Exercise - Your Mind is Like an Ocean
(Teens and Adults)
This exercise helps to develop Mindsight (see Mindsight by Dan Siegel) which is the ability to step back from ourselves see the workings of our own mind and the minds of others. It is our ability to recognize and think about what we are experiencing instead of simply reacting to it.
Make sure you don’t have other competing activities going on around you (i.e. the TV is off, the kids are taken care of, cell phone is off…), and you have a comfortable spot to relax.
Now let’s focus our attention on taking a deep breath. Feel the air as you breathe it in through your noise. It fills up your lungs pushing your chest up. Breathe in a little more, filling all the way down to your tummy. Hold. And slowly let the breath out as you feel the heaviness of your body sinking down into your seat.
Now, just keep breathing slowly. Continue to pay attention to where ever you feel your breath most clearly as I tell you a story.
This is an ancient story. In this story I want you to imagine that your mind is like an ocean. And deep in the ocean it’s calm and peaceful. And no matter what is going on up top on the surface of the ocean, here you are relaxed and safe. From this depth you look up towards the surface and simply notice the all the activity up there. The surface, like the surface of your mind, is full of waves, like your brain waves, busy with all the activity of the mind. These waves are all your thoughts of the future, your feelings, your body’s perceptions, and memories from the past. From this calm and quiet place deep in the ocean of your mind we are going to just observe the business at the surface of our mind. And if a thought or memory starts to float down to cover your attention I want you to recognize it, name it, and lovingly let it float back to the surface. Notice that I said ‘lovingly’ let it go, because the activity on the surface, all the thoughts, feelings, dreams, and fears, all of this - is just information. Information about you. You don’t need to judge the information as good or bad. Right or wrong. It just is. So you just let the thoughts float back to the surface, and then refocus your attention back on your breath as you float in the deep quiet ocean of your mind.
(pause a moment)
And now, let’s take a deep breath. Again, notice as the air fills your lungs, expanding your chest and filling your tummy. Breathe out slowly as you stretch out your arms and legs, and open your eyes.