The Worry Box Meditation:
What would it be like if you could let go of your adversarial relationship with your worries? This exercise can help shift how you think about your worries, moving them from heavy burdens to a reflection of your concerns and values. Over time, this exercise is meant to cultivate a more compassionate relationship with your worries.
I am inviting you create and spend some time in your own room of comfort. Your room of comfort does not need to exist in reality. It might even be outdoors. All that matters is that when you open the door to this place in your mind, it is full of peace and just rightness. I want you give it as many of your favorite characteristics as possible. I’ll be asking you to think about your favorite smells, colors, items, time of day, temperature, and sounds so that you can fill this room with these qualities.
Go ahead and get in comfortable position. Close your eyes and imagine your room of comfort. The attributes of this place evoke a sense of peace and pleasure in you. Here, it is the exact right temperature for you; identify that, feel it on your skin. Imagine how the room is lit, how bright or dim is it? What are your favorite smells? What are the sounds of this place? Is there music playing, do you hear birds chirping, maybe the whir of a fan, or maybe it is a place of silence? Bring them to this place. What objects do you see? What are the colors that occupy this space? Where are you sitting-maybe a couch, a desk chair, a porch swing, or even on the ground? Really take some time to study this room you have built in your mind. Breathe in the comforting smells, feel how relaxed you are here, in this serene place of your own making. Now, somewhere in this room of tranquility, there is shelf. Take a moment to find it. And on this shelf, sits a box. Visualize this box in great detail. It can be any type of box, it could be a gift box, a jewelry box, or even a shoe box. The only requirement is that this box is beautiful to you. What color is it? What shape is the box? Really envision it’s dimensions, really see this box in your mind’s eye.
Now rise from where you are seated and bring this box down from the shelf. Feel the weight of it in your hands. Now, place it in front of you. Slowly, open the box and set the lid down next to you. In this beautiful box, sit your worries. Your worries are an orb of light. The orb glows red, your worries are irritated that you haven’t visited them here, in this space in your mind that is full of serenity and comfort. You hold the orb close out in front of you and carefully lift it to examine it. These are your worries and they are important because they are yours. Whatever you are struggling with, whatever you are concerned about, it sits here before you. And as you examine this orb of worry, it begins to change. The orb shifts from red to orange, orange to yellow, yellow to green, and green to blue. Now, gently set the orb back in its box, replace the lid, and walk out of the room, a bit lighter than when you entered.
*This exercise adapts concepts from DBT’s distraction skill of “putting the pain on a shelf, box it up, and putting it away for a while,” EMDR’s use of light in meditation imagery (Light Stream Shapiro 2001), and CBT for GAD’s strategy of using a physical worry box.
Nehjla Mashal, PhD