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Leaves on the stream

Meditation Exercise: Leaves on the stream by far my favourite and what I practice most. This is an eye-closed exercise. First read the instructions and then when you are sure you understand them, close your eyes and do the exercise. Or you can use the recordings at the end of this post. Imagine a beautiful slow-moving stream. The water flows over rocks, around trees, descends down-hill, and travels through a valley. Once in a while, a big leaf drops into the stream and floats away down the river. Imagine you are sitting beside that stream on a warm, sunny day, watching the leaves float by. Now become conscious of your thoughts. Each time a thought pops into your head, imagine that it is written on one of those leaves.
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Below are some personal recommendations by our team of therapists.

A cceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT provides us with the tools to practice cognitive defusion , which is the willingness to let go of the attachment and over-identification with thoughts that cause suffering. Cognitive defusion is a tool that, when mindfully and diligently practiced, serves to disentangle you from thoughts that cause you to suffer. You are the eternal and mindful presence that is capable of noticing your thoughts enter into conscious awareness, sit in the forefront of your awareness, and then leave awareness. The way to begin to free yourself from unnecessary emotional suffering begins with your willingness to look at your thoughts in a new way. If your patterns of thinking or negative self-talk tends to cause you significant emotional distress, begin to ask yourself how willing you are to try to consider those thoughts differently. Pause 10 seconds. Do this with each thought — pleasurable, painful, or neutral. Even if you have joyous or enthusiastic thoughts, place them on a leaf and let them float by. Sooner or later, your thoughts will start up again. Pause 20 seconds.
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In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ACT , practicing mindfulness and acceptance is a way to begin to notice our present moment experience with less struggle. Below we provide links to a variety of exercises that many people have found helpful. The exercises below help you become more aware of thoughts, feelings, and emotions from a stance of acceptance and willingness. These exercises are specifically developed for people struggling with anxiety. This next exercise below is similar to the Acceptance of Thoughts and Feelings exercise above, but is a little more challenging. The Body Scan is typically done sitting or lying down. It gradually draws your attention from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head. Any of the daily activities we do can be a time to practice being in the present moment, including while eating, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, or brushing out teeth. Below are meditations on eating mindfully and observing your own hand mindfully. This animated short from Joe Oliver illustrates the usefulness of practicing acceptance.

Meditation Exercise: Leaves on the stream by far my favourite and what I practice most. This is an eye-closed exercise. First read the instructions and then when you are sure you understand them, close your eyes and do the exercise. Or you can use the recordings at the end of this post.

Imagine a beautiful slow-moving stream. The water flows over rocks, around trees, descends down-hill, and travels through a valley. Once in a while, a big leaf drops into the stream and floats away down the river.

Imagine you are sitting beside that stream on a warm, sunny day, watching the leaves float by. Now become conscious of your thoughts. Each time a thought pops into your head, imagine that it is written on one of those leaves. If you think in words, put them on the leaf as words. If you think in images, put them on the leaf as an image. The goal is to stay beside the stream and allow the leaves on the stream to keep flowing by.

If the leaves disappear, or if you mentally go somewhere else, or if you find that you are in the stream or on a leaf, just stop and notice that this happened. File that knowledge away and then once again return to the stream, watch a thought come into your mind, write it on a leaf, and let the leaf float away down the stream. Continue doing this for at least 5 minutes. If the instructions are clear to you now, go ahead and close your eyes and do the exercise. Many times we become fused to a thought without even being aware of it. In many cases, you may not even notice them as thoughts.

Other particularly sticky thoughts are emotional thoughts, comparative ones, and temporal or causal ones. A recording of the exercise in English starts after 5 seconds :.

Leaves on the stream — 11 minutes starts quicker, less guidance towards the end. Leaves on the stream — 20 minutes starts with being aware and accepting body sensation. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Meditation Exercise: Leaves on the stream by far my favourite and what I practice most This is an eye-closed exercise. Or you can use the recordings at the end of this post Imagine a beautiful slow-moving stream.

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