This practice is a variation of an instruction we’re given when learning formal meditation practice. When our mind wanders away from mindfulness of in- and out-breathing, away from the awareness of the physical sensation of the breath going in and out of the body, we are told to gently bring our attention back to awareness of the sensation of the breath. Those mental wanderings take us to thoughts about the past or about the future, thoughts that are often a source of suffering. But the actual sensation of the breath is in the present moment. While sitting in meditation, Joseph Goldstein sometimes silently but firmly says “not now” to intrusive thoughts, and then he returns to following his breath. This is similar to the drop-it practice I use outside of formal meditation.
Start by consciously taking your mind out of the present moment and into the past by remembering something you blame yourself for, you regret, or that simply makes you sad.
Now, keep this sad or stressful memory strong in your mind and then . . . just drop it. Maybe you can drop it for only a microsecond, but just drop it and direct your attention to some current sensory input. It could be something you see or hear or smell. It could be the feel of your feet on the ground or the sensation of the breath coming in and going out of your body. Can you feel the relief? If not, try the exercise again. With practice, you’ll find that at the command “drop it,” the memory is gone and so is the suffering that accompanied it.
Consciously take your mind out of the present moment by thinking of something in the future that you’re worried about or that’s a source of stress or agitation for you
You’re left in the present moment. Even if that moment is accompanied by bodily pain or discomfort, it will be easier to relax into the discomfort, riding it like a wave, because you won’t be making it worse by adding to it the mental suffering that comes with thoughts about the past and the future,
via How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers