Leaves on a Stream

Our fears, worries, and anxiety can often have such a loud voice that it covers the joyful thoughts inside our head. It can be so easy to get caught up in our worries and let them take over our precious thinking time. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus acknowledges the troubles each day can hold, but encourages us to not let our hearts and minds be consumed by it. A mindfulness exercise that can encourage us to let go of these troubles, whether they be fears, worries, or anxious thoughts is called “Leaves on a Stream.”

This simple visualization technique is used in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to cope with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. This technique uses a concept called cognitive defusion, which works by creating distance from our thoughts and feelings as a way to reduce the power they can have over us. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work to be fully present and mindful. This can be a natural challenge for many. Sit in a comfortable position and either close your eyes or rest them gently on a fixed spot in the room. You will begin by imagining a stream. Take focus on your breath as you start to imagine an ever flowing, long stream. It can have as many bends as you need it to. Whenever a thought enters your mind, you will briefly observe it, place it upon a leaf, and watch as it floats down the stream. Float as many leaves as you need down this river. As you feel led, return your focus back to the room you are in and repeat this exercise as needed, whenever your troubles arise.

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