Calming your thoughts: The labeling technique

Last week, we explored the counting technique, a method to help you calm your thoughts during meditation. This week, another helpful tool: the labeling technique.

Listen to the podcast:

Or, read the blog:

Have you ever been to, say, the grocery store and noticed a mom with her small child. Mom’s trying to have a conversation with the cashier and the child is trying to get her attention. He’s tugging on her pant leg. “Mom,” tug, tug, tug … “‘Mom,” tug, tug … “Mommy!” Finally, mom reaches down and touches the child’s head and he’s quiet. He just wanted a little attention and when he got it he settled down.

During meditation, thoughts can act just like that little child. They keep tugging at us, begging for our attention.

The labeling technique can be helpful in this situation, because it satisfies the thought’s needs for attention, so we can let it go.

Here’s how it works:

As always, bring your attention to the breath and follow it as best you can.

When a thought arises, give it a simple, straight-forward label. Say the label silently to yourself, then allow the thought to go on without you. Relax. Remember, the thought isn’t gone forever. You can think it later. Return your attention to the breath.

The labels should be simple. For example: Planning, remembering, worrying, etc.

Don’t get concerned about finding the right label. If you do that, you might end up lost in thoughts about labels. For this reason, some people like to use the label, “thinking,” for all of their thoughts.

Why it works

The labeling technique works because it takes some of the energy away from the thought. It gives the thought the barest amount of the attention it craves, so it becomes easier to let go of the thought and return to the breath.

Let’s try the labeling technique:

The following is a 12-minute guided meditation including the labeling technique.


One more thing…

If you enjoyed this lesson, please share it using the social media buttons you see below, or click here to tell your friends.

To automatically receive notice of new lessons, use one of these links:
Email (you’ll get free extras)  |  iTunes  |  Android

If you subscribe by email before January 1, 2018, you’ll get a holiday treat at Christmas and another one for the New Year!

Need a little relaxation?

Subscribe to the newsletter and get a free guided deep relaxation

Unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your email address. Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply