Trains of Thought

Susan Brumbaugh
4 min readFeb 5, 2021

Here’s a helpful metaphor to deal with thoughts that just won’t quit.

Photo by Sam Farallon on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a strategy to try when thoughts swirl or your mind won’t stop, a metaphor-based meditation might be useful. This practice comes from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is the type of counseling I use with many of my clients, and it can be helpful in learning to observe and then let go of thoughts. Today’s meditation uses a train metaphor to work with thoughts that can sometimes carry us away, and it’s difficult to think of anything else or focus on anything. I hope that you’ll find this metaphor useful, and once you practice it you’ll be able to use it anytime.

I’m a licensed mental health counselor who enjoys sharing mindful meditations and information about mindfulness. Below is a transcript of a meditation I led on this topic, and at the end of the article, you’ll find a link to the meditation video. Give it a try and see what you notice.

Meditation Transcript

As we enter into this time, we know that we’re going to be focusing on thoughts. Even so, the thoughts of the moment can interfere a little bit with even getting started.

So take a moment to acknowledge that thoughts are there, and they will continue to swirl. But with a few deep breaths and whatever movements would feel comfortable, begin to enter into this time of meditation. You can stretch. Meditation doesn’t require being stock-still.

And if you’re comfortable closing your eyes, you can do that, but it’s fine to leave them open.

Inviting the thoughts to move into the background. They can still swirl away and, at the same time, we can focus on what’s happening in the present moment. The thoughts don’t have to stop for us to meditate.

Let’s take a moment to use our senses to notice what’s happening around us through sound or smell immediately outside us, through physical sensation, and within us. And we get to use our senses there too.

We can notice the physical sensation of breath moving through the body. Noting that that movement also involves sound. We can notice the taste of our own mouth. Maybe there are lingering flavors from whatever we ate or drank prior to meditation.



Susan Brumbaugh

Susan Brumbaugh is a criminal justice researcher who telecommutes, a licensed counselor, a mindfulness meditation practitioner, and a perpetual learner.