Mindset is Everything: A “How To” on Mindfulness Practice
Authored by: Gabriella Patronella, Licensed Professional Counselor
Have you ever had the experience where as soon as your head hits the pillow after a very long day of hustle and then your head explodes with a million thoughts at once? There goes that good night’s sleep! Have you ever had the experience of waking up late and before you know it, a whole day has gone and you haven’t had a chance to think? What about in your relationships, do you ever feel guilty because you haven’t been present or engaged with your partner or your children in the way they deserve? You’re not alone in this experience. Hustle culture leads us to go-go-go all day long without taking a moment to simply be and check in with yourself.
I have good news for you, mindfulness can help with that! Let’s talk developing mindfulness practice.
Sounds fancy huh? Not really. Mindfulness is a fancy way of saying being present and engaged in your awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness can be anything from classic meditation to athletic activities to even doing your shower routine backwards! There are many ways of practicing mindfulness in your day-to-day life to become better in tune with yourself and your experiences. And when I say practice, I mean PRACTICE. It WILL take practice.
Mindfulness does not come naturally to us because our hustle culture does not support it. We live in a culture that leaves hardly any room for us to even breath for a minute!
I want to share some basic mindfulness skills with you to better help you begin this journey.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) defines mindfulness as “intentionally living with awareness
in the present moment.” Let’s take a moment to focus on that first word, “INTENTIONALLY.” Mindfulness requires purposeful intention with a goal in mind. This involves motivation and commitment to that goal. DBT teaches quick skills you can utilize to practice mindfulness. They are broken down into two groups – the “what” skills and the “how” skills.
The “what” skills are Observe, Describe, and Participate. Let’s break each one down. “Observe” is practicing wordless watching, both inside and outside of yourself, without attaching or rejecting this experience. You can utilize your five senses and body sensations to bring awareness to yourself. “Describe” is when you put words on your experience, acknowledging what you observe without interpretations, judgments, or opinions, JUST THE FACTS. I often tell clients, if you’re struggling to be present in your day-to-day life, narrate your experiences! It seems silly at first, but you would be surprised how often this helps. Finally, “Participate” is when you throw yourself completely into the present moment, staying engaged in this moment. If you’re watching TV, try to only watch TV and stay off your phone. If you’re struggling to stay engaged at dinner with friends, try to be intentional about involving yourself in the conversation.
Now for the “how” skills. They are Nonjudgmentally, One-Mindfully, and Effectively. We have a tendency to judge ourselves when trying something new and our inner dialogue can sometimes be quite mean! In DBT, the “Nonjudgmentally” skill is intended for us to be kind to ourselves.
And if you are judging yourself or what you are being mindful of, don’t judge your judging! Simply bring your attention back to the present moment and practice self-compassion. “OneMindfully” is about doing only one thing at a time and concentrating your mind on that one thing, despite your EXCELLENT skill in multitasking. And finally, “Effectively”, just do what works best for you! Act as skillfully as you can and let go of any resistance.
You may be thinking, “There’s no way I could make these changes to my life to practice more self-care and mindfulness. There’s just no time!” I’m here to tell you it IS possible and to practice grace with yourself as you are practicing and getting the hang of this. Attached are some resources that will be helpful for you in getting started. You can do this!!
Myths about Mindfulness: