In a guided meditation app that I use, an interesting and fun game that they introduced as “Whack-a-Thought.” Quite similar to the arcade-favorite “Whack-a-Mole” albeit less violent and in relation to a mindfulness practice.
Often times, intrusive thoughts can plague and detract from our meditation experience and we often struggle with being with them. There is a misconception that we have to block out these thoughts during meditation, but that is the opposite of what we should be doing. Being mindfully aware of our thoughts, not dwelling and obsessing over them, and not blocking them out is the key to a successful practice. As thoughts arise, acknowledge them, give it a name if you can, let it go and return to your breath. Repeat as often as needed.
An interesting tool that I picked up for this technique is a hand tally counter much like you would see in the hands of someone at a ticket gate. At times when I am dealing with racing thoughts and need to slow my anxiety down, I will take the tally counter in my hand and sit down and meditate with it. Every time that I have a thought arise, I click the counter. The goal is to click the counter as few times as possible, much like scoring in golf but don’t feel like its a competition to get the lowest score. For me, if I start off clicking the counter every few seconds or so but then slow down to once every 10 seconds, I consider that a success. I have found that the tactile feedback of using the counter helps engrain the healthy habit of acknowledging a though and releasing it while still being mindful of the thoughts that I am experiencing at the time.
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” – Pema Chodron