Mindfulness Of Thoughts Timeline Training
Learn How To Practice Mindfulness With A Tap
In our day to day life, we’re often great at worry about the future and regretting the past, but forget about paying attention to the present! This is a real shame when you stop and think about it, as the present is the only thing that really exists. Mindfulness is the art of getting better at noticing the present so you can be fully engaged with your life as it occurs in a meaningful way.
A simple way to practice mindfulness is through the timeline exercise below. The aim of this exercise is to learn to notice how your brain wanders between the past, present, and future across a short period of time. With practice this will help you get better at staying in contact with the present more easily.
How To Start Tracking Your Thoughts
Observing your thoughts it tough even for seasoned mindfulness pros, so lets start small.
You’re going to start by just tracking your thoughts across time. As most of your thoughts, feelings are associated with a specific time in your life, (even one that may not have happened yet!) this is a great thing to start observing.
Take a moment to centre yourself and then start to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. Your only job here to notice what comes up.
Now as you do this tap and hold the circle below. As you notice thoughts starting to pop up slide the circle along the timeline to whichever point it corresponds to. For example if you start noticing an anxious thought like “what if I’m late tomorrow”, then slide the circle towards the future. If it’s a regretful thought such as “I can’t believe I embarrassed myself at work last week” then slide it towards the past.
Remember too that this is a continuum, so find whatever point on the line feels right to you.
Keep doing this for about 5 minutes. Remember just to let your mind wander as it will and try not to judge yourself or whatever comes up.
Reviewing Your Mindfulness Timeline Practice
Once you’ve finished your practice take a moment to reflect on some of the following questions:
- What did you notice about your thoughts?
- Did a specific theme keep coming up?
- Did a particular time keep popping up?
- Did your thoughts move all over the timeline?
For most beginners it’s common for their thoughts to move all over the place when starting out. And that’s completely okay! Remember the aim here was to notice where your thoughts occur in time, not to judge them.
As you progressively build this skill you’ll be boosting your attentional capacity which can be really helpful with being able to shift your focus to the present moment (that little place that you’re existing right now!).
Advanced Contact With The Present Exercise
After you’ve had a play with the first exercise a few times, you can try moving onto something a little more tricky. This time we’ll repeat the exercise, but with the intention of trying to stay more in the present. The thing to remember here is that you’re not trying to control your thoughts, you’re just trying to notice the process of you mind drifting. Tricky right? But when you notice that you’re drifting you’re actually back in the present moment!
With a bit of practice, you’ll find yourself getting better at staying in the present for more and more time. The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere. All you need to do is imagine the timeline somewhere on your body like your arm of thigh and you’re good to go.
Good luck with learning to stay more in contact with your present and having a better chance of enjoying the good stuff in life!
If you’re looking for a Sydney psychologist to help you build more skills in connecting with your best self then feel free to contact us for either face-to-face or online therapy sessions.