How to be mindful

So glad to see that you’re back today! I hope that learning What is mindfulness? yesterday got your brain (slowly) moving forward.

One of the best explanations of “how” to be mindful comes from Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan. (A person doesn’t need to be living with BPD in order to utilize her clear explanations.)

observeIn order to be mindful, there are three things you’ll need to do.

  1. Observe
  2. Describe
  3. Participate

OBSERVE your thoughts with all of your senses. Look around, what do you see? Do you hear anything? What about smell or taste? Feel your shirt on your back, the chair under your bum, and the ground under your feet. Watch your thoughts “come and go,” without delving into them or resting on them.  You don’t need to judge the thoughts you have, and you can let the thoughts just be. Use all of your senses to get the best observation.

DESCRIBE your thoughts using words. Allow yourself to place words to the feelings. “I am aware I am overwhelmed,” is an observation (without judgement) that you can jot into a notebook. Simply writing down the feeling can help you sort it out later. This focusing can help slow down your thoughts, making it easier to be more mindful of them.

practicePARTICIPATE in your experience as you are recognizing it. Be aware in each moment of the feelings that are associated with your thought. Be present in the “right now” trying to avoid thinking about the past or the future. You can start small with your participation, but the active PRACTICE is also important.

Remember, everyone’s practice of mindfulness is different. If you can observe, describe, and participate in your thoughts, you are working toward being more mindful and you can change your response to automatic thoughts. The more you practice mindfulness, the more naturally you will be mindful, which in and of itself is practice.  THIS is the kind of thought cycle you want to live in — a positive and empowering circle of action.

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