Noticing Thoughts Like a Photo Album

What I have for you today is a cool little experiment and you can probably do this right with your cell phone. If you’ve got your cell phone and you’ve got one of those photo books, go ahead and grab that, go to your gallery and see if you can find a whole bunch of pictures with you in it, especially your facial features. I would like for you to be able to see the different emotional states.

Now, with the phone in front of you, what I’d like for you to do is just flip, picture, by picture, by picture, by picture. Notice yourself in there. Watch the different states that you’re in, the different situations that you’re in, the different people that you’re with. They constantly change, happy, sad, complacent. You probably don’t have as many of the ones where you’re actually sad because how many people are actually going to take a picture of this. If you can, imagine some of those as well, or maybe you know that in that picture you looked like you were just content, but actually, you were quite sad that day.

Keep flipping, happy, sad, angry, excited, frustrated. Maybe the thrill of victory in winning something or you can see that you were disappointed because you didn’t quite do what you wanted. Notice this, just keep flipping. Notice all of these things.

Now imagine that these are all your thoughts. In a way they kind of are. They’re memories that have been encapsulated digitally on your phone.

Now consider this, you’re the phone. This is what your life is like daily. All these thoughts rushing through you. You’re the phone and every single thing that’s happening, flip, flip, flip is thought one, thought two, thought three, thought four. It comes and it goes. Not actually the phone itself, just the memories, just the thoughts, just the feelings, just the desires. All of these things. They’re coming and they’re going.

Why is this important? Once again, one of the biggest benefits that mindfulness gives us is the ability to be able to step back from that which we refuse to, to be able to objectify that which we were subject to. In doing this, we can bring down certain levels of distress because we’re here in the now and we realize that this too will pass.

Go ahead, try it again, and if he didn’t get up to get your phone, try it some time, just flip through it. You don’t even have to get up, you can just imagine a frame with all kinds of pictures of you in it. All the memories that you can think of. This time when things were good. This times when things were bad. This time when I had won something. This time when I had failed at something. Simply just notice that you are the frame observing all of these things as they happened. Just notice this. Notice what this does. More importantly, see if you can remember that you’re the frame, that you’re the phone when you’re in it, and soon you will simply just swipe left.

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