Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend. – Jim Harrison
Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue within our minds, that is the manifestation of our thoughts. Sometimes our self-talk or thoughts are kind and positive, supporting and encouraging us, such as, “Don’t be afraid, – you can do it!” Other times, they can become a destructive enemy, suggesting we don’t deserve any measure of happiness.
Our minds hear these inner thoughts or talk, and sometimes they get stuck on an endless repeat. The subconscious mind might then have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and imagination, as both positive and negative thoughts may stimulate neural networks and result in physical reactions in the body.
We can use mental imagery to our advantage in slowly or stopping those recurring thoughts, through simple visualization techniques. Listening to slow music and visualizing your day helps to organize your thoughts, mentally prepare you, and reduce stress. Studies on visualization techniques have shown positive outcomes whereby the subconscious mind hears and believes a suggestion leading to a boost in confidence and mental preparedness, not felt before. www.huffpost.com
I have used the following visualization to help me deal with persistent undesired thoughts, feeling of anxiety, frustration or stress and just when I am feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or wish to calm down.
I use a visualisation that involves imagining that I am sitting comfortably on the bank of a stream, watching random twigs or branches float by with the gentle current. I imagine that a twig, branch or even a leaf, is an individual thought.
- Sit comfortably on the bank of your ‘imaginary’ stream.
- When a thought comes along in your mind, imagine seeing that thought as a twig or leaf, floating on the surface of the water.
- Watch each leaf, or thought, approach from a bend further up the stream; imagine each leaf approaching you, getting closer and closer, until it floats in front of you.
- Acknowledge its presence but continue to watch it floating by with the gentle current.
- Continue watching it on its way downstream, until it slowly disappears from view and is out of sight.
You can use a leaf for a minor thought like a household chore that needs to be done and a branch for a big “worry,” if that helps you. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the movement down the stream and out of sight.
Occasionally a twig will get stuck on the side of the bank, (ie the persistent unstoppable thought), until the current builds and builds and then you imagine seeing it finally washing downstream, too.
Sometimes you might find your focus wanders a little, or that twig gets stuck for too long behind a rock on the bank. Distract the mind into letting the thought go, by moving your focus to look further upstream again, to ‘see,’ what thought the mind will come up with next. Try it!
Feel free to adjust location, or image, as you prefer. You might prefer sitting in a field watching a animal such as a bird, (or deer) instead of a leaf in a stream. You could watch the bird come into your line of sight, watch it pause to eat and then watch it fly away.
In this way your mind allows thoughts to come, it acknowledges them, yet you remain a silent observer of your thoughts. You are not fighting to keep the thoughts away.
This allows the mind to release the thought and leave your attention. This is way better than the troubling thought! It gives your mind that much-needed break.
Visualization is one of the ways to get your mind back on track when you feel out of balance.
Another stress relief technique from another blogger:
“Lie on your back and imagine all the stress in your body is warm lava concentrated at the top of your head. Then, slowly imagine it pouring down your ears, neck, shoulders, and entire body. You should actually feel a sensation roll down your body as you imagine the stress leaving your head. I use this to fall asleep, and I have never stayed awake past my shoulders.”WordPress blogger
The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold