Before we can begin choosing specific thoughts, we must to learn to recognize — and become somewhat detached from — our thoughts.
A meditation associated with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy invites us to visualize letting our thoughts drift by atop leaves floating along a gently flowing stream.
The directions are simple. You imagine yourself sitting beside the stream. As thoughts enter your mind, you take each one, place it on a leaf, and let it float away.
You do this with every thought — pleasurable, painful, neutral, judgmental — for several minutes. If you notice that your attention has wandered, you gently bring it back to the exercise.
If you’d like to try this for yourself, a guided audio (approximately 13 minutes) is available here.