If you have thoughts that visit your mind without your permission, we call these Intrusive Thoughts. If you have memories that produce images or videos that play without your permission, we call these Flashbacks. To halt intrusive thoughts or to interrupt flashbacks, we can train our mind to put this content into a container.
Imagine a genie's bottle, where one command vanishes the genie into the vessel so that we can quickly place a lid on to prevent escape. Each thought is no more powerful than a genie, and all thoughts can be commanded into a container of your choice. We are using the container to store the thought until we are ready to process the thought. It is important to embrace that intrusive thoughts and flashbacks deserve attention, but that intention should be at your choosing. This container allows you to decide what to process and when to process it.
Step one, choose the container. It helps if the container is real. You may use an old shoe box, a tupperware container, a small wooden box with a lid, or decorate an empty wine bottle and partially insert the cork stopper.
After you have your container, practice this meditation every day for 10 minutes. After one week of practice, begin to practice each time you have an intrusive thought or flashback. Within two weeks, the intrusive thoughts or flashbacks should go into the container with ease. The more you practice, the more effective the container will become.
Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed.
Start in a comfortable position. Sit so that your back is supported. Or if you prefer, lie down.
Relax your body and make sure that no parts of your body or limbs are crossing.
To support your surrender to this moment, focus on your breathing.
Take a full deep breath in...now hold it...and exhale slowly. Repeat, deeply pulling air into your lungs…pause…then exhale as slowly as you can.
This next breath, notice your belly rise...then pause…and notice your belly fall with the exhale.
Allow yourself to see the container in your mind’s eye. Softly describe facts about your container: my container is [what shape], my container is [what color], my container is [what texture/temperature/weight].
See the location of your container and trust that location is safe: my container is [in what location], it is safe and any thoughts I place in this container are protected.
Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly. Allow yourself to see the thought go into the container. Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly. See the lid on the container safely lock away the thought.
Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly. Allow yourself to trust that the thought is safe in the container. Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly. Acknowledge that you will process the thoughts in this container on your own terms, when you feel ready to do so.
Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly. Notice your body now that the thought is away from you. Notice yourself releasing any tension or worry. Notice yourself becoming calm and letting go. Take a deep breath. Exhale very slowly.
Below are some common issues for new practice with the container, and reliable remedies:
The thoughts won’t go in the container!
Ask yourself – What is the danger of letting it go in?
Ask yourself – What’s keeping it from going in?
What if I lose this thought or flashback?
Everything you need is always available to you. Setting aside this thought or flashback is not erasure, but an intentional pause that can be as brief as one hour or as long as many weeks.
This thought seems urgent?
Sometimes worry feels urgent and sometimes thoughts or flashbacks are REALLY ready to be processed. If you want to process the thought or flashback, embrace the task without allowing looping to happen. TICES is always a great process to avoid worry loops. If you don’t have time to process at this moment, assure yourself that you will process fully at a specific moment.
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute direction from a health professional.
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