By visualizing a particular nature scene, I’ve begun to bring a little more ease into my life. I really love this mindfulness practice (and I’m still working on it) because it frees me from clinging to all the never-ending thoughts. Plus, it fits in perfectly with the changing seasons.
“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
Since my part of the world is experiencing a colorful shift into Autumn, the mental image I’ve been using for my mindfulness practice lately incorporates the falling leaves—specifically, leaves floating by on the water’s surface.
In my meditation practice, I’ve been visualizing leaves drifting along the water’s surface, carried by the current and the wind into and out of sight. This represents the thoughts that come and go, making an appearance in the mind, coming and leaving as we let them.
This is the practice of letting things go, or, perhaps more accurately, of letting things be.
If we simply allow the thoughts to be there, letting them come into sight as they will, could we just as easily allow them to float out of sight, out of the mind, without attachment and suffering? Can we allow what is without needing to change it?
This mindfulness practice has proven to me that, yes, it is possible to let things be and to move on with my day (and my life), less burdened by the thoughts that happen to occur.
Whether you meditate or you’d just like to feel freedom from the thoughts that happen to occur, I lovingly suggest you try this mindfulness practice. Try it more than once, maybe for a week or more; write the steps down or print this post if you’d like a visual reminder.
This truly is simple, though, and it’s not set in stone. (Nothing is set in stone.) Follow along, and let me know about any space this helps you bring into your life.
A Seasonal Mindfulness Practice to Let Things Be and Let Yourself Be Free
“Allow.” This is the mantra that has been bringing me back home. This is the mantra that I use in this mindfulness practice, to let things be what they are without interference.
When you start noticing yourself feeling trapped, weighted, confined, defined, or controlled by the thoughts in your head, follow these steps:
1. Say or think, “Stop.” This is your firm reminder to 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 present moment (however long it lasts for you) be the Witness; 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. It can be helpful to close your eyes. You can be sitting on a bench or on the ground, standing by the water’s edge near a large oak tree, or anything else. Feel yourself there. There are leaves floating by on the water’s surface, into and out of your line of vision.
4. Visualize each of your thoughts now sitting atop the leaves; one thought for each leaf, one leaf for each thought. As you notice a thought, however painful or pleasurable, see it actually spelled out in words, or portrayed as an image. Look at it. You’re not the thought: You are 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. You can continue to look at it as it floats by, left to right or right to left, but eventually is drifts out of sight. Let it come; let it go. You are a witness to the current.
6. Remain a witness to the “thought leaves” until you feel peaceful. Continue watching your thoughts, floating in accordance 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 that it suits you and the season of your life. It could take a few minutes or a few seconds, or anywhere in between or outside of those time frames, to work for you. Maybe it won’t work, but maybe it’s worth a try.When we let things be as they are, we let ourselves be free of their control. Click To Tweet
Allow is a powerful mantra. It’s a signal that, just for this moment, we can let things be. We can detach just enough to realize that though thoughts might never end, we can see them differently: from a distance.
- If you try this mindfulness practice, let me know: What did it reveal to you? Did it help you create ease in your head, space in your perspective, or something else?
- Think of one area of your life that could use a healthy dose of ease: What’s one thing you’re willing to see differently? (You don’t have to figure out why or how you’re going to do that, just what you’re ready to see change.)
Please share your thoughts, any other mindfulness exercises that work for you, what helps you retain a sense of peace and calm when your mind starts “racing,” and any helpful or hopeful stories with me in the comments.
If you have a friend who wants to transcend their monkey mind, send them this mindfulness practice; it might breathe some fresh air into their system.
Allow. Allow. Allow. You are the watcher, seeing all that currently is, knowing that it will come, and it will go, as surely as the current keeps flowing.