Reclaiming Your Thoughts Through Mindfulness

by Emily Trama

Our thoughts come and go like breaths in and out. Some we never notice; others we dwell on. Some consume every moment of our day, making us feel anxious. This is when we need to give ourselves a moment to sit and do nothing but think.

For many people, this is an overwhelming proposition. In such a fast-paced world, we would often rather let the business of the day block out our natural thoughts and keep us distracted from them as long as possible… but how do you deal with things if you never face them? The good news is, you don’t have to prepare for a ferocious battle. There’s no need to shed blood just yet. Instead, we need to sit, relax and, like our breath, allow thoughts to flow in and out of our consciousness. 

Close your eyes and imagine your thoughts are clouds in the sky, slowly but steadily passing you by. As thoughts come up, whether they are issues, excitements, anxieties or your favorite memories, pin each of them to a cloud.

Acknowledge the thought and appreciate it the way you do a cloud that looks like a bird or a ship. After a moment allow the cloud to pass by, not to be seen again for a while and maybe even to come back in a new form that you no longer recognize. A cloud doesn’t stop moving, your breath doesn’t stop moving and your mind doesn’t stop moving, but we do hold the ability to slow things down in our heads when we set an intention to.

This is called mindfulness: being aware of one’s self in whatever moment you find yourself in. I look at mindfulness as the ability to control the pace of my thoughts. I’m still learning how to be the one in charge of that pace. Other thoughts or people can seep into your head and start to take the reins of your mind and steer your thoughts one way or another. This can be something that worries you deeply or excites you so much that you become distracted from reality.

They may tell you that your irrational thoughts are rational and the rational ones are irrational. They can make you think less of something great or highly of something poor. I like to think of these thoughts as rain clouds in my sky. I can ignore them for awhile. I can tell myself it’s fine, that they will pass and maybe I’ll even tell myself they aren’t really rain clouds. But if I don’t face reality and acknowledge that the clouds are grey, dark and gloomy, it’s going to rain on me. 

There are people in our lives that make our skies dark and stormy. How many days of rain can you take before you find yourself on your knees begging for the sun to come out? Do you acknowledge the first drop or do you wait until the flood is up to your neck, threatening to drown you? 

There never really is a better time than the present. Now marks the moment you begin to decide who you need to step away from in order to stop the rains and clear the flood. This is never an easy task. How do we just erase the history of a relationship or the amazing memories, the laughs, the good feeling someone may give us in brief and fleeting moments?

The answer is simple: you don’t.

You cannot and should not even attempt to forget that piece of your life, your being. These people and memories helped bring you to this point and taught you something important… that you are the one in control of your mind. They are the ones that forced your fingers to bend, your hand to grasp around your life and your inner voice to say, “This is mine and only mine.”

Close your eyes again. Instead of your thoughts, imagine the people in your life that bring rain clouds with them whenever they come around. Now pin those people to the white clouds that pass so smoothly and softly through the sky. Like your thought clouds, they will come back again, but differently now; a little more distant, smaller, blurring away into the background like a haze in the sky. 

When you see them, smile, acknowledge them and the role they played in your journey up to that very moment, and walk away. Keep walking until they become distant, smaller, and blur into the sea of other people and things around you. Slowly but surely, the relationship you once had will fade as well, never leaving entirely, but may never take the shape it once had.

Perhaps, for the first time in a while, you can suddenly look at your sky and see only white clouds: your own thoughts. After a while of sitting with those thoughts, they all will pass and you can finally find the time to close your eyes and feel the sun on your face.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Tenacity” The Teller October 2019 Issue #7

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