The movie theater has a screen on which images are constantly being projected. You are sitting in a chair in the audience, watching the images. You see the image of a bad guy aiming a gun at you but you are not scared and do not run for cover. You see the image of a snake but you are not leaving your seat and running away. At the end of the movie, you walk out of the theater with memories of some images, which will fade away after some time.
The mind is like that movie screen. Thoughts are like the images coming on the screen. They are mostly images of past negative or stressful experiences. YOU are the audience watching them. Treat the thoughts coming into your mind as you treated those images on the screen. Watch them passively and let them pass on. Don’t confuse the thoughts to be your own creations. You really don’t know who is projecting those thoughts into your mind without your permission.
Alternatively, whenever you feel stressed due to a negative thought, you can project your own chosen image and calm your mind. The secret of the mind is only one thought can be in the mind at a moment. If thought ‘A’ is in the mind, ‘B’ can’t be there. If ‘B’ is in the mind, thought ‘A’ can’t be there. We can displace the stressful thought ‘A’ by ‘B’ i.e, ‘focusing on breathing’ (FOB) using one of the modes. As long as the sensation of the breath or its number is lingering in your mind, no stressful thought can enter it. Every time, ‘A’ enters evict it using FOB. Gradually, the mind gets more comfortable with FOB and by will naturally lose its addiction for stressful thoughts.
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Another example: Balloons without air