The internet is filled with techniques for mindfulness; some swear by it while others pass it off as the latest fad. Unfortunately, what is often forgotten during these many discussions, is the how.
How do you bring yourself back to the now? How can you get into the practice so that it becomes second nature for when you really need it?
As I have mentioned before, it can take anything from 21 days to 66 days to form a new habit. This also applies to mindfulness - practice makes it achievable, the frequency of practice will make it a habit. When it becomes a habit it will become a more useful tool in your bag of tricks.
Professor Linehan refers to the practice of being mindful as “Living with your eyes open”. In her development of the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) program for Emotional Regulation Disorder (ERD), mindful practice is broken into steps consisting of what and how best to accomplish mindfulness. Practicing the latter separately over a short course makes the overall practice more digestible. When merged back together and practiced daily on small tasks it becomes a more viable tool in trickier moments.
The WHAT skills Dr Linehan refers to are the practice of observing , describing and participating.
What are the WHAT skills?
When first attempting mindfulness take a few days to just observe. When having a shower observe the sensations, the sounds. If you feel a pain in your shoulder focus on it and only it. Think about the sensations. This is a tricky one that no one ever fully achieves.
Describing: Abandon labels. Attempt to describe what you see or hear without the knowing element. The classic practice of this is eating a raisin - observe it first in your hand. Is it wrinkly, creased, smooth? Don’t add anything. The cup in front of you may be round but can you actually see that or do you just know it is?
Participating: Be wholly part of the activity. In this digital age, whole participation is a rare occurrence. How many times have you noticed someone's eyes darting to their phone while they're in the middle of a conversation? Actively participate in each task. If you catch yourself wandering then observe this and bring yourself back.
The HOW skills accompany the WHAT and broken down are One-Mindfully, Effectively and Non-Judgementally
How about those HOW skills
Being non judgmental is one of the trickier skills to practice. Try to just let it be. If you catch yourself judging, don’t judge the judging.
One-Mindfully: If you're walking, then just walk, if you're listening to someone actively listen, if you're cleaning your teeth give it your full focus and do it well.
Effectiveness: This is doing what works for you as opposed to what’s 'right’ to achieve mindfulness.
When doing small tasks like doing the dishes or washing your hair, this focused thinking will become a habit transferable to more difficult moments in your everyday life.