Section 4 - Mindfulness 'How' Skills
Learning Center - DBT Therapy Training
DBT Mindfulness ‘How’ Skills
We have discussed the goal of Mindfulness, to achieve Wise Mind in our daily lives. Next, we discussed that Observe, Describe, and Participate are the three things we need to do to achieve Wise Mind. During this section, we'll discuss how to approach Observe, Describe and Participate. These are called the How skills of Mindfulness. The three How skills are: non-judgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively. This section describes these three skills in detail.
There are many ways to interpret the three What skills in Mindfulness. We will need to approach this in a clean and healthy way, however. That's where the three How skills come in:
This is experiencing the world around us without judgments. We gain more insight and value when we are able to separate our thoughts and feelings from what's actually going on; the bare experience. We discussed, in the last section, that when our judgments are off, even slightly, we can wind up in some very awkward situations. To view things Non-Judgmentally we need to train ourselves to separate the bare facts from the thoughts and feelings that we apply to them. Then learn to let those thoughts just go.
Imagine a conveyor belt in your mind. The moment you begin to evaluate what you're seeing, rest the thought on that conveyor belt and let it roll out of your mind. In Dr. Marsha Linehan's book, Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, she discusses the concept of the "Teflon Mind", where you allow thoughts to come in and slide right out as if it were a non-stick frying pan. A valuable tool to use to help us experience events non-judgmentally is write out the thoughts that come into your mind. Then read through what you've written, and look for judgment words (e.g., anything indicating it's value or what it means like good, bad, right, wrong, positive or negative), and strike it out.
This is essentially to focus on one thing at a time. Lots of people feel they can multitask, and perhaps even take pride in their ability to do several things at the same time. Part of mindfulness is to give our all; 100% of our attention to what we're doing, the moment we're doing it. By definition, if we're doing several things at once, we can't be giving all our attention to any one of them.
While reading, driving, jogging, shopping or doing any number of activities I've caught myself thinking about something else. I lose my keys. In fact, the other day, I came home for one purpose, to pick up my dry cleaning to take to the cleaners. I came in my home, grabbed the dry cleaning, then couldn't find my keys. Eventually I found them in the refrigerator.... where else would they be? Evidently, when I came in, I grabbed a drink and put the keys down inside. Had I given my full attention to what I was doing, I would have known where I put the keys. I do this sort of thing all the time, and I know many people who experience this as well. If we can train ourselves to truly focus on the task at hand, one task at a time, we'll be that much closer to doing things MindFULLY, rather than MindLESSLY.
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