When we are lost in the dense atmosphere of worry, stress, emotional pain or confusion, talking about our thoughts and feelings with a good listener can temporarily take us to higher ground - but rarely out of the clouds altogether.
While we are still immersed in thoughts and feelings, we are using the mind and senses to explore mental-emotional issues. But how can the mind see the causes of problems in itself?
We must find a way of becoming free of the thoughts and feelings long enough so that, as the sun burns off clouds, the light of our awareness is able to gain wider perspective and penetrate to a deeper understanding.
This requires bringing attention away from the thought-feelings. Why? Because when we are concentrating on the clouds, the darkening of the sky or the rain, we can easily forget there is clear sky above.
Until we start to take our attention away from difficult or unpleasant thought-feelings - the clouds - long enough for our awareness - the sun - to reach through and dissolve the causes, we continue returning back into the clouds, and our mind becomes lost in them once more.
So, how is this done?
There are many ways - essentially whatever takes attention away to a new more uplifting type of thought or feeling - some kind of routine that takes us out of the clouds whenever we feel them around us.
A great practical step is to simply close the eyes and push attention into a feeling of a quiet empty beach, or open space, then stay there a little while, really sinking into that experience.
Keeping a book of spiritual teaching by the bedside to read a sentence or two from each night is a great way to take attention into a calmer quieter place before sleep.
In the morning before the mind begins to race, sitting quietly sensing the inner body, or looking for the silent space between each thought, really helps to create a foundation of quietness before the day begins.
All we really need to do is repeatedly bring attention to that 'space' which lies behind thinking - like the clear sky in which the clouds appear.
Little by little, as the mind relaxes, the clouds thin out - and then, at some point, the sun shines through.