, just acknowledge the breath coming in and as you breathe out, acknowledge the breath going out, as if you were greeting and saying goodbye to an old friend.
When the mind wanders, even with negative thoughts, simply accept and acknowledge them and then bring your attention back to your breath. It’s normal for the mind to wander often, so don’t get discouraged if it happens continuously. You can practice this for as little as one minute or 30 minutes.
If you consistently practice this, even when you’re feeling well, you’ll become better at recognizing when your mind wanders off to ruminations and self judgements. If you’re not feeling well and you experience ruminations, simply accept them and bring your attention back to your breathe.
The one thing we can control is our attention, so simply accept that your mind is wandering do your best to gently return to the present moment.
With enough practice, you’ll become better at understanding when you’re ruminating so you can take a step back and not take these thoughts so personally. This will give you liberation from your conditioned thought patterns so you can experience peace and more self-compassion.
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